The Lakers were looking to add shooting and playmaking at the trade deadline — that’s why the interest in Kyle Lowry, but the deal didn’t get done, possibly because the Lakers wouldn’t throw in Talen Horton-Tucker.
Lowry is not coming to Los Angeles this summer — he is reportedly asking for a free agent deal that starts at $25 million a year, and the Lakers can offer $5.9 million (and a sign-and-trade hard-caps the Lakers, creating more problems) — and for that matter neither is Ben Simmons. Veteran NBA reporter Marc Stein got into that in his new subscription newsletter.
Word is that the Lakers, on top of their well-chronicled need for more shooting, covet one more difference-making playmaker who would allow James and Davis to spend more time at power forward and center.
There is a lot of smoke around the idea of the Lakers being open to trading Kyle Kuzma, possibly with the No. 22 pick, to bring in help, although it’s fair to ask if that package nets a player much better than Kuzma (it’s not getting them in the Simmons conversation). Still, expect a lot of rumors (Stein says to expect Lonzo Ball rumors, but that is very difficult to pull off financially, for the same reason as with Lowry).
The draw of contending, living in Los Angeles, and playing with LeBron James may bring a veteran who would not normally take the taxpayer mid-level exception, but it’s not going to be a big name.
The more likely offseason is the Lakers re-sign Dennis Schroder (although the Bulls and Knicks may make a run at him and offer a larger role, and other teams are interested as well), Alex Caruso, Horton-Tucker, bring in someone for the midlevel. Then Frank Vogel can go to church every day next season and light a candle that LeBron and Anthony Davis stay healthy.
General manager Rob Pelinka will try to be more aggressive than that, but the Lakers are boxed in by their current payroll and the CBA, even if Jeanie Buss and the other owners are willing to pay more tax.