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Los Angeles Lakers rumors, top trade & free-agent targets for 2021 NBA offseason

LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers were knocked out of the NBA Playoffs, ending their title hopes in the first round and beginning the NBA offseason far earlier than expected. In what will be the most critical summer for the franchise in years, Lakers rumors will be flying around this offseason.

Anthony Davis and LeBron will be back with the team next season and there’s reason to be optimistic that both stars will be far healthier than we saw in Game 6. But it’s evident that durability will be a problem for Davis throughout his career and James no longer can carry a team like he used to after 18 NBA seasons.

If Los Angeles wants to rebound next season, Rob Pelinka needs to make significant changes in the summer. Let’s dive into the latest Lakers rumors.

Los Angeles Lakers rumors: Latets on Anthony Davis injury

Los Angeles might have beaten the Suns if not for Davis’ groin injury in the first round. Seeing Chris Paul and Co. go on to sweep the Denver Nuggets just made it more evident that injuries kept the Lakers from another title run. While the 2021-’22 season is months away, Davis is already feeling confident.

“I feel good though, chat. Groin feels real good. Trust me, we’re going to be ready for next year. We’re going to be right. We’re going to be RIGHT!”

Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis on his groin injury

Getting the healthiest versions of James and Davis is what really matters for the Lakers this offseason, this team stands no chance of winning in the playoffs without them. Things are headed in the right direction and a normal offseason will help, but they also need the Lakers’ front office to provide greater support.

Andre Drummond won’t take discount to re-sign

The Lakers reportedly promised Andre Drummond he would be a starter after he hit the buyout market. An opportunity to prove himself before hitting free agency and the chance to compete for the defending NBA champions helped convinced Drummond to sign a team-friendly deal with Los Angeles. Don’t expect that to happen again.

When a fan suggested on Instagram (H/T Lakers Daily) that Drummond return to the Lakers on the minimum, the former All-Star center responded “you drunk.”

No one can blame the 6-foot-10 big man for refusing to sign another deal below his worth. While he’s very flawed as a player, no longer the two-time All-Star we saw in 2016 and ’18, he is more valuable than a minimum contract. There are plenty of NBA teams who will need a reliable big man who can dominate the glass (13.7 rpg in career). Ultimately, Drummond might be out of the Lakers’ price range and given he didn’t play in Game 6 or Game 7, they’re fine with that.

Latest on Dennis Schroder’s free agency

Los Angeles faces a tough decision with Dennis Schroder. As mentioned below, he ended his season on an underwhelming note and there were some in the organization displeased with his work. But he’s a talented guard and one the Lakers would like to bring back. However, he is going to draw plenty of interest.

The Athletic’s Shams Charania mentions the Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks and Toronto Raptors as clubs who will be involved in the Schroder sweepstakes this offseason. Charania also noted that if Schroder doesn’t return, Los Angeles would explore a sign-and-trade.

New York’s potential interest in Schroder isn’t a surprise as the franchise will be in the market for a starting point guard this season. Given the Lakers’ cap situation, the likeliest outcome is Schroder landing with another team via sign-and-trade.

Multiple teams interested in Alex Caruso, Talen Horton-Tucker

The Lakers will see plenty of their role players hit free agency this summer, but the franchise is particularly interested in retaining two of them. On a roster carried by two stars drafted by other organizations, Los Angeles recognizes the value of retaining homegrown talent.

The Athletic’s Jovan Buha shared that Alex Caruso is the Lakers’ free agent most coveted by other teams. Furthermore, per Cleveland.com’s Chris Feder, Caruso and Talen Horton-Tucker are both on the Cleveland Cavaliers’ radar this offseason.

Los Angeles can extend THT a qualifying offer, which would make him a restricted free agent. But there’s a real possibility that one of these two is playing elsewhere next season. As for another homegrown talent, Kyle Kuzma, his future with the Lakers is also uncertain.

Myles Turner trade a possibility?.

Lakers rumors
Mar 31, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner (33) dunks the ball while defended by Miami Heat guard Duncan Robinson (55) during the first quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Lakers have found short-term solutions at center, allowing Anthony Davis to play in the spot he is most comfortable, in recent years. But center is once again a concern on the roster, especially with the futures of Drummond and Marc Gasol uncertain. But there might be one name to keep an eye on.

IndyStar’s J. Michael reports the Lakers expressed interest in Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner before the NBA trade deadline. While a deal never happened, changes in Indiana this summer could result in the center being available.

Turner, age 25, would be a nice fit in Los Angeles. While his scoring averages are low (12.7 ppg in career), he averaged 1.5 3-pointers made last season and is reliable on the defensive end. Pairing him with Davis would give the Lakers an incredible defense around the rim and plenty of defensive versatility. While there will be several teams bidding for a Turner trade, Los Angeles would be smart to stay involved.

Montrezl Harrell to leave this summer?

Many saw the Montrezl Harrell signing as a huge addition for the Lakers, stealing a top player from their in-city rival and further bolstering the bench. But Harrell’s time in Los Angeles ended on a sour note and the veteran’s recent Instagram post might hint at his future.

Holding a $9.72 million player option, Harrell might find more playing time and a higher salary elsewhere. He can certainly provide scoring, but his inability to defend resulted in DNP-CD’s in Game 2 and Game 3 against the Suns. With all of the needs the Lakers have, Harrell leaving might allow the front office to address more versatile and impactful players.

Kelly Oubre Jr. a potential target?

According to Bally Sports, the Lakers are interested in signing free-agent wing Kelly Oubre Jr. this summer. The 25-year-old is expected to be in high demand, with multiple teams placing a premium on his impact as a defender.

Oubre Jr. spent the past season with the Golden State Warriors, but isn’t expected to return. Steve Kerr already made it clear Klay Thompson will reclaim his starting spot, pushing Oubre Jr. to the bench. As a result, the Warriors aren’t expecting him to re-sign.

It’s understandable for Los Angeles to see Oubre Jr’s defensive capabilities as an ideal fit with Frank Vogel. But for as much as the front office and coaching staff might like him, this isn’t a realistic option.

For one, Oubre Jr. could be eyeing a contract worth more than $18 million per season and the Lakers don’t have room for that. Furthermore, he wouldn’t improve a roster that lacked consistent and willing outside shooters around LeBron.

Oubre Jr. shot just 31.6% from beyond the arc this past season. He wasn’t any better on shots from 16-to-21 feet, per Basketball Reference, shooting 31%. Just as alarming, he ranked 415th in Offensive Win Shares (0.0) on the season. The Lakers can admire his game, but he’s not cost-effective for a team that must find shooting.

Rob Pelinka outlines plans for offseason

Los Angeles Lakers rumors
FILE PHOTO: NBA: Finals-Los Angeles Lakers at Miami Heat

Rob Pelinka did an excellent job building a championship roster, but many of his moves this year didn’t work out. Montrezl Harrell combined for just 25 total minutes in the final three games against Phoenix, never playing in a victory and Andre Drummond didn’t leave the bench in Game 6.

  • Los Angeles Lakers free agents: Dennis Schroder, Wesley Matthews, Alex Caruso (Bird Rights), Andre Drummond, Ben McLemore, Montrezl Harrell ($9.49 million player option)

With so much work to be done this summer and a majority of the roster eligible for free agency, Pelinka outlined how the Lakers will approach the offseason.

“I’m convinced that, again, without some of the unforeseen circumstances this year, the challenges that we had to face, that we’d be a championship-caliber team. So the goal is to try to keep that core group together.”

Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka

Schroder, Matthews, Caruso, Drummond and Marc Gasol have each expressed interest in returning. While Los Angeles would like for each of them to return, it isn’t an affordable option.

Pelinka was asked specifically about Caruso and Talen Horton-Tucker. Both were drafted and developed by the Lakers and should be priorities this summer. But even with Bird rights, it’s realistic that only Horton-Tucker returns.

Pelinka didn’t regret adding Drummond during the season and the club is interested in retaining him. While he’ll likely find a better market than Hassan Whiteside did last offseason, the All-Star center may struggle to find really lucrative offers.

As for Schroder, whose on-court play reportedly frustrated the Lakers, his value to Los Angeles might only be the potential return in a sign-and-trade.

Dennis Schroder sign-and-trade possible this summer

Los Angeles Lakers
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA world was buzzing last offseason when the Los Angeles Lakers acquired Dennis Schroder. He was supposed to provide playmaking and athleticism, taking some pressure off LeBron. Los Angeles was so confident about his potential impact, it offered him an $84 million extension but he wanted more.

Schroder is now coming off an atrocious performance in the NBA Playoffs, which will likely cost him millions. When he missed all nine of his shots in Game 5, he became the first Lakers’ player to not score on nine-plus attempts in a playoff game since the franchise moved to Los Angeles.

There will still be a market for the 27-year-old guard. He was a Sixth Man of the Year candidate with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2019, averaging 18.9 points per game. A sign-and-trade is the most logical path for the Lakers to bring in more talent and it will be a big storyline to follow this offseason.

Will the Lakers trade Kyle Kuzma?

Los Angeles made Kuzma untouchable during negotiations for the Anthony Davis trade. While he has made an impact at times, with flashes that earned a $40 million contract extension, the Lakers now feel quite differently about the 25-year-old.

NBA executives told Bleacher Report, Los Angeles shopped Kuzma around the league before the NBA trade deadline. While a deal never came to fruition, the Lakers seemingly recognized that it might be time to move on from the young big before his extension kicked in.

Kuzma shot 23.5 percent from the field against the Phoenix Suns, he struggled defensively and brought nothing when Davis was sidelined. His trade value has diminished significantly from a few years ago, but he is still a piece the Lakers could use this summer to change the roster.

Los Angeles Lakers targets: Examining best options in free agency and trade market

Los Angeles Lakers
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

NBA rumors about Chris Paul opting out of his contract created plenty of buzz. The future Hall of Famer is close friends with LeBron and has a home in Los Angeles. But the Lakers have enough limitations financially this summer, with many key rotation players hitting the open market and the luxury tax line still a problem.

Assuming Paul is out of the Lakers’ price range and Kawhi Leonard re-signs with the Los Angeles Clippers, there are a few other options.

Related: NBA MVP Race 2021-22 – The old and the young converge

Sign-and-trade for Kyle Lowry

The Lakers pursued a trade for Lowry during the season, but ultimately came up short. Lowry, 35, is headed for free agency this offseason. But Toronto might want to get something back for him via sign-and-trade, opening the door for the Lakers and other clubs to get involved.

Los Angeles refused to move Talen Horton-Tucker during in-season negotiations with Toronto. While Pelinka might still stand by that decision, getting knocked out of the playoffs in six games should be a wake-up call. The Lakers can include Schroder, providing the Raptors with another guard, to help the financial side of the deal line up.

Lowry would provide many of the things the Lakers need. He is a capable playmaker, averaging 7.3 assists per game this past season and he shot 39.6 percent from beyond the arc. Paired with his defense and ability to create shots, he might be an ideal fit with Davis and LeBron.

Lakers add Patty Mills

Los Angeles needs to find more outside shooting, especially those who are actually willing to take the shots when LeBron or Davis feeds them the ball. Mills, who will be a free agent this summer, could be a nice addition to the Lakers’ bench. He averaged 2.4 3-points made per game this season, playing around 25 minutes per contest. While his 37.5 percent 3-point rate isn’t great, the 32-year-old would find more opens shots in Los Angeles.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Lakers, check out #TheLakeShow rumors, rankings, and news here

Kelly Olynyk

Lakers rumors
NBA: Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers

Los Angeles could lose several of its bigs this summer, creating an immediate void at the position. Given spending will be tight, the Lakers may have to fill the void with complementary pieces and Olynyk might fit one of the team’s big needs.

The 6-foot-11 big man is more than comfortable firing from deep, boasting confidence in his shot that some on the Lakers roster seem to lack. Olynyk shot 34.2% from beyond the arc this past season. He isn’t a fantastic rebounder, with his contested rebounds rate tied with Bradley Beal and Tobias Harris, he won’t be a liability on the glass.

Lakers free agent target: Reggie Bullock

Los Angeles Lakers rumors, Lakers free agent targets
NBA: New York Knicks at Cleveland Cavaliers

We can’t emphasize enough the need for the Lakers to add more trusted shooters on the perimeter. It’s exactly what the front office needs to find in free agency, even working with a limited budget. There will be multiple suitors for Reggie Bullock, but he does fit what this team needs.

Bullock is a career 39.2% shooter from 3-point range in his career and he took that to another level this past season with the New York Knicks. The 6-foot-6 forward averaged 2.5 3-pointers made per game, hitting 41% of his shots from deep. Put him on the floor with defensive attention on LeBron and Davis, Bullock will hit the open shot.

What moves do you think the Los Angeles Lakers need to make? Let us know below.