In the days leading to the trade deadline, there was plenty of chatter around the Los Angeles Lakers regarding potential moves. Much of which swirled around forward Kyle Kuzma being a primary target as the centerpiece of any significant trader. However, the Lakers elected to stand pat past Thursday’s deadline that has kept their current roster as constructed. The decision not to pull the trigger on any trades has also sent clarity what direction they will head in adjusting their team.
Lakers decide to keep Kyle Kuzma
Following the blockbuster trade from last offseason that landed the Lakers star forward Anthony Davis, Kuzma was the one remaining young piece left on the roster. However, his name had bounced around the trade rumor mill throughout much of the first half of the season.
Over the last couple of days, Kuzma’s name was linked to the likes of the New York Knicks as part of a deal in exchange for Marcus Morris. However, the Lakers decided to pull him out of any deal that opened the door for the LA Clippers to snag Morris.
The decision to keep Kuzma may have been due to their not being a more feasible offer out there, but it does give him a chance to prove further he can step up as the team’s third scoring option. He has had his struggles since returning to the floor from his foot injury but can now play with a strong level of comfort with the knowledge that he won’t be moved.
The Lakers will need Kuzma to be a substantial factor off the bench as one of their primary scorers. He has turned it up a notch in the last three games, including a pair of double-doubles. If Los Angeles hopes to compete for an NBA title, he will need to play a significant part in the puzzle.
Focused on Darren Collison
It has become clear over the last few weeks that the Lakers have a need to add another ball-handler in the backcourt. Lingering in that conversation has been veteran point guard Darren Collison, who is working his way back towards making a comeback from his brief retirement.
Both Los Angeles teams are expected to be the frontrunners for Collison once he makes his push to get back in the league after the All-Star break. It’s being reported that the Lakers are perceived to be the slight favorites to land the 32-year-old if he pursues a comeback.
The Clippers remain in the picture a viable landing spot. The three-team trade that landed them Morris also included veteran point guard Isaiah Thomas. It was initially believed that Thomas’ addition would take them out of the running for Collison, but it turns out that the team will waive the former All-Star.
All of that sets up what should an intense battle between both teams to add him to the mix, which may come down to where he fits in best with a more defined role.
Buyout Market and JR Smith?
Another avenue that the Lakers are more than likely to visit with the be the buyout market.
At this current juncture, there are no notable players that could intrigue Los Angeles to make a move. There are plenty of players that could become available as teams look to slash salaries or open up spots on their roster.
The Lakers are currently sitting at all their roster spots being filled, but the team has the flexibility to free up a spot, such as waiving DeMarcus Cousins if necessary. It’s also intriguing that the team is expected to work out veteran guard JR Smith next week.
Smith has plenty of experience playing next to James from their time together with the Cleveland Cavaliers while he could provide additional scoring. All of this only further underlines that the Lakers will have options available to them to improve their roster despite not making any moves at the trade deadline.