The NBA trade deadline came and went without the Los Angeles Lakers making a move, but the team will be able to revisit deals this offseason. Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz is pushing the Lakers to look at landing a sharpshooter this summer in exchange for fan-favorite Kyle Kuzma.
Swartz’s trade proposal has the Lakers acquiring Kings starting shooting guard Buddy Hield in exchange for Kuzma, Marc Gasol and Alfonso McKinnie. The Lakers are among the worst three-point shooting teams in the NBA this season ranking 24th at 35.1% from behind the arc. Hield has been lethal throughout his career shooting above 38 percent from three-point range in five straight seasons. The Kings guard is averaging 16.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists while shooting 38.3 percent in 50 starts this season.
“While he looked like one of the league’s best three-point shooters a few seasons ago, Hield just hasn’t performed up to expectations in Sacramento,” Swartz detailed. “Playing between LeBron James and Anthony Davis would give Hield the most spacing he’s ever had while also receiving passes from one of the NBA’s all-time greats. A lifetime 40.5 percent marksman from three already, Hield’s game would take off with the Lakers. Kuzma will always be a reserve with Anthony Davis around, so moving him for a potential high-level starting shooting guard seems like a no-brainer.”
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Hield Is Set to Make $22 Million Next Season
The Kings have a glut of guards on the roster, and Hield has been the subject of trade rumors since he signed his new four-year, $94 million contract. The question is whether the Lakers view Hield as someone worth the $22 million salary he is slated to make next season. Los Angeles has several guards hitting free agency this offseason who they will attempt to keep including Dennis Schroder, Alex Caruso and Talen Horton-Tucker.
Kuzma has been a solid contributor for the Lakers this season and appears to be settling into his role with the team during the LeBron era. The forward is averaging 12.7 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists for the Lakers this season.
Kuzma will start his new three-year, $39 million deal next season which gives him a $13 million annual salary. This is much more team-friendly than Hield’s contract.
Verdict: Hield Is Too Expensive for the Lakers
While it is true the Lakers need shooting, Hield’s price tag is likely too high for L.A. to pursue a trade. Hield’s addition also makes it less likely the Lakers would keep their trio of Schroder, Caruso and Horton-Tucker intact. Kuzma’s contract is manageable for the Lakers moving forward and losing a key piece of their core is another added challenge of the deal. Lakers head coach Frank Vogel recently praised Kuzma’s consistency this season.
“Kuz plays hard. That’s the simplest way to put it,” Vogel noted, per Lakers Nation. “I’ve never had a problem with when you have a guy like that gives maximum effort on the defensive end. There’s going to be certain matchups that are challenging for him, but you can say that about any player. But when he brings a high level of focus and a high level of defensive intensity and effort, he’s going to more than survive out there.”
Fans can expect the Lakers to explore adding shooters this offseason but there are more cost-effective ways for L.A. to fill this void. We are likely to continue seeing the Lakers linked to more players as the offseason gets closer.