As the Los Angeles Lakers continue to stutter through the first half of the current NBA season, the rumor mill continues to churn.
According to Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus, the Lakers are rumored to hold interest in acquiring DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic from the Chicago Bulls should the Eastern Conference team be willing to hit the reset button.
“According to NBA sources, the Lakers are interested in both Vučević and DeRozan. If L.A. is willing to give up two first-round picks (2027 and 2029) along with Russell Westbrook as a buy-out candidate, the Bulls may end up in a better lottery position to retain their pick in June. This is the draft to do it,” Pincus wrote on December 10.
Right now, it’s clear that the Lakers are struggling to find the right balance, and their rotational players are not the type of supporting cast LeBron James and Anthony Davis need. So, by adding a veteran scoring machine in DeRozan and a stretch-five who can also dictate the offense atop the perimeter, Los Angeles could help create some additional space for their stars to operate in the half-court.
Of course, both DeRozan and Vucevic are on the wrong side of 30 and may not represent great value when giving up two future first-round picks that could likely become increasingly valuable in the coming years.
Chicago ‘Not Interested’ in Russell Westbrook
According to a December 9 article by Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, the Bulls are not interested in a deal that would send them Russell Westbrook, regardless of any future draft assets the Lakers may attach to sweeten the deal.
“So while the Lakers might be looking to make a big trade and have their eyes on the Bulls’ roster, the feeling isn’t mutual. According to a source, executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas has no interest in acquiring Russell Westbrook and his expiring contract, even if it means adding draft picks,” Cowley wrote.
If Chicago is truly not interested in Westbrook and the Lakers’ future first-round draft picks, then it would be prudent of Rob Pelinka to begin looking elsewhere for ways to improve the team’s roster.
Lakers Could Target Kyle Kuzma
According to Pincus in the same article, there is a slight chance that the Lakers could turn their attention to Kyle Kuzma, who has experience in playing alongside both LeBron and Davis, having won a championship with them in 2020.
“Another team to monitor would be the Lakers, knowing Kuzma has championship experience playing alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Giving up a first to both part and reunite with Kuzma would fit the Lakers’ track record,” Pincus wrote.
Since leaving the Lakers, Kuzma is averaging 18.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game while shooting 33.9% from deep on 6.2 attempts per game and 53.5% from two-point range. Should Kuzma find his way back to the Lakers, he would be an ideal fit alongside the team’s two stars and would provide an upgrade in both perimeter scoring and wing defense – two areas the Lakers are in need of improvement.