The NBA Playoffs were forever altered by injuries and the Los Angeles Lakers felt the brunt of it with Anthony Davis sidelined and LeBron James greatly limited. Even when both return fully healed, Los Angeles knows it needs to add this summer to win another NBA championship.
If the Lakers want to add talent this offseason, though, it will require creativity from general manager Rob Pelinka. With very little cap room, sign-and-trades are the only realistic avenue to acquire championship-caliber talent. Fortunately, this franchise does have enough pieces to make something happen.
Let’s examine three sign-and-trades the Los Angeles Lakers could make this summer.
Buddy Hield traded to Los Angeles Lakers
A team with two of the best players in the NBA is great, but the talent around LeBron and AD was insufficient. It’s not difficult to find on of this club’s biggest shortcomings. Los Angeles ranked 23rd in 3-point attempts per game (31.3) and finished 21st in 3-point shooting percentage (35.4%). On top of that, the Lakers finished with one of the lowest 3-point marks from the corner (36.7%).
- Los Angeles Lakers trade: No. 22 pick, Kyle Kuzma, Alfonzo McKinnie
- Sacramento Kings trade: Buddy Hield
Enter Buddy Hield. While he doesn’t get a ton of attention playing for the Sacramento Kings, the 28-year-old is one of the most unstoppable shooters from beyond the arc. Even in a rather underwhelming season by his usual standard, Hield averaged 4.0 3-pointers made per game, shooting 39.1% overall and 46.9% from the corner.
Sacramento would be more than happy to move off his contract. Going from Hield to Kuzma will save the franchise millions of dollars, money the organization needs, take out a problematic player in the locker room and the No 22 pick will inject some youth. Meanwhile, the Lakers acquire a role player who fills a need perfectly.
DeMar DeRozan returns to Los Angeles
DeMar DeRozan is available this summer and there’s plenty of reason to connect dots with Los Angeles. For one, the 31-year-old guard grew up in the region and would love an opportunity to compete for a championship with this franchise. Reports also surfaced that the Lakers are interested in him, but it doesn’t take an insider to make that connection.
- Los Angeles Lakers receive: DeMar DeRozan (sign-and-trade)
- San Antonio Spurs receive: No. 22 pick, 2028 first-round pick (lottery protected) and Kyle Kuzma
Kuzma needs to be in the deal to help salaries match, but he might also interest the Spurs a bit. More importantly for San Antonio, acquiring a first-round pick this year and potentially another selection down the line. Given this would be a sign-and-trade move, it’s also a better outcome than losing him for nothing.
DeRozan certainly wouldn’t help address the Lakers’ issues from the perimeter. But while that isn’t part of his game, he is still a playmaker who could fit alongside LeBron and Davis. DeRozan averaged a career-high 6.9 assists per game this past season, tacking on 21.6 ppg and 59.1% true shooting percentage.
Kyle Lowry traded to Los Angeles Lakers
Our favorite trade scenario for the Lakers. Lowry wants to win another NBA championship and we know Los Angeles made a huge push to acquire him before the NBA trade deadline. With a sign-and-trade the likely outcome for the All-Star guard this summer, this is the player Pelinka should make a strong push for.
- Toronto Raptors acquire: Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, No. 22 pick
- Los Angeles Lakers acquire: Kyle Lowry
While Lowry’s defense is starting to dip a bit with age, he still brings the effort and basketball IQ that make him an annoyance for his competition. On the other side, he displays great court vision and will find the right man when the basketball is in his hands. Even when playing off ball, Lowry can make an impact with his shooting from beyond the arc (39.6%, 2.8 3PM/game in 2020-’21 season).
Toronto wanted Talen Horton-Tucker in a deal last time, but it should know that won’t happen this time around. Getting Kuzma, Harrell and a first-round pick in a S&T is solid for the Raptors. As for the Lakers, this could make them the favorite in the Western Conference.