Lakers Rumors: Latest on 2021 NBA Draft Plans, Kyle Kuzma Trade and More

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistJuly 27, 2021

Lakers Rumors: Latest on 2021 NBA Draft Plans, Kyle Kuzma Trade and More

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    Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

    The 2021 NBA draft is set to take place on Thursday, and the Los Angeles Lakers will be part of the action. Los Angeles owns the 22nd overall pick in the draft, and after not keeping a first-round selection in either of the past two drafts, L.A. may finally make a pick.

    However, the Lakers aren't necessarily going to select at the No. 22 spot, and there's no guarantee that a pick will be the team's only move on draft night. Los Angeles is looking for immediate help and could also work the veteran trade market in the coming days.

    What's the latest buzz surrounding the Lakers heading into the 2021 draft? Let's take a look.

Lakers Could Trade Down from No. 22

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    Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

    The Lakers didn't make a pick in 2020, and they may not stay put in 2021 either. Los Angeles is in the market for guard help, and rival executives believe that L.A. could have multiple targets on the table. This could lead to a trade down in the first round.

    "With a big group of combo/scoring guards bunched together in the early 20s through early 30s, NBA executives say the Lakers have explored the option of moving down a few slots from the No. 22 pick while acquiring one or more second-round picks," Jonathan Givony of ESPN and DraftExpress tweeted.

    Givony paired Los Angeles with Baylor guard Jared Butler in a recent mock draft for ESPN, stating that the Lakers "will be on the lookout for ready-made contributors if they decide to keep this pick."

    Trading the No. 22 pick as part of a package for a veteran player is also presumably on the table. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, Los Angeles is hoping to land a third "stellar player" to partner with LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Lakers Have Offered Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    Naturally, Los Angeles could also trade some of its existing players in its pursuit of a third superstar. According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Lakers have already offered Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to multiple teams.

    "They have literally offered Kyle Kuzma and KCP," Wojnarowski said on ESPN's Woj and Lowe: Trade Deadline Special (h/t Jacob Rude of SB Nation). "Almost every team I've talked to in the league has been offered some combination of Kuz and KCP, sometimes both of them, sometimes one of them."

    Wojnarowski also mentioned that the Lakers are looking to add a guard—but aren't likely to get one in a Kuzma/KCP deal that would adequately replace pending free agent Dennis Schroder. Wojnarowski believes that L.A. will find a way to bring Schroder back.

    If the Lakers do believe that they can work things out with Schroder—who turned down an extension during the season—it could give them more flexibility on draft day. They may still target a guard with their initial selection, but they may not be forced to consider those who are ready to play right away.

Lakers Have Discussed a Buddy Hield Trade

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    The Lakers may already have a target in mind for a potential trade involving Kuzma and/or Caldwell-Pope. According to Charania, Los Angeles and the Sacramento Kings have discussed a deal for guard Buddy Hield.

    "The Lakers and Sacramento Kings have discussed a deal centered on guard Buddy Hield," Charania wrote. "Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma would be involved in a potential package, per sources. The Lakers have received interest from several teams regarding Kuzma, sources said."

    Hield, who shot 40.6 percent from the field and 39.1 percent from beyond the arc last season, would be a fine offensive complement to James and Davis. However, he probably isn't the only option Los Angeles will consider.

    If Charania is correct that "several teams" are interested in Kuzma, the Lakers are likely to weigh their potential avenues before making a trade. They could also be inclined to wait until after Schroder's future is set before finalizing a trade target.

Lakers in on DeMar DeRozan

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    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    While outright signing a star player will be difficult, given L.A.'s cap situation, the Lakers are reportedly interested in San Antonio Spurs guard/forward DeMar DeRozan. According to The Undefeated's Marc J. Spears (h/t Bleacher Report's Joseph Zucker), Los Angeles is among the teams interested in landing the pending free agent.

    According to Spears, DeRozan could also return to San Antonio.

    While it may take some work to figure out the financials in a DeRozan signing, the Lakers could offer him the chance to chase a title—which appears to be a big factor in DeRozan's foray into free agency.

    "At this point, you've gotta weigh out the opportunity to win a championship kind of more," DeRozan said on the Club Shay Shay podcast. "Especially with the career I've had. I've been fortunate enough to make good money, but the ultimate goal is always to compete for a championship."

    For DeRozan, the chance to win a championship could be far more important than anything the Lakers can offer in a contract.

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