Potential Trade Targets For The Lakers

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The Los Angeles Lakers are flying high at the top of the Western Conference, at present time. But that doesn’t stop rumours circling as the team are in need of another guard option, as well as a wing presence.

With the trade deadline fast approaching (February 6) and with the Lakers being, well the Lakers, speculation is running wild. Assets held by the purple and gold were demolished when Rob Pelinka and Co, this past summer, executed a trade to acquire superstar Anthony Davis. Kyle Kuzma appears to be the bait dangled in any trade packages speculated.

A recent report from Sam Amick of The Athletic states that the Lakers front office are entertaining offers for Kuzma. Later in the report, Amick suggested that this appears to be Pelinka doing his due diligence. Fans have been frustrated with the performances of Kuzma, who has had an injury-hit, inconsistent season so far, as he struggles to find his place on this now title contending Lakers team.

His trainer recently outing LeBron James in a social media rant certainly doesn’t help matters either. But apparently James and Kuzma’s relationship is intact according to various reports.

Plenty of trade options have been suggested in the media, which will be included in the round-up that follows:

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(Image/Rick Scuteri/Associated Press)

Bogdan Bogdanovic

Marc Stein of The New York Times tweeted on January 6 that the Sacramento Kings are among the teams interested in Kyle Kuzma, according to league sources. Stein went on to suggest that the Kings are aware that they would have to include 27-year-old guard Bogdan Bogdanovic, for starters, in any deal.

Bogdanovic is a ball-handling guard who can finish at the rim, and can be lights out from beyond the arc, on his day. He also has the ability to share the ball and create for others. So far this season, he is averaging 14.5 points, 3 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.1 steals, on 42.6% shooting, 38.3% from 3.

A later report from Sam Amick did hint that the Kings aren’t interested in a Kuzma-Bogdanovic trade straight up, hinting that the salaries aren’t even close. Bogdanonic is on a $8.5 million contract, Kuzma is on $1.9 million.

Jason Jones, who is a Kings reporter for The Athletic recently tweeted that Sacramento would have to be “blown away” with an offer for the 27-year-old sharpshooter and are content with his up-coming restricted free agent status.

But then, a recent report from Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times stated that the Lakers General Manager has “initiated a call” with the Kings to “gauge interest in Kuzma”.

It appears that a lot of work would need to be done to get a deal for Bogdan Bogdanovic over the line, especially with his $8.5 million contract. But he would very much fill a need for the Lakers, and would he be a better fit than Kuzma? Some think so.

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Davis Bertans

Another name linked with the purple and gold, is 27-year-old Latvian, Davis Bertans. This is only his 4th season in the NBA, but Bertans is slowly making a name for himself, especially for his antics from 3-point land.

Currently with the Washington Wizards, Bertans is shooting at an impressive 43.4% clip from beyond the arc. This is the 9th best conversion rate in the entire league. Throughout his 4 seasons, he is a 41.1% shooter from 3. That’s exactly what the Lakers need, right?

Well, it appears so. NBC’s Chase Hughes recently reported that multiple teams were interested in acquiring the services of Bertans, despite the Wizards wanting to re-sign him this summer. The teams mentioned were; the Philadelphia 76ers, Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, and of course, the Lakers.

There has been no mention of what would be included in a potential deal, but with Davis Bertans being a guard, being a sharpshooter, and having a breakout season, he certainly fits the mold for what the Lakers are looking to add to the roster.

In terms of contract status, his is currently on an expiring $7 million deal.

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(Image/Mark Sobhani/NBAE/Getty Images)

D.J. Augustin

This was one of the first names linked with the purple and gold via the trade market, D.J. Augustin of the Orlando Magic.

Heavy.com reported the Lakers’ apparent interest in the 32-year-old guard, suggesting that they have “inquired about a number of veteran point guards to help upgrade their backcourt”.

Former number 1 pick, Markelle Fultz seems to have revived his career in Orlando and has a strong hold in the starting line-up. Consequently, the Magic may be open to parting ways with Augustin.

With that, Augustin would certainly fit the bill with what the Lakers currently require. For starters, he’s a guard. He’s also a 3-point threat, a 38% career 3-point shooter. Additionally, he converts at a solid rate from the free-throw line.

Much like Bertans, D.J. Augustin is on an expiring $7.2 million contract.

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Robert Covington

Another need for the Lakers, aside from the backcourt, is out on the wing. This is where the Minnesota TimberwolvesRobert Covington comes into the frame.

Covington has been on the lips of Laker fans before the rumours starting circling. In an official capacity, it was ESPN’s Bobby Marks that first reported a potential package of Kuzma, Quinn Cook and DeMarcus Cousins as a proposal for Covington. But it wasn’t made clear if that would be enough for Minnesota to part ways with the 29-year-old forward.

Here’s the thing, while he would be a much-needed presence on the wing, Covington is an average career 3-point shooter that puts up basic numbers. He does rebound well but his numbers are similar to that of a “struggling” Kuzma this season.

Plus, he is currently within a 4-year, $46.8 million contract that will see him get paid $11.3 million this season, $12.1 million next season and $12.9 million the following.

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(Image/Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Marcus Morris

As we entered 2020, the New York KnicksMarcus Morris emerged as a potential trade option for the Lakers. Alongside city rivals, the Los Angeles Clippers, SNY’s Ian Begley suggested that the purple and gold were monitoring the market for Morris, doing their due dilligence.

The 30-year-old versatile forward is having a career-high season in points per game (19.1). He’s converting at an impressive 46.9% rate from beyond the arc, also a career-high. He can play both forward positions effectively and can be a spark off the bench, much like during his time with the Boston Celtics.

Marcus Morris fits the bill and more for what the Lakers are looking for, in a wing presence. This season he is red hot and them shooting numbers off the bench are Lou Williams-esque.

However, as with all of the above options, the contract poses a problem. As Morris is on an expiring $15 million deal. Many pieces would have to be moved in order to match salaries and complete a move.

Will the Lakers make a trade? Maybe, maybe not. It’s hard to say at present time given the success that the team is experiencing.

Tania Ganguli on January 10 stated that the Lakers are listening to trade offers for everyone, except LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Although, Ganguli added that Rob Pelinka and Co are not actually desperate to make a trade, unless the right deal comes along before the February 6 deadline.

Kyle Kuzma has stepped up in recent games, against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Dallas Mavericks, too. Dropping 36 points in the prior, and 26 in the latter. Being instrumental in picking 2 road victories, in the absence of star Anthony Davis, and LeBron James as well against the Thunder.

In fact, in the last 10 contests, Kuzma is averaging 17.6 points and 4.6 rebounds, on 44.5% shooting, with impressively less than 1 turnover per game.

Should the Lakers even part-ways with the 24-year-old to begin with? Possibly not. Or maybe other pieces of the Lakers’ roster could be packaged together and moved? It’s all a jigsaw at present time, but one that should become more clearer as February approaches.

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The Race for the Playoffs: Comparing Schedules

(Image/Getty Images)

As the race for the 2019 NBA Playoffs heats up, the Los Angeles Lakers look to sneak into the postseason standings, along with the Sacramento Kings who hold similar aspirations. Whilst the likes of the Los Angeles Clippers, San Antonio Spurs and Utah Jazz look to maintain their positions, to give the playoffs a crack.

No team has an ‘easy’ schedule in the remaining games after the All-Star break. It will most likely go down to consistency and who can pick up wins against the teams around them in the standings. Below, we take a look at the schedules of the teams fighting for playoff contention in the Western Conference.


Utah Jazz:

The Utah Jazz are currently in-amongst a tough part of their schedule. Shortly before the All-Star break they lost to the Golden State Warriors and most recently fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder, both in close fashion. The next 4 games for the Jazz includes the Clippers, as well as the high-flying Nuggets and Bucks.

The schedule does get considerably easier for Utah from then on, as they take on the likes of the Pelicans, Suns, and the Wizards multiple times. The Jazz take on the Lakers twice in the last 8 games of the season. Whilst also facing playoff hopefuls, the Kings and Clippers in that time too.

This is a team that plays hard and are capable of going on long winning streaks. They can battle toe-to-toe with the best, and considering that they do the business against the lesser teams in the league, we expect them to be in the postseason.


San Antonio Spurs:

Currently occupying the 7th seed in the Western Conference, the San Antonio Spurs lost most recently to the Toronto Raptors. The next three games present an opportunity for the Spurs to get back to winning ways, with games against the Knicks, Nets, and Pistons.

The Spurs’ schedule does not look the most difficult on paper, but does present tough games in deuces. To name a few, the Spurs take on the likes of the Thunder and Nuggets, the Trail Blazers and Warriors, the Rockets and Celtics, all in pairs within the final 25 games. Whilst you can never put a Gregg Popovich side down, we suspect that if San Antonio make the playoffs, it’ll probably involve crawling over the finish line.

(Image/Clips Nation)

Los Angeles Clippers:

Holding the final playoff spot, the Los Angeles Clippers are a team that hosts plenty of talent, even having traded away Tobias Harris to the Philadelphia 76ers shortly before the trade deadline. Many expect the Clippers to fall considerably down the rankings, giving up their playoff spot almost instantly. However, it appears that this may not be the case with recent reports suggesting that the team still have firm eyes on making the postseason.

The Clippers do host a relatively difficult next 10 games, taking on a lot of the teams around themselves, including the Jazz, Kings, and Lakers, with the Nuggets, Thunder, and Celtics mixed in there too. Given that they can get through those games relatively unharmed, the team will probably fancy their chances in the mid-part of the remaining schedule against the likes of the Cavs (twice), Knicks, Timberwolves, and Grizzlies (who they have just beaten).

The final 4 games will be the telling point for the Clippers’ postseason aspirations, as they will have to battle against the Rockets, Lakers, Warriors, and Jazz. It looks like it could honestly go either way for the Clippers, it depends whether they stand strong or go on a lengthy losing streak, allowing the Kings and Lakers to capitalise.


Sacramento Kings:

Obviously, for the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Lakers to capitalise, they have to take care of business themselves. Easier said than done.

The Kings are currently involved in a tough stretch of their schedule, having lost to the Nuggets before the All-Star break and the Warriors last time out, both games by just 2 points. It doesn’t get any easier for the team, as they travel to Oklahoma next. Shortly after that, they take on the Bucks, Clippers, Celtics (twice), and 76ers.

Sacramento does have the opportunity to rack up the wins against the Bulls, Nets, Mavericks, and the Suns in the following games, before taking on the Lakers on the 25th March. The team finish the season with a reasonable final 4 games against the Cavs, Jazz, Pelicans, Trail Blazers.

The Kings are obviously a young talented bunch with Fox, Bagley III, and Heild, who have proved that they can keep it close against tough opponents. However, 14 of their final 25 games are on the road, and we do expect them to run out of steam. Inexperience may kick in at some point and put the playoffs out of reach. Sacramento do hold the longest playoff drought in the current NBA , having last made the playoffs back in 2006. They would love to make the playoffs over the Lakers, so the motivation will be there, for sure.

(Image/USA Today)

Los Angeles Lakers:

It’s not going to be easy for the Los Angeles Lakers to make the postseason. Currently, the team are 3 games behind the playoff spots, and according to Tankathon.com, the Lakers have the ninth-toughest remaining schedule with opponents averaging a .520 win percentage. 16 of the final 25 games of the season are against teams in playoff spots across the two conferences, 13 of the games are on the road also.

With a huge win against the Houston Rockets, spirits were raised instantly. The Lakers do need to keep the momentum going as they face the Pelicans (twice), Grizzlies, Bucks, and Suns in the next 5 games. This presents an opportunity to close the gap on the playoff places as early as March 3rd, given that they pick up wins.

Over the remainder of the schedule, the Lakers have to tackle many high-flyers including; the Nuggets, Thunder, Raptors, Bucks (again), Warriors, and Trail Blazers, as well as the Celtics, Jazz, and Clippers (twice) being sandwiched in amongst. The last five games of the season look horrific for Laker fans, as the team faces the Thunder, Warriors, Clippers, Jazz, and Trail Blazers in a row.

LeBron James has made the NBA Finals for the past eight straight seasons, and now he faces uncertainty whether his Lakers team will even make the playoffs. The last time James missed the playoffs was in the 2004/05 season with the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, if the team can rediscover the form that they had before James got injured, they could very well rise to the challenge and make the postseason, against the odds.

By Matt Evans (@mattyyyevans)