Lakers Rumors: Updated Trade Buzz After 2021 NBA Draft Lottery

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistJune 24, 2021

PHOENIX, AZ - JUNE 1:  Kyle Kuzma #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on against the Phoenix Suns during Round 1, Game 5 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on June 1, 2021 at Phoenix Suns Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images)
Michael Gonzales/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers didn't see their draft positioning change during Tuesday night's draft lottery, as they made the postseason and are locked into the 22nd overall pick. However, it's fair to say that following a first-round playoff exit, the Lakers would love to bolster their roster this offseason.

LeBron James and Anthony Davis will remain the centerpieces during the 2021-22 season. However, significant injuries to both stars showcased Los Angeles' dire need for improved depth and a better supporting cast.

When Davis was out, the Lakers felt an awful lot like some of the Cleveland Cavaliers teams that James dragged into the NBA playoffs. When James missed time, they felt a lot like the New Orleans Pelicans teams that regularly underachieved even with Davis at their center.

L.A. cannot simply count on Davis and James remaining healthy throughout next season. If the Lakers hope to get back to the NBA Finals, they have to put better pieces around their two superstars.

The problem is that Los Angeles won't pick until No. 22 and doesn't have a lot of free-agent options—it is projected to be over the salary cap this offseason. This means that if the Lakers are going to reshuffle their roster, trades may be required.

According to Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer, one player who has already been discussed as a trade chip is forward Kyle Kuzma. Fischer reported last month that L.A. shopped Kuzma ahead of the trade deadline.

"They made a bunch of calls," one assistant general manager told Fischer. "They were very active."

ESPN NBA insider Marc J. Spears recently stated that Kuzma "looks" like he's on the way out of Los Angeles (h/t NBA Central)—while also mentioning Kemba Walker as a potential trade target:

NBA Central @TheNBACentral

"If I'm the Lakers, I'd go after Kemba Walker. Kuzma looks like he's on his way out." - @MarcJSpears (Via @NBATheJump ) https://t.co/gG3WT60xHa

The reality is that Kuzma is one of the only veteran trade chips that the Lakers have.

A sign-and-trade could potentially be on the table for pending free agent Dennis Schroder, if the Lakers decide not to retain him this offseason.

"They have Dennis Schroder, that's going to be their biggest free agent piece that they have. Either you bring him back or you use him in a sign and trade. I expect the Lakers to be open to either possibility," NBA insider Shams Charania said, via Stadium:

Stadium @Stadium

The defending champion Lakers were bounced out in the first round. What should their offseason plans be? https://t.co/4jQ0xgTOb9

According to Charania, "multiple teams" will be interested in Schroder this offseason. Charania also believes that the Lakers will be open to moving their first-round selection for the right trade target.

One possible sign-and-trade target is Brooklyn Nets guard and Los Angeles native Spencer Dinwiddie. While Dinwiddie hasn't been directly linked to the Lakers, Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News recently reported that he would prefer to return to L.A.

"Home is the preferred destination," one source said, per Winfield. "But he wants to secure his financial future, too."

The latter part of the equation would prove difficult, given the Lakers' current cap situation—something Winfield acknowledged.

"Home for Dinwiddie is Los Angeles, where he spent the entire season rehabbing from his ACL tear at Phenom Sports Performance," Winfield wrote. "If Dinwiddie were to join the Lakers or Clippers, it would have to be in a sign-and-trade."

It feels unlikely that the Lakers would be able to make a play for Dinwiddie, though it would be unwise to rule anything out at this point. The window with James is closing, and Los Angeles would likely love to land at least one more championship with him before it does.