The Los Angeles Lakers didn’t see their season end as they had hoped. Despite aspirations of defending their NBA title, the team suffered a first-round exit against the Phoenix Suns as injuries piled up and some of the holes on the roster beyond their superstar duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis became more apparent.
This offseason has become a fascinating one for the Lakers, as after seemingly pressing all the right buttons in building the 19-20 title squad, the opposite was true for this year’s squad. Dennis Schröder seemed to have some “fit in or fit out” moments after being dealt to L.A. for Danny Green as the Lakers were desperate to upgrade their point guard rotation. Andre Drummond’s signing on the buyout market only proved to upset everyone in the center rotation, with Marc Gasol, Montrezl Harrell, and Drummond all feeling like they weren’t being given enough opportunity.
All of this leads to an offseason where Rob Pelinka and company have to figure out how to undo the mess they made despite not having much in the way of cap space to make additions. That means trades will be the leading avenue for roster shakeups, and as we approach the Draft and free agency, reports of trade exploration out of L.A. have emerged. Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report brought word on Wednesday that Schröder was a prime candidate for a sign-and-trade, if the Lakers aren’t willing to meet his demands, both on price and role, with the Knicks and Bulls mentioned as two teams with interest — although the Knicks wouldn’t need a sign-and-trade to make a signing happen.
Maybe more interestingly, the Lakers are also apparently taking the temperature of the league when it comes to Kyle Kuzma, who has voiced his desire to take on a larger role than what he was given with the 20-21 Lakers.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles continues to gauge rival teams’ interest in Kyle Kuzma, sources told B/R, although Schroder does carry a higher trade value around the NBA.
Kuzma has talked about wanting to be more than a spot-up shooter recently, and its hard to see exactly how he gains an expanded offensive role next to LeBron and AD. It also remains to be seen if other teams see Kuzma as a guy that you want as having a significant on-ball role, which is seemingly what he wants, as his best attribute as an offensive player is his cutting — which the Lakers could certainly utilize more of if they had better perimeter passers beyond LeBron James.
In any case, this offseason is set to be a very interesting one in Los Angeles, as the Lakers clearly need to make some changes if for nothing else than to fix what appeared to be some serious chemistry issues late. There are also plenty of on-court needs for this team to get back to being a title favorite. The health of their two stars is at the top of that list, but better balance on offense is also needed and it’s possible that Schröder and Kuzma would be the leading candidates to be trade chips to make that happen.