The Los Angeles Lakers are being proactive on the trade front leading up to the 2021 NBA Draft on Thursday evening.
Recently, rumors have suggested that Los Angeles is engaged in conversations with the Washington Wizards surrounding former NBA MVP Russell Westbrook as a way to get LeBron James and Anthony Davis more help.
While it’s not yet known whether anything will come to fruition on that end, Los Angeles is also looking at potentially moving up or down from the 22nd pick in the draft.
According to this note from NBA insider Chad Ford and Tony Jones of The Athletic, that could include a trade with the conference-rival Utah Jazz.
The duo opines that the Los Angeles Lakers could move off the 22nd pick and forward Kyle Kuzma in exchange for Joe Ingles and the 30th selection.
Los Angeles has been rumored to be looking to move down from the 22nd pick and acquire more draft assets. For general manager Rob Pelinka, this idea would have just been the first in a long line of moves in order to help restock the Lakers’ roster following a brutal first-round exit in the 2021 NBA Playoffs.
Remember, the Lakers are without a ton of draft assets after giving up the farm in the Anthony Davis trade with the New Orleans Pelicans ahead of the 2019-20 season.
How a Joe Ingles swap for Kyle Kuzma would benefit the Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles is said to be targeting Oregon sharpshooter Chris Duarte with the 22nd pick. Barring a trade up, that’s not going to happen. It’s unlikely he falls past the Golden State Warriors at 14 or Washington Wizards with the 15th selection.
It’s all about finding more perimeter options. The 33-year-old Ingles would more than provide that. The Australia native is a career 41% shooter from three-point range. Ingles also hit on a resounding 45% of his shots from distance a season ago.
While the veteran forward is limited in pretty much every other aspect of the game, he’d fit in well as a secondary piece for Los Angeles. The team would then still be able to add a rookie with the 30th pick or swap said selection out for another veteran. It almost makes too much sense.
Why would the Utah Jazz make this trade?
Following a second-round exit in the NBA Playoffs, rumors out of Salt Lake suggest that Ingles could very well be on the move. The Jazz want to get younger and have a plethora of outside shooting options.
Enter into the equation Kyle Kuzma. The 26-year-old forward is firmly on the trade block and would prefer a change of scenery. While Kuzma has struggled over the past two seasons, it’s important to note that the former first-round pick averaged nearly 19 points per game back in 2018-19. He’s also substantially younger than Ingles and fills a larger need at the power forward position.
Moving up from the 30th selection to 22 overall would also enable Utah to add a higher-quality prospect to build around the core two of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert.