With the NBA trade deadline approaching on March 25, the Los Angeles Lakers continue to look for ways to upgrade their roster in hopes of defending their 17th championship in franchise history.
The Lakers find themselves in a solid position entering the All-Star break, currently fourth in the vaunted Western Conference, considering how they’ve played in games without Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder lately.
However, their roster still contains holes and the team will conduct some due diligence in hopes of acquiring possible upgrades to boost their title chances come playoff time, and making a trade could help them accomplish that.
The Rockets have a veteran player who has the intrigue of many of the league’s contenders: Forward PJ Tucker. The Nets, Bucks, Heat, Nuggets and Lakers are expressing interest in Tucker, sources said. Multiple teams have sensed a deal could develop sooner rather than later for Tucker, but the timing is likely dependent on the Rockets’ asking price. As of now, Houston has sought a young player back in a trade, sources said.
If the Lakers hope to acquire Tucker’s skillset, doing so will require them to part ways with one of their younger players who hold significant value in the eyes of another team.
Forward Kyle Kuzma agreed to a three-year extension earlier this season, but with the 25-year-old playing like a more poised player on both ends of the floor, the Rockets could seek to extract him from L.A.
The Lakers are short on quality young players, but 20-year-old combo guard Talen Horton-Tucker could be a prize. The 6’4″ Horton-Tucker emerged in L.A. during the 2020-21 NBA preseason, illuminating his ability to attack the rim and score in bunches, with a 3-point shot still in progress.
Los Angeles will need to make tough decisions on how they value current pieces on their roster, which can often be the case when trying to defend a championship.
Rival executives believe Lakers could target multiple centers
The Lakers are currently devoid of big men without Davis and Marc Gasol, who is out because of health and safety protocols. Even though they should return after the All-Star break, they lack a lob threat who can pull gravity on pick-and-rolls and score consistently from the dunker spot.
Teams around the league believe the Lakers could pursue big men such as Andre Drummond and JaVale McGee if they are bought out. Sacramento Kings center Hassan Whiteside could also be an option to help protect the paint.
While Damian Jones has looked solid in his minutes during his 10-day contract, he’s more of a project player. The Lakers seem to be looking for established talent, and those three big men fit the bill if they dawn the purple and gold later this season.
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