Lakers Rumors: Latest on Buddy Hield Trade Buzz, Dennis Schroder and More
The tandem of LeBron James and Anthony Davis wasn't enough to propel the Los Angeles Lakers to a second consecutive championship in 2021. The Lakers are consequently looking to reload the roster this offseason and started out by adding a third superstar to the mix.
The Lakers have agreed to a deal with the Washington Wizards that will bring nine-time All-Star Russell Westbrook to L.A. However, Westbrook wasn't necessarily Los Angeles' first choice, and he's highly unlikely to be the last marquee addition the team makes.
Los Angeles first eyed Sacramento Kings shooting guard Buddy Hield—and may still revisit the idea, though there would be significant obstacles. The Lakers also have some critical free-agent decisions to make between now and the official start of free agency Friday. Negotiations can begin Monday at 6 p.m. ET.
Let's dig into the latest Lakers buzz heading into the opening week of free agency.
A Hield Deal Was Close
Before the Westbrook deal was announced, the Lakers were reportedly close to acquiring Hield. It was a logical choice, as the Lakers need to upgrade their shooting around James and Davis, and Hield is a career 40.6 percent shooter from beyond the arc.
The Lakers were so close to landing Hield, in fact, that several Lakers players were taken by surprise by the Westbrook news.
"A deal to send Hield to the Lakers for [Montrezl] Harrell and [Kyle] Kuzma seemed all but certain, until it wasn't," The Athletic's Jason Jones wrote. "... League sources said all the players involved in the much-discussed Lakers-Kings deal expected that trade to happen."
Instead, the Lakers are sending Kuzma, Harrell and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to Washington for Westbrook.
While Westbrook isn't likely to add much in the way of perimeter shooting, he can still be a major asset. James and Davis both missed significant time during the regular season, and having a third offensive centerpiece who can soak up playing time could help the Lakers' chances of getting through the gauntlet intact.
However, you would imagine Los Angeles would still love to add Hield.
Wizards, Kings Uninterested in Dennis Schroder
Jones speculated that the Lakers may still be able to make a Hield trade work and that Sacramento doesn't have a clear alternative in place. But any multi-team deal to acquire the guard isn't likely to involve pending free agent Dennis Schroder.
Schroder turned down an extension offer from Los Angeles during the season and is set to hit the open market. However, he could be a sign-and-trade possibility for the Lakers. The problem, as it pertains to Hield, is that neither the Kings nor the Wizards are interested in acquiring him.
According to ESPN's Zach Lowe, folding Schroder and Hield into the Westbrook deal isn't an option. Neither is including Schroder in a package for Hield.
"There is some beautiful-mind framework in which the Lakers might still sign-and-trade Schroder and acquire Hield," Lowe wrote. "It's just hard to find it. The Wizards and Kings don't want Schroder, sources said. The Lakers would need a fourth team that does with assets the Kings want."
Carmelo Anthony, Others Looking to Sign with Los Angeles
Given Los Angeles' cap situation—they are at $130 million in salary now, according to ESPN's Bobby Marks—the Lakers aren't likely to throw a ton of cash about during free agency. However, several players are willing to take less than market rate to join James and Co., according to Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer.
"Multiple league personnel contacted by B/R expect there to be significant interest from several veterans, including DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay and Carmelo Anthony, to forgo higher salary opportunities elsewhere and join the Lakers in pursuit of a championship," Fischer wrote.
According to Broderick Turner, Andrew Greif and Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times, Anthony, in particular, is already on board: "Carmelo Anthony is interested, just waiting on a call from the Lakers when free agency opens Monday. Guess who might be back for a third time? Yup, Dwight Howard is ready to return and play center. Jeff Green and Goran Dragic also are names to look out for."
If the Lakers can find veterans to play on the minimum, it would be huge for the team. They just dealt three contributors, are set to lose Schroder and could lose Talen Horton-Tucker and Alex Caruso as well.
According to Lowe, Caruso and Horton-Tucker will have "multiple suitors" on the open market.