The Los Angeles Lakers’ top priority for next season is a proven point guard who can fill their need for a second playmaker to backup LeBron James and a third shotmaker to complement the scoring of superstars James and Davis.
There have been numerous veteran point guards discussed as potential solutions for the Lakers, including Goran Dragic, Derrick Rose, Mike Conley, Jeff Teague, and Darren Collison, but these are all short-term solutions. Frankly, with Kyle Kuzma and their 2020 first round draft pick as their only viable trading chips, the Lakers would be smart to focus on acquiring a proven younger point guard who could grow and develop with the team.
With the Lakers in a win-now situation, they need a point guard who’s shown he can create shots for himself and teammates, which eliminates drafting a college player or opting for a young inexperienced point guard. With the China controversy and coronavirus pandemic reducing the salary cap and causing players to decline player options, the Lakers will also not be likely to fill their needs for a proven young point guard in free agency.
That leaves trading as the only option for the Lakers to acquire a qualified point guard. Between Kyle Kuzma, their 2020 first round draft pick, and $20 million in expiring contracts, they have more trade assets than last year. While that wouldn’t be enough to trade for an elite point guard like Damian Lillard or Jrue Holiday, it should be enough to find a young point guard who’s played a few years to prove his worth but still has untapped upside.
Ideally, the Lakers should target a point guard no older than twenty-six, who earns less than $20 million per year, averages at least 12.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game, and shoots better than 38% from deep. When you search NBA.com stats for players who fit these criteria, the search comes up with just four candidates: the Pelicans’ Lonzo Ball, Raptors’ Fred VanVleet, Hornets’ Terry Rozier, and Thunder’s Dennis Schroeder.
So let’s take a closer look at each of these four candidates to see how they would fit on the current Lakers’ roster, why their current team might be willing to trade them, and what the Lakers could offer to complete a trade:
1. Lonzo Ball
The Lakers trading to get Lonzo Ball back is a long shot but he would be an excellent fit for the Lakers roster, especially since he is younger, would cost less, and is a better playmaker and rebounder than the other candidates. While Lonzo’s improved his three-point shooting, he’s still a poor pick-and-roll facilitator and atrocious free throw shooter. With Jrue Holiday on the roster and Brandon Ingram in line to get paid, Lonzo could be expendable.
The Pelicans originally tried to get the Lakers to include Kyle Kuzma in the Anthony Davis trade so a package of Kyle Kuzma, JaVale McGee, and Quinn Cook could be tempting enough for the Pelicans to agree to trade Lonzo. While Ball would need to improve his pick-and-roll playmaking and free throw shooting, the trade could give the Lakers a 22-year old who could belatedly become the two-way star they envisioned when drafting him.
2. Fred VanVleet
Fred VanVleet would be a perfect fit on the Lakers and would fill their need for a second elite playmaker and third clutch shotmaker who’s proven his championship caliber ability and leadership at the highest possible level. With Lowry still playing at an elite level, Siakam in line for a big payday, and the team hoarding salary cap to pursue Giannis the summer of 2021, the Raptors may be unwilling to give Fred VanVleet the big raise he deserves.
The Lakers would likely need to give VanVleet $20 million per year and offer the Raptors a sign-and-trade package involving Kyle Kuzma, Danny Green, and Quinn Cook, plus their first round pick to trade for Fred. However, the 26-year old VanVleet would give the Lakers the playmaker they need when LeBron is not on the court and the proven third shotmaker they need to complement superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
3. Terry Rozier
Acquired by the Hornets in a sign-and-trade deal for Kemba Walker last summer, Terry Rozier is another talented young point guard who could fill the Lakers’ need for a proven second playmaker and consistent third scorer. With the Hornets in flux and rookie Devonte’ Graham taking over Kemba Walker’s starting point guard role, the 26-year old Rozier’s name continues to come up in trade rumors and he may not be in Charlotte’s future plans.
More of a shoot-first point guard who needs the ball in his hands to be effective, a package built around Kyle Kuzma, Danny Green, and Quinn Cook could be enough to convince the Hornets to trade Rozier to the Lakers. While he would not get the touches and shots he did with the Hornets, Terry has more elite offensive ability and upside to develop into a top tier NBA scorer than any of the four candidates and could be a great fit on the Lakers.
4. Dennis Schroeder
Of all four candidates, Dennis Schroeder may be the best option for the Lakers for an talented young point guard who could fill their playmaking and scoring requirements and be acquired via trade with available assets. With veteran point guard Chris Paul starting and star shooting guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander capable of playing the point, Schroeder could be available for trade and be the perfect target for the Lakers to pursue.
The Lakers would likely need to offer a package that includes Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Quinn Cook, plus their first round draft pick to interest the Thunder in trading point guard Dennis Schroeder to them. Just 26-years old, Schroeder could be the perfect point guard for the Lakers as he could run the offense when LeBron sits and become the consistent 20-points per game scorer to complement LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
While nobody knows yet if the season will be resumed or cancelled or if the Lakers will get the chance to win their seventeenth championship, they’ll still have an excellent opportunity to be an even better team next season. Trading for a talented young point guard like Lonzo Ball, Fred VanVleet, Terry Rozier, or Dennis Schroeder would make the Los Angeles Lakers even more formidable and should be their number one goal this offseason.
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