As the days go by, it seems more and more like the two longest-tenured Lakers could be on the move this summer. Because not only is the front office reportedly discussing a possible Kyle Kuzma trade with the Sacramento Kings, but it seems like they’re heavily shopping starting shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as well.
During the “Woj and Lowe Draft Special” on ESPN, NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Lakers have offered their two most tradeable role player contracts to just about every team in the league:
“They have literally offered Kyle Kuzma and KCP (to everyone). Almost every team I’ve talked to in the league has been offered some combination of Kuz and KCP, sometimes both of them, sometimes one of them, and that’s not going to get them back a point guard of Dennis (Schröder’s) stature.”
Adrian Wojnarowski says the Lakers have offered KCP and Kuzma to "almost every team" in the league pic.twitter.com/e38eTZeTgB— Jacob Rude (@JacobRude) July 25, 2021
As hilarious and borderline slanderous as that phrasing is, though, this is not surprising. Kuzma and Caldwell-Pope are each due $13 million apiece next season, and with only them, plus LeBron James and Anthony Davis (untouchable) as well as Marc Gasol and Alfonzo McKinnie (too small of contracts to bring back difference-makers) under contract for next season, it’s hardly a shock that the Lakers are canvassing the league ahead of the draft to see what they can get for their most tradeable $26 million in salary before free agency. It was kind of inevitable, honestly.
And like with all this stuff, we have to remember that these leaks only come out because someone wanted that information out there. I’m not going to speculate on who wanted the above report out, but approximately 10 minutes before, Shams Charania of The Athletic ($$$) offered a Kuzma update with a considerably different tone, presumably from a source with a very different narrative in mind:
The Lakers have received interest from several teams regarding Kuzma, sources said.
The truth, as always, is somewhere in the middle. The Lakers likely have gotten some interest in Kuzma, as the earlier report of him being the centerpiece of a potential Hield deal indicates. Some teams may still think Kuzma can be better than he’s shown for the Lakers, and be willing to buy low on him in the hopes he can be more productive outside of James and Davis’ prodigious shadows.
That said, Kuzma and Caldwell-Pope alone is also probably not going to get the Lakers a point guard of Dennis Schröder’s caliber. But could those two plus the Lakers’ draft pick be enough for a team looking to shed salary, or move on from a disgruntled player like Hield? Maybe.
Kuzma and Caldwell-Pope are good players, and plenty of teams would probably be fine relying on them in their rotation. They’re just probably not going to give up better players for them without a sweetener. And as other dominoes start to fall around the league over the next few days before the draft and free agency, we will likely hear plenty more buzz on those two names, mainly because of their contracts. They’re just (understandably) not going to be anyone’s first priority, and certainly not on their own, so we (and the Lakers) will just have to wait and see if they can eventually net anyone good in return.