Lakers Rumors: Julius Randle Trade, Mindaugas Kuzminskas and More
The Los Angeles Lakers always seem to be in the spotlight. And that means they always seem to be at the center of the rumor mill, too, especially in a season leading up to a summer where the team is expected to make a major push in free agency. Let's break down the latest rumors below. Julius Randle Julius Randle may not be long for the Lakers. On Tuesday night during NBA Countdown, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski said as much (
The Los Angeles Lakers always seem to be in the spotlight. And that means they always seem to be at the center of the rumor mill, too, especially in a season leading up to a summer where the team is expected to make a major push in free agency.
Let's break down the latest rumors below.
Julius Randle may not be long for the Lakers. On Tuesday night during NBA Countdown, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski said as much (h/t Jack Maloney of CBS Sports):
"One player whose future is very unlikely to continue with the Lakers is Julius Randle, their third year forward. Rob Pelinka, their general manager, and Magic Johnson, their president, will be faced with this question. Do they look to trade Randle between now and the February trade deadline and get back potentially a first-round draft pick for him, or do they roll the dice and wait until summer when he's a restricted free agent."
It isn't hard to see why Randle may not be in the team's future plans. For one, the team already has a promising young power forward in Larry Nance Jr. and has seen the emergence of rookie Kyle Kuzma at forward, who looks like the early steal of the 2017 NBA draft.
But if the Lakers are going to slash payroll this offseason to chase a few superstar free agents, they likely won't be able to pay market value for players like Randle.
At one point, Randle was unquestionably a crucial part of the team's young core. Now, players like Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kuzma seem more likely to be the pillars the team hopes to build around for the future.
Dealing Randle this season rather than watching him sign a bigger contract the Lakers may not have the cap space to match this offseason is a logical potential outcome.
Mindaugas Kuzminskas, due to a lack of playing time with the New York Knicks, may be seeking a new destination this season.
The Lakers are a potential team to keep an eye on if he's traded, per Marc Berman of the New York Post:
"Kuzminskas, a 3-point shooter who heard chants of 'Kuuuz' last season, has talked to his agent about his predicament. Sources indicated Kuzminskas' reps were gauging interest around the NBA.
"When he signed with the Knicks, there were four clubs that had interest, including the Lakers, Cavaliers and Hawks, according to sources. The Knicks have to make a roster move in mid-November when Joakim Noah returns from suspension. Kuzminskas has one year left on his pact at $3.8 million"
And Ian Begley of ESPN.com also reported that the Knicks were inquiring around the NBA for potential Kuzminskas' deals.
Kuzminskas, 28, averaged 6.3 points and shot 32.1 percent from beyond the arc in 14.9 minutes per game last season. It's hard to imagine he'd crack L.A.'s rotation, however, with players like Randle, Kuzma, Ingram and Nance (when he returns from injury) all likely to get major minutes at the two forward spots.
Add in Corey Brewer and Luol Deng (more on him below), and the Lakers don't exactly have a major need for Kuzminskas. Perhaps they still have interest, but Kuzma's emergence alone makes it hard to imagine them making a move for Kuzminskas without also getting rid of another forward or two from their current roster.
The theme of "playing time" continues. Namely, Deng isn't getting much of it, similar to Kuzminskas. And Deng, like Kuzminskas, wants out, as he told Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com:
"It definitely hurts. But the only answer for me now is to prove myself away from L.A. I'm not asked to play, I'm not in the rotation, so I can't prove myself here.
"Most of these young guys don't understand the business of basketball, so if I come in here and I'm angry every day, I'm taking something away from them. I have to be smiling, I have to be in the best mood I can be in, because they're living their dream of being an NBA player."
And Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times reported that Deng requested a trade or buyout after training camp concluded.
Deng is a byproduct of L.A.'s rebuild-gone-wrong in the final years of the Jim Buss-Mitch Kupchak partnership, signing a four-year, $72-million deal in the summer of 2016. The Lakers now likely need to free themselves from that contract if they hope to be major players in free agency, similarly to how they freed themselves from the four-year, $64 million they signed Timofey Mozgov that same summer.
Trading that contract may be more difficult than, say, moving a player like Randle. Regardless, it's hard to imagine Deng finishing the season with the Lakers.