Will Lakers big offseason move be a Buddy Hield trade?

Oklahoma City Thunder v Sacramento Kings
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Rob Pelinka and the Lakers feel the pressure: The championship window with LeBron James will only be open so long and they need to maximize it. Now.

While the Lakers’ name comes up as a big game hunter for players such as DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry — a great fit, but the sign-and-trade to land him would hard cap the Los Angeles, gut the team’s depth and make rounding out a championship-level roster next to impossible — and Russell Westbrook, the reality likely will be smaller moves. Such as finding a point guard for the taxpayer mid-level exception of $5.9 million (Austin Rivers, anyone?) and finding a shooter in a trade for Kyle Kuzma (who has limited value in the eyes of other teams).

There remains a lot of smoke around a Buddy Hield to the Lakers trade. The latest is from Sam Amick of The Athletic.

Of all the scenarios for a supporting player believed to be in play, one source close to the situation indicated the Hield deal — which would involve forward Kyle Kuzma and would also likely require Lakers forward Montrezl Harrell to opt in to the final year of his deal (worth $9.7 million) and be included — appears the most promising thus far.

For the Kings, Kuzma (three years, $39 million combined on his deal) and Harrell ($9.7 million next season if he opts in) could fit in well on the roster that is now being built around De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton.

Harrell is believed to be leaning toward opting into his $9.7 million rather than testing the free agent market.

If he’s willing to play a role — and guys tend to fall in line in a LeBron-led locker room — Hield is a great fit for the Lakers. He is a sharpshooter who has to be respected at the arc — he took 72% of his shots from 3 last season and hit 39.1% of them — and he can put the ball on the floor and drive if he is overplayed. He can run some pick-and-roll and do some secondary shot creation. He’s also locked in for three seasons after this one.

Westbrook is a bigger name and would put up bigger numbers, but is he a better fit? Westbrook is not the same threat without the ball in his hands, and the Lakers aren’t taking the ball out of the hands of LeBron and Anthony Davis. Westbrook is not a 3-point shooter anyone fears (31.5% last season). Defensively, teams will help off Westbrook to double the Lakers’ other stars.

Never underestimate the draw of LeBron and the Laker brand; they could make a bold move this offseason that surprises everyone. Pelinka has proven creative.

But whatever the moves or lack of them, the chances of another Lakers’ title come down to one thing: How healthy are LeBron and Davis for the playoffs? If they are close to 100%, the Lakers are contenders. If not, well, we saw it this season.

Watch Dinwiddie get ejected for elbow to Poole’s face; Mavs still win behind Doncic 41 points

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Dallas has gotten in trouble this season because of a lack of secondary shot creation behind Luka Doncic, so when Spencer Dinwiddie got ejected for an elbow to the face of Golden State’s Jordan Poole, it seemed like the Mavericks might be in danger of falling to the Warriors.

Doncic had other plans — and a 41-point triple-double.

The ejection happened early in the fourth quarter, when Dinwiddie drove the lane on Poole and, bringing the ball up, elbowed Poole in the face.

That was reviewed by the referees who ruled it a Flagrant 2. The league has cracked down on blows to the face and head — intentional or not — the past couple of seasons.

Dinwiddie being out just meant more Luka — and that was bad news for the Warriors.

Despite Doncic and his triple-double, the Warriors had a couple of chances in the final seconds. First, Stephen Curry got called for a travel.

The Warriors argued that call but got nowhere with the referees. But they got one more chance on a Klay Thompson 3 to tie, but it was just not their night.

The Mavericks got the 116-113 win. Tim Hardaway Jr. pitched in 25 points, including five 3-pointers for Dallas. Curry led the Warriors with 32.

Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns out 4-6 weeks with calf strain

Minnesota Timberwolves v Washington Wizards
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It’s not good news, but it looked like it could have been much worse.

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns is out for weeks with a right calf strain, the team announced Tuesday following an MRI exam. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports it is likely 4-6 weeks.

The injury occurred midway through the third quarter Monday when Towns started to run back upcourt and went to the ground without contact, grabbing his knee and calf. It looked scary — Achilles scary — and he had to be helped off the court.

Towns has averaged 21.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and while his numbers are down this season — just 32.8% on 3-pointers — the team has struggled at times without him, particularly lineups with Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards together, an -11.8 net rating (in non-garbage time minutes, via Cleaning the Glass).

Kevin Durant on chasing MVP: ‘Not really, I’ve been there, done that’

Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets
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Kevin Durant carried the Nets to another win Monday night, scoring 45 points on 19-of-24 shooting, plus seven rebounds and five assists.

If you’re having an MVP conversation a quarter of the way into the NBA season, Durant has to be part of it: 30 points per game on 54.8% shooting (and a ridiculous 65.9 true shooting percentage), 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game, plus playing solid defense and being the anchor of the Nets. After his 45-point outing to get Brooklyn a win over Orlando, Durant was asked about MVP chants and the chase for the award and was clearly not interested.

Durant has MVP numbers, but so do Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and others. If Durant is going to move to the front of the conversation, the first thing that has to happen is Brooklyn has to win a lot more games — 11-11 is not going to cut it when Tatum’s Celtics and Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have the two best records in the NBA. Winning games and finishing on a top-three team in the conference matters to some voters (and traditionally is one measure of an MVP).

Watch Herb Jones inbound off Pokusevski’s back, seal win for Pelicans

Oklahoma City Thunder v New Orleans Pelicans
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With 2.3 seconds left in the game and the Thunder down 2, they needed to steal the inbounds pass from New Orleans to have a real chance. That’s why when Aleksej Pokusevski walked on the court it looked like he was going to guard the inbounder, Herbert Jones.

Instead, Pokusevski turned his back to Jones, putting himself in position to step in front of anyone cutting to the ball to catch the inbounds. Except, Jones made the clever play to seal the game.

Pokusevski fouled Jones, who sank both free throws and sealed the 105-101 Pelicans win.

The Pelicans got 23-8-8 from Zion Williamson and picked up a win without CJ McCollum or Brandon Ingram in the lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his dominant start to the season and scored 31.