The Los Angeles Lakers are trying to move up in the draft and pitched a trade that sent Kyle Kuzma to the Indiana Pacers turned down, a recent report revealed.
The report comes via Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, who said the talks centered around the Pacers No. 13 overall pick.
Kuzma and the Lakers’ 22nd pick was also discussed with the Pacers. The talks centered around acquiring the 13th overall pick from Indiana and needed salary filler but was turned down, HoopsHype has learned.
Shortly after the report came out it was confirmed by J. Michael of the Indy Star.
“This is accurate. TJ Warren is healthy so they declined Kuz,” Michael tweeted. “Lakers have been hustling to jump into the lottery to get ahead of the Wizards.”
The Lakers have been actively shopping Kuzma, offering him to “everyone” along with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. The Lakers reportedly included him in a package to land Kings sharpshooter Buddy Hield, as well.
Who Are the Lakers Attempting to Draft by Moving Up?
There has been some speculation about which player the Lakers are trying to move up to draft, with many believing the prospect is Chris Duarte. There are rumors that the Lakers may have made a “promise” to Durate, per The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie.
“Chris Duarte remains the name that comes up most for the Lakers,” Vecenie explained. “He is working out for teams above the Lakers in the draft order, so I’m a bit dubious that there is a ‘promise’ here — or anywhere — for Duarte, something that teams around the league have speculated on throughout the pre-draft process.”
LSU guard Cam Thomas is someone else the Lakers have been linked to, which Vecenie broke down.
“So the Lakers go Thomas instead, a player who is invited to the 2021 NBA Draft Green Room but on whom I can’t quite get a read on his actual landing spots. Again, some evaluators really buy Thomas’ ability to get a bucket from anywhere, and others actively dislike the fact that he doesn’t pass or defend. The Lakers might be the perfect landing spot for him because I would venture LeBron James would hold him accountable on those things early in his career.”
Kyle Kuzma is Valuable Trade Piece for Lakers
Kuzma is just 26 years old and averaged 12.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, shooting just over 36% from 3-point land. He’s a valuable trade chip for the Lakers and it appears he could be ready for a fresh start as well, per Eric Pincus.
“I think [Kuzma] is ready to move on,” Pincus said. “Winning cures all and you’re willing to sacrifice, but this year they didn’t win and I think everyone is grumpier. I think they are exhausted mentally from what happened the last year or two.”
Kuzma talked this offseason about wanting a more “consistent” role next season. Whether that be with the Lakers or somewhere else is the question, although he’d likely get more touches on a team like the Pacers where Anthony Davis and LeBron James aren’t gobbling up most of usage on offense.
“My biggest thing is I just want to play within a consistent role,” Kuzma said. “If I have that ability, I’ll be able to showcase what I can really do. There were parts of this year—and even anywhere else in my career — when I’m in a consistent space, I’m out there handling the ball, making teammates better, scoring, shooting, defending, rebounding. I think if I’m in that space, I’ll be good.”