Sure, the Lakers are among the teams that would be interested in Pistons guard Derrick Rose. And why not? They badly need help off the bench and at point guard, and Rose checks both boxes. He is averaging 18.4 points and 5.8 assists and would be among the top candidates for Sixth Man of the Year if it weren’t for the Pistons’ poor record.
Besides, the Lakers are in the market for everyone these days.
So what would it take to get Rose? The market has always been squirrely on him, given his injury history, his past legal trouble and his sometimes-awkward interactions with the media. Rose is a good contributor, but there are teams who determined a while ago that he is not worth the trouble—despite the fact that he’s been reliable in Detroit.
If the Pistons can drum up a good market for Rose and the Lakers are determined to get him, it could cost them Kyle Kuzma, the guy no one’s quite sure whether the Lakers want to give up. If the Pistons don’t find much Rose interest, the Lakers could be in a position to make a lowball offer. Here are some sample choices:
Option 1: Kuzma-for-Rose, Direct
Lakers get: Derrick Rose, Detroit’s 2022 first-round pick
Pistons get: Kyle Kuzma, Quinn Cook
According to league sources, if the Lakers deal away Kuzma, they’ll need to get back a useful player and a first-round draft pick of some quality. This package would seem to satisfy those criteria.
The Pistons are not looking to give up picks, but maybe Kuzma would be deemed to be worth giving up one three drafts into the future. Detroit is expecting to be bad next season, so there’s little chance they’d give up their first-rounder in 2021—there’s no point in tanking if there’s no immediate draft-lottery reward.
But a 2022 pick makes more sense and gives the Lakers some flexibility should they need to make a pick-for-player move at some point next year. They currently can’t trade any of their picks under league rules.
Considering Rose was a relatively cheap find, flipping him for Kuzma, even if it means sending a future pick, is quite a steal. Kuzma has not found his niche with the LeBron James-Anthony Davis Lakers this season, but he did average 18.7 points last year and could be a smooth forward complement to the rough-edged game of rookie Sekou Doumboya. It would probably not make Kuzma all that happy, however.
Option 2: Doubling Down on Detroit
Lakers get: Derrick Rose, Markieff Morris
Pistons get: Bogdan Bogdanovic, Quinn Cook, Troy Daniels
Kings get: Kuzma
Let’s suppose the Pistons are not willing to give up a pick in a Kuzma deal and don’t want to bring in Kuzma if he doesn’t really want to be in Detroit. The team could make a play for Bogdan Bogdanovic, a restricted free agent this summer.
The Lakers would get back to players who would immediately bolster their championship chances, though the team would be sacrificing an important young asset to do so.
The Kings likely can’t afford to pay Bogdanovic when he hits restricted free agency this summer and though the team has resisted putting him on the trade market, Sacramento is plummeting out of the playoff chase and could be ready to fold on this season.
Bogdanovic is already 27 and has said he wants to win wherever he goes next. Detroit will be a long way from winning so it’d be a risk to bring in a veteran who might not want to be with the Pistons, even if the team does control his rights next summer.
Option 3: Buy Low
Lakers get: Derrick Rose
Pistons get: Frank Ntilikina, Troy Daniels
Knicks get: Quinn Cook, Talen Horton-Tucker
The view of Rose around the league is wildly inconsistent. There’s a reason the Pistons were able to sign him for just two years and $15 million last summer—and a reason Rose leaped at the chance to sign that deal at the opening for free agency. If Rose had let the Pistons’ offer lapse, there might not have been much else out there for him.
Despite Rose’s solid numbers, the Pistons might find a tight trade market, if the light demand for him in free agency is any indication.
In that case, the Lakers might not have to give up much—Cook and Daniels can be replaced and Horton-Tucker is a promising prospect who probably won’t play much with LeBron’s Lakers. That’s a low cost for Rose.
It may be that the best the Pistons can do is pluck Ntilikina from the Knicks and see if he might flourish with a change of scenery. New York would be plenty pleased to get any type of return for Ntilikina, the No. 8 pick in the 2017 draft, and Horton-Tucker is a long-armed, versatile wing who is just 19 years old. There’s more than one front-office exec who thinks highly of his potential.
That might not be enough for the Pistons, who are said to be perfectly willing to hang on to Rose past the deadline and perhaps look to deal him in the summer.