Lakers Rumors: Latest on DeMar DeRozan, Buddy Hield Trade and More

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistJuly 28, 2021

Lakers Rumors: Latest on DeMar DeRozan, Buddy Hield Trade and More

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    Coming off a championship pursuit derailed by injuries and other factors, it was never going to take long for massive rumors to kick up around the Los Angeles Lakers

    Those Lakers will have LeBron James and Anthony Davis back next year as the foundation of the win-now nucleus.

    But with key parts of the rotation like Dennis Schroder headed for free agency and the annual speculation that other superstars could migrate to Los Angeles, the Lakers rumors have started cutting into even the headline-worthy start of NFL training camps. 

    With landmark dates looming such as the draft on Thursday and opening of free agency on August 6, these are the biggest and latest rumors to know surrounding the Lakers. 

Lakers Interested in DeMar DeRozan?

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    Brandon Dill/Associated Press

    Let the DeMar DeRozan speculation begin anew. 

    It felt like only a matter of time before the veteran swingman saw his name pop up in Lakers speculation again. According to The Undefeated's Marc J. Spears on Monday's episode of The Jump, they are one of several big-market teams with an interest in acquiring the San Antonio Spurs star. 

    While most known for his superstar role with the Toronto Raptors for years, he quietly broke out as a secondary option in San Antonio. His splits over three seasons compared to nine in Toronto were higher in points (21.6), rebounds (5.3) and assists (6.2), though his three-point percentage dipped (27 percent). 

    Written another way, DeRozan, now 31 years old, is an ideal role player, if not one of the best the Lakers could possibly add. He's still got the ability to devastate teams focused on James and Davis, while otherwise spacing the floor to give those two more room to work. 

    Now 12 years into his career, it should prove interesting to see if a California native like DeRozan is not only interested in joining the Lakers but also at an affordable price that helps the team retain its flexibility to make additional roster improvements. 

Lakers Offering Up Role Players

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    It shouldn't be any great shock to hear the Lakers are trying to unload some talent in anticipation of remaking the rotation after this year's struggles. 

    ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski said on Sunday's Woj & Lowe Free Agency Special that the Lakers have been trying to trade away Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, including "to almost every team I've talked to in the league."

    Which makes sense on multiple fronts. On the court, Kuzma averaged just 12.8 points per game over the last two seasons and Caldwell-Pope averaged just 9.7 points on an average of 28.4 minutes per game, albeit while hitting a career-high 41 percent of his shots from deep. 

    Still, any positives fade when adding in finances. Caldwell-Pope has a $13.04 million cap hit next season, with Kuzma checking in at $13 million, making them the highest non-James and Davis expenses on the team. 

    If the Lakers can find a way to affordably offload those numbers, especially when the next move might be adding a player like DeRozan, the front office contacting most of the league makes plenty of sense. 

Lakers Talking Buddy Hield Trade with Kings?

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    Offloading their own is far from the only thing the Lakers have attempted to do in reported trade talks so far. 

    Take for instance, contact with the Sacramento Kings. According to The Athletic's Shams Charania, both parties have discussed a deal highlighted by Buddy Hield. That rumored chatter includes the aforementioned cap dump that is Kuzma. 

    Hield is the biggest piece of that potential puzzle, though. The sixth pick from the 2016 draft is now 28 years old and averages 16 points over 28.9 minutes, shooting 44 percent from the field and 41 percent from deep for his career

    As things stand, Hield and a player like DeRozan resemble the highest the Lakers can probably go when adding a new, notable player to the LeBron-Davis core. The front office just doesn't have that many premium assets left to offer other teams after unloading names like Lonzo Ball in past deals. 

    But the Lakers could do much worse than a DeRozan or Hield at this juncture in the team's championship window. It will be interesting to see if L.A. has to pay some sort of Western Conference tax to get something done on the Hield front, but the team would be better on the court for it.