While the Lakers should be dealing with parade logistics and texting each other hangover cures as they celebrate title No. 17, the reality of the NBA offseason comes fast.
With Rajon Rondo and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope expected to exercise their player options and become free-agents this summer (Avery Bradley and JaVale McGee can join them), the Lakers need to look at their roster around LeBron James and Anthony Davis (AD will opt out but he’s not going anywhere). Los Angeles has just two rotation players under age 26 (Kyle Kuzma and Alex Caruso), and it needs more shooting and playmaking.
“I think both sides were reluctant when they went into in January, February,” one general manager told Heavy.com. “I don’t think the Lakers wanted to make a major move because they thought they could do something on the buyout market. And I don’t think the Pistons wanted to make a major move because Derrick was happy there. You know, the Lakers wanted to be involved in case the Clippers got involved or someone else, the Bucks or the Nuggets, whoever. So there was interest but not too serious. Now, everything has shifted a little. Now, they’re both in a position to where a deal is much more likely now.”
The Pistons are rebuilding and will want young players and picks in a trade; the Lakers have limited assets in that mold right now after everything they gave up to land Davis. The Lakers would not throw Kyle Kuzma in a deal at the deadline, but the Lakers need to ask how much they want to keep Kuzma long-term and at what price — he is up for a new contract in the 2021 offseason. That’s an offseason when the Lakers are trying to keep cap space open for a deep free-agent class. If the Lakers are not in the Kuzma business long-term, they should explore what they can get for him in a trade.
The Lakers’ offense dropped 6.9 points per 100 possessions when LeBron went to the bench and took his playmaking skills with him last regular season. That number was 6.1 in the playoffs. Rondo did a solid job running the offense when LeBron sat, but the Lakers need more playmaking and Derrick Rose would fill that role. He averaged 18.1 points and 5.6 assists in a sixth-man role for Detroit last season, playing 26 minutes a game. He’s also older and has an injury history, and while he seemed to have moved past it, this move does not make the Lakers younger.
Just another Lakers rumor to watch as they head into an interesting offseason as champs.