Lakers Rumors: Latest Buzz on Pursuit of Kendrick Nunn, Alex Caruso and More

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistAugust 4, 2021

Lakers Rumors: Latest Buzz on Pursuit of Kendrick Nunn, Alex Caruso and More

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    We're only a couple of days in the NBA free-agency negotiation period, and the Los Angeles Lakers have already made a plethora of moves. Along with the trade for Russell Westbrook, Los Angeles has reportedly agreed to bring back Talen-Horton Tucker and Marc Gasol while adding Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Kendrick Nunn, Malik Monk, Kent Bazemore and Wayne Ellington.

    Los Angeles is quickly running out of both financial flexibility and roster space—Bleacher Report's Timothy Rapp recently broke down their updated depth chart. However, the Lakers are waiving forward Alfonzo McKinnie, according to Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic, which will open up a roster spot.

    Here, we'll examine some of the latest buzz on Los Angeles' moves, non-moves and free-agent possibilities as the market continues to move.

Nunn Turned Down More Money to Join Lakers

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    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    Many of L.A.'s additions are coming in on one-year deals—quite possibly for the veteran minimum—while Nunn will get a two-year deal. The Lakers acquired Nunn using the mid-level exemption. It will be a $10 million contract, according to Charania, though Nunn could have made more elsewhere.

    "Nunn has agreed to a two-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, source tells ESPN. Deal includes a player option. Nunn turned down significantly more money to chase a title with the Lakers," ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted.

    One team that was in on Nunn early was the New York Knicks, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post.

    "The Heat's first team All-Rookie in 2019 had talks with the Knicks but chose the chance to win a championship. One report stated the Knicks offered him more money," Berman wrote.

    Nunn had initially been granted a qualifying offer by the Miami Heat, but they eventually pulled the offer, leading to him landing in Los Angeles.

Lakers Tried to Bring Back Alex Caruso

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    A few familiar faces will be back with Los Angeles in 2021. Horton-Tucker and Gasol will return, while Howard is back after spending a year with the Philadelphia 76ers. Of course, LeBron James and Anthony Davis are still the centerpieces of the roster.

    However, 2020-21 contributors Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Montrezl Harrell were dealt in the Westbrook trade. The Lakers are also saying goodbye to point guard Alex Caruso. According to Wojnarowski, Caruso is getting a four-year, $37 million deal from the Chicago Bulls.

    Los Angeles wanted to retain Caruso, but according to ESPN's Zach Lowe, it was not willing to spend the way that Chicago is.

    "From what I have heard and from what you have heard, the Lakers' offer was not close, which belies some luxury-tax concerns," Lowe told ESPN's Ramona Shelburne on the Lowe Post podcast (h/t RealGM).

    The 27-year-old Caruso appeared in 58 games this past season and averaged 6.4 points, 2.8 assists and 2.9 rebounds. While a valuable depth player, it's understandable that Caruso wouldn't receive a high-market offer from the Lakers.

Knicks Interested in Dennis Schroder

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    Guard Dennis Schroder remains unsigned, which could potentially benefit Los Angeles. While bringing him back or executing a sign-and-trade may be unrealistic after L.A.'s flurry of moves, neither is 100 percent impossible.

    According to Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer, the Lakers headed into free agency hoping to make a sign-and-trade—though they didn't put extensive work into getting Schroder to agree.

    "The Los Angeles Lakers hope to net returning talent in a sign-and-trade involving the 27-year-old, and they have not ended their search for ways to land Buddy Hield," Fischer wrote. "However, it appears the Lakers have not been in extensive contact with Schroder and his representatives, sources told Bleacher Report."

    A sign-and-trade would have been much more likely had the Lakers preorchestrated one with Schroder before Monday. Now, it's more likely that he signs with a team outright.

    According to Berman, the Knicks are interested.

    "The Knicks have interest in Schroder as a playmaker and defender, but he’s a poor 3-point shooter. One source told the Post Schroder started the process seeking a deal that would start at $25 million," Berman wrote.

    Anything could happen, of course, but Los Angeles can probably add Schroder to the list of 2020-21 contributors who won't be back.