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Rumors Roundup: Buddy Hield, Malik Monk and free agency preview

With free agency little more than 24 hours away, rumors have begun circulating including the Lakers and players they could be interested in.

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Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images

As the clock ticks closer and closer to the start of free agency, rumors about who the Lakers might pursue are starting to seriously heat up. Who might the Lakers bring back from last season, and which players are they looking to add?

Let’s take a look at the free agency rumors and headlines from today.

Lakers targeting wings

Even after reports that the Lakers would be picking up player options on Stanley Johnson and Wenyen Gabriel, the team’s roster is still in dire need of some wing depth.

Predictably, the Lakers are targeting two-way wings with their taxpayer mid-level exception (TPMLE), according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic (emphasis mine).

With free agency less than 48 hours away, the Lakers are focusing on two-way wings, according to league sources. Most of the hypothetical scenarios for their taxpayer midlevel exception have been centered on signing a wing or two who could come in and start next to James and Davis. The Lakers believe a player with the right mix of 3-point shooting and multi-positional defense can help strengthen the James-Davis-Westbrook lineups, which opponents outscored by 3.0 points per 100 possessions last season, according to Cleaning the Glass.

In theory, targeting two-way wings makes perfect sense for what the Lakers need, but in reality, their current set of circumstances may prevent them from actually acquiring one. This free agency class has very few quality 3-and-D wings in it, and the ones who are available will likely attract offers greater than either the $6 million TPMLE or approximately $2 million minimum contracts the Lakers are allowed to offer.

Nonetheless, the Lakers are rumored to have interest in a handful of notable wing targets.

Malik Monk cashing in?

Last week, Malik Monk spoke about being open to returning to the Lakers on a discount. That discount would be from the full midlevel exception — which as a taxpaying team the Lakers do not have access to — to the TPMLE, which would represent a pay cut of about $6 million.

But just because he’s open to it does not mean it’ll happen and, as a result, Monk is searching the market for contracts, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

The Lakers would like to retain Malik Monk at their taxpayer mid-level, but Monk is also searching for more lucrative deals, sources said, despite telling Jovan Buha of The Athletic he’d be willing to return to Los Angeles on a discount.

As noted above, the Lakers are targeting two-way wings and will almost certainly need to use their TPMLE if they hope to acquire a legitimately good one. Perhaps if things play out differently, or if the Lakers pull off a Russell Westbrook trade, the situation may arise where Monk is the preferred candidate for the TPMLE.

But as it stands, it’s hard to see the Lakers using that on Monk, a guard who would likely get picked on defensively in the playoffs, especially when they can only use a total of $6 million on non-minimum players.

Hello, Buddy, my old friend

It isn’t a Lakers offseason until they’re linked to Buddy Hield. The man the team very, very nearly traded for last summer is now in Indiana, but is still available. According to Matt Moore of Action Network, the Lakers appear to be about as interested as they were last year.

As Indiana continues to take calls for Malcolm Brogdon and Myles Turner, the Lakers have circled back to a familiar target: Buddy Hield.

One of the original theoretical trades for Westbrook was with the Pacers for a package of Malcolm Brogdon and Hield. With trade options for Brogdon dwindling, perhaps the two sides circle back around to one another and see if a trade can be worked out.

An unexpected addition?

One new name linked to the Lakers on Wednesday was Bulls guard Coby White. With Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso — yeah that’s never going to not sting — DeMar DeRozan and (presumably) Zach LaVine all set to start the season on the Bulls, White’s ball handling opportunities could be scarce a target for the Lakers, according to Dan Woike of the LA Times.

The Lakers could also look to acquire players via trade, with rival executives believing Chicago’s Coby White could be a target. Moving Talen Horton-Tucker, a player whose ball-dominant skills are viewed by rival scouts as being redundant with the Lakers’ stars, could be a way to upgrade to suit the Lakers’ needs.

White is entering the last year of his rookie deal and is set to make $7.4 million next season before entering restricted free agency. A Talen Horton-Tucker trade for White would work financially while a Kendrick Nunn deal would come up about $751,000 short. Adding a player like Gabriel, for example, would be necessary to make a Nunn deal work.

Last season, White averaged a career-low 12.7 points on 43.3% shooting overall, but did shoot a career-best 38.5% from behind the 3-point line. He played in 27.5 minutes per game across 61 contests, but saw his usage rate decline sharply to 19.8% after being north of 22% in each of the previous two seasons.

Working out why exactly the Bulls would move him along with the logistics of a trade is a separate matter, but there are real reasons that the Lakers, with or without Russ on the roster, would be interested in Coby White.

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