Lakers Rumors: Latest Trade Buzz on Dennis Schroder, Kyle Kuzma, More
The Los Angeles Lakers come into the 2021 offseason with a number of challenges.
Several of L.A.'s key players are headed for free agency. The Lakers also have to grapple with the reality that the supporting cast did not pull through for the team toward the end of the season and during a first-round playoff loss to the Phoenix Suns. Two players of note are Dennis Schroder and Kyle Kuzma.
The Lakers acquired Schroder last offseason with the notion he could be another ball-handler and scorer in the backcourt. He showed flashes but ultimately seemed to succumb to inconsistency. Kuzma struggled to shoot the ball at an efficient level on a nightly basis and never really made a leap after signing an extension with the Lakers last offseason. Now, both guys could be headed out of town.
Here are the latest rumors on Schroder and Kuzma, as well as L.A.'s interest in P.J. Tucker and the possibility of a reunion with a certain former point guard.
Schroder, Kuzma Could Both Be Dealt This Offseason
Schroder could ultimately be headed elsewhere regardless of how the Lakers feel about him. He enters this offseason as an unrestricted free agent and is clearly hoping to cash out.
In May, Brian Windhorst of ESPN reported that Schroder turned down a four-year, $84 million extension offer. Armin Andres, Vice President of the German Basketball Federation, later said (h/t TalkBasket.net) the 27-year-old was hoping for somewhere between $100-$120 million on the open market.
It seems unlikely the Lakers, a team already a bit handicapped by salary issues, will pay Schroder that kind of money. However, Schroder does have interested suitors, and L.A. could try to trade him.
Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer reported Schroder's decision to decline the extension offer "opened the door" for L.A. to go the sign-and-trade route. The Lakers may try to make a deal with the Chicago Bulls or New York Knicks, though Fischer noted the Knicks could sign Schroder using cap space if they so desired.
Fischer also reported the Lakers are "gauging" interest in Kuzma. In other words, they're essentially shopping him. Kuzma will be entering the first year of his three-year, $39 million extension next season. He never really adapted to a new role in L.A. following the arrival of Anthony Davis, but some teams might see his upside as a guy who can handle the ball and shoot three from either forward position.
Lakers Expected to Pursue P.J. Tucker in Free Agency
The Lakers, barring a lot of moving and shaking, will have to rely on fringe upgrades to the roster. One such upgrade might be veteran forward P.J. Tucker.
Jake Fischer reported L.A. could be among several teams hoping to "vie" for Tucker's services when he becomes a free agent this summer. He would likely give the Lakers an added level of toughness and rebounding while also spacing the floor on the offensive end.
Tucker's numbers don't look spectacular. He averaged just 2.6 points and 2.8 rebounds for the Milwaukee Bucks in 20 games after being traded from the Houston Rockets. However, the advanced numbers tell a different story.
The Bucks had an offensive rating of 122.2 when Tucker was on the floor compared to a 117.1 rating when he was off the floor. That discrepancy has been even greater in the playoffs. Milwaukee's offensive rating with Tucker is 116.0, well above the 107.9 mark when he's off the court.
Tucker does all the little things. He fills space and is a strong off-ball screener. He contributes on the offensive glass. The Lakers might need his grittiness to get back to the top next season.
Possible Lonzo Ball Reunion?
Schroder might be good as gone, but that also means L.A. will need a point guard. One name to watch could be former Lakers draft pick Lonzo Ball.
Ball is preparing to enter restricted free agency and could generate interest from any number of teams looking for backcourt upgrades, including teams thought to be in on Schroder, such as the Bulls and Knicks.
The former No. 2 overall pick struggled with injuries in L.A. and was ultimately one of the main pieces in the package for Davis. However, it's possible he could relish the chance to play for a more established contender.
Of course, the question will be how the Lakers can navigate financial landmines. It seems likely they would have to move guys around and orchestrate some kind of sign-and-trade to land Ball.
Regardless, the Lakers are preparing for a pretty consequential offseason as they try to get back to the top of the NBA.
All stats obtained via Basketball Reference unless otherwise noted.