NBA

Lakers trade rumors: Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope have been offered to quite a few teams, per report

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The Los Angeles Lakers are severely limited in what they can offer on the trade market. Until Montrezl Harrell makes an official decision on his player option, they have only six players under contract. LeBron James and Anthony Davis are untouchable. Marc Gasol is 36 years old and left money on the table to join the Lakers, so trading him would be difficult with the threat of a possible retirement looming. Alfonzo McKinnie is a fringe player without much value. That leaves only two players of substance available to deal right now: Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and apparently, the Lakers are doing everything in their power to use them to get an upgrade. 

On ESPN’s Woj and Lowe Special, Adrian Wojnarowski said the Lakers “have literally offered Kyle Kuzma and KCP to almost every team I’ve talked to in the league” in “some combination of Kuz and KCP, sometimes both of them, sometimes one of them.” Aside from lacking other tradable players, the combination of Kuzma and KCP is notable for financial reasons as well. The two will combine to make over $26 million next season. They are, at present, the only matching salary that the Lakers have. 

That is meaningful as they attempt to trade for a starting point guard. The Lakers are over the salary cap, so they cannot simply absorb an expensive guard through trade or sign one in free agency. If they want a high-level player, they are going to have to find an expensive one, and at the moment, Kuzma and Caldwell-Pope are the only two players on the roster with salaries they could use in such a deal. If Harrell opts into the final year of his deal, he would add another $9.7 million in salary for the Lakers to trade, and when free agency arrives, they could feasibly send out one or more of their own free agents in sign-and-trade deals as matching salary as well. 

But for now, Caldwell-Pope and Kuzma are what the Lakers have. They aren’t exactly superstars, but both are starting-caliber players on team-friendly contracts. When combined with draft capital such as the No. 22 overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, they should be able to get the Lakers a valuable player somewhere on the trade market. The Athletic’s Shams Charania reports that several teams have registered interest in Kuzma. One team Charania reports is discussing a potential trade with the Lakers is the Sacramento Kings, as Los Angeles covets Buddy Hield and would love to acquire him in a package involving Kuzma

But given their current constraints, the Lakers will have a difficult time adding a third star to pair with James and Davis. While Caldwell-Pope and Kuzma could certainly fetch an upgrade, the Lakers trail several other contenders in terms of tradable assets, and Rob Pelinka will have to navigate around that reality as he attempts to reshape the Lakers back into a championship team.



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