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Los Angeles Lakers favored to land Patty Mills during NBA free agency

It’s not a secret that the Los Angeles Lakers are looking to upgrade from Dennis Schroder at point guard this summer.

Schroder struggled in his first season in Southern California and is slated to become a free agent next month. Meanwhile, rumors persist that Los Angeles is looking at pulling off a potential sign-and-trade surrounding Schroder — adding some more assets to the mix.

Short of pulling off a blockbuster trade for someone like Russell Westbrook with their limited resources, the Lakers might be limited to the $9.54 million mid-level exception during free agency. It’s in this that the online odds-makers site Sports Betting came up with names who are favored to land with the Los Angeles Lakers during the summer.

Patty Mills favored to take over Los Angeles Lakers point guard duties

los angeles lakers free agent targets: patty mills
Jan 1, 2021; San Antonio, Texas, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills (8) brings the ball up against Los Angeles Lakers guard Dennis Schroder (17) in the first half at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports
  • Patty Mills, San Antonio Spurs: +150
  • Goran Dragic, Miami Heat: +200
  • Austin Rivers, Denver Nuggets: +250
  • Derrick Rose, New York Knicks: +300
  • Russell Westbrook, Washington Wizards: +400
  • Chris Paul, Phoenix Suns: +500

Obviously, some of these names are bigger than others. In addition to showing interest in Westbrook, the Lakers have been linked to Paul since his Suns fell short in the 2021 NBA Finals.

It seems highly unlikely at this point that Los Angeles would even have the assets to offer up Phoenix in a potential sign-and-trade for Paul. Should he opt out of his contract, the Lakers wouldn’t even have the cap room to add the future Hall of Famer to the mix by signing him outright.

Westbrook becomes a more realistic option should the Wizards accept a rumored package surrounding Schroder, Kyle Kuzma and young guard Talen Horton-Tucker. With that said, Russ seems to be a questionable fit with LeBron James and Anthony Davis in Los Angeles.

Circling back to Mills for a second. He might actually make sense and would fit the Lakers’ free-agent budget. The 32-year-old veteran has been a steady force for San Antonio over the past decade — averaging 8.9 points on 39% shooting from distance while playing solid defense. Any move to acquire Mills would likely be for him to back up another point guard moving forward.

Los Angeles Lakers are expected to be active

los angeles lakers trade kyle kuzma
May 25, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) and forward Kyle Kuzma (0) against the Phoenix Suns during game two of the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Despite being over the cap and with limited draft assets to offer up in trades, the expectation is that Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka will leave no stone unturned.

Both Schroder and Kyle Kuzma are key assets in that they will likely be able to bring back high-priced veterans to help King James and AD. In particular, Schroder is said to have some solid sign-and-trade value. He’s also looking at north of $20 million annually in free agency.

Kuzma also represents some level of intrigue for other teams in that the power forward is still only 25 years old and a couple years removed from averaging nearly 19 points per game. Cap fillers such as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and restricted free-agent guard Talen Horton-Tucker could help matters here.

It will certainly be interesting to see what the Los Angeles Lakers do this summer after a disappointing first-round exit in the playoffs for the 2020 NBA champions. Expect the unexpected. That’s what I have come to believe when looking at the Lakers from afar.

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