The Los Angeles Lakers are seemingly in desperation mode at three games below .500 and no clear sign of when LeBron James might return to the lineup. In the meantime, they have resorted back to playing Kent Bazemore, who was completely out of the rotation after being a starter to begin the season.
So with all of these struggles, fans are clamoring for a trade deadline deal to drastically shift the fortunes of the Lakers this season. However, due to a lack of valuable assets, such a deal may not exist. Instead, they may have to focus on the margins via small trades and the buyout market.
And that’s exactly what they appear to be searching for. Reportedly, the Lakers may be looking to dump Bazemore’s veteran minimum contract and trying to land Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Millsap should he receive a buyout, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report:
The Lakers are searching to find Kent Bazemore a new home after he opened the season as a starter. And while it’s believed Paul Millsap would prefer to land in Chicago, having a connection to Bulls lead executive Arturas Karnisovas from their shared Denver days, Los Angeles has been mentioned as a suitor for Millsap should he reach the buyout market.
Dealing Bazemore to another team would be similar to the Rajon Rondo trade. As in, it would open up a roster spot and allow L.A. to sign another player without any increased luxury tax penalties. They would have to pay tax on Bazemore and a new player if they opted to waive the veteran guard instead of trading him.
Given that Bazemore has actually looked serviceable in the last few Lakers games, finding a taker shouldn’t be incredibly difficult. And depending on the team, the Lakers would hopefully not have to attach a second-round draft pick in order to do so.
As for the Millsap rumors, both the Chicago Bulls and Lakers would have great use for the veteran forward. Both are in need of power forwards or small-ball centers that can comfortably play on both ends of the court. And while it does appear that the Bulls have the edge, the Lakers are in the running.
Of course, none of that matters if the Nets can find a trade partner for Millsap in the week before the deadline. The two sides have been working together to find a trade partner for a few weeks, with no such luck to this point.
Malik Monk to stay a starter in the short-term
As long as the Lakers deal with injuries on the wings — as they currently are with James — Malik Monk figures to stick around in the starting lineup. That’s what Frank Vogel said after Monk scored 33 points against the Atlanta Hawks.
“He had 33 points as a starter last game, so I would say he’s going to be starting again and he picks up a big chunk of the scoring load with LeBron [James] out,” Vogel said.
“We use him in the second unit. That’s something that’s been a positive of ours… When a player is that hot, you got to maximize his usage. I would say he’s likely to stay in the starting lineup, yes.”
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