Following an ugly first-round exit in the NBA Playoffs, the Los Angeles Lakers have been the center of attention when it comes to trade rumors this summer.
Most recently, Los Angeles has been linked to star Washington Wizards point guard Russell Westbrook. It’s a clear indication that general manager Rob Pelinka is looking to upgrade over pending free agent Dennis Schroder.
Now comes this report from Shams Charania of The Athletic indicating that the Lakers have held trade discussions with the Sacramento Kings in a deal that would send star two-guard Buddy Hield to Southern California for a package centering around forward Kyle Kuzma.
“The Lakers and Sacramento Kings have discussed a deal centered on guard Buddy Hield,” Charania reported. “Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma would be involved in a potential package. The Lakers have received interest from several teams regarding Kuzma, sources said.”
It’s no surprise that the Los Angeles Lakers are holding talks with other teams surrounding the 26-year-old Kuzma.
He’s seen a major downtick in production over the past two seasons, averaging 12.8 points and 5.3 rebounds on 44% shooting during that span. Back in 2018-19, the power forward averaged a career high 18.7 points to go with 5.5 rebounds on 46% shooting. Given his relatively young age, other teams could be banking on Kuzma turning things around with a change of scenery.
As for Hield and the Kings, he has not hit it off with embattled head coach Luke Walton after being acquired during the 2016-17 season from the New Orleans Pelicans in the now-infamous DeMarcus Cousins trade. Last season saw the sharpshooter average 16.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists on 39% shooting from three-point range.
How would a Buddy Hield trade to the Los Angeles Lakers look?
Let’s assume for obvious reasons that Sacramento wouldn’t be interested in a Dennis Schroder sign-and-trade. The team already has two ball-dominant guards in De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton, both of whom are seen as integral parts in California’s capital city.
Working under that premise, a trade becomes more convoluted due to the Lakers’ salary cap situation. Contracts would have to pretty much match here. For his part, Hield is playing under a four-year, $94 million contract. He’s set to count $22.25 million against the cap in 2021-22. Kuzma’s cap hit is $13 million.
This means that roughly $6 million would have to head back to Sacramento in order for a trade to work under NBA rules. Perhaps, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and someone like Alfonzo McKinnie go to Sacramento with veteran point guard Delon Wright heading to the Lakers. Under this scenario, Los Angeles opts to move its first-round pick (22nd overall) to the Kings as a way to sweeten the pot.
For Sacramento the idea would be to clear some of the excess of talent it has in the backcourt while finding a long-term replacement for the embattled Marvin Bagley III at power forward. It would then have two first-round picks to add more talent to an organization that has not earned a playoff spot since all the way back in 2005-06.
As for the Los Angeles Lakers, they’d still need to find a point guard to team up with Hield in the backcourt. However, Hield would make a ton of sense with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Los Angeles was missing that consistent perimeter shooter a season ago.