The Los Angeles Lakers would like to improve their struggling team before the February 10 trade deadline. Inconveniently, their two players with tradable contracts and on-court value—Talen Horton-Tucker and Kendrick Nunn—have each seen said value decline.
Horton-Tucker, 21, hasn’t shown much improvement since becoming the team’s fourth-highest paid player, resulting in a league-wide debate about his ceiling. Nunn, 26, is yet to debut for the Lakers due to a mysterious bone bruise in his left knee (he isn’t close).
The Lakers can group THT/Nunn with their 2027 or 2028 first-round pick. But as has been revealed amongst the scuttlebutt, they may not be able to land the quality of player (Jerami Grant, Myles Turner, Gary Trent Jr.) they desire for that package.
Instead of surrendering either the first-rounder or THT for a marginal upgrade around the edges—which would be poor asset management—the Lakers’ most optimal trade deadline strategy (as I surmised here) may be to open at least one roster spot for a buyout addition. Los Angeles currently has five prideful veterans largely out of the regular rotation: Kent Bazemore, DeAndre Jordan, Dwight Howard, Wayne Ellington, and Trevor Ariza.
According to the latest reporting from Bleacher Report’s NBA insider Jake Fischer, Bazemore could be the most likely of those vets to go elsewhere.
“The Lakers are searching to find Kent Bazemore a new home after he opened the season as a starter,” Fischer writes.
Bazemore, 32, started the first 13 games of the season and was expected to be a key two-way piece for the Lakers. Instead, he struggled mightily and fell out of the rotation. He got some run on the Lakers’ recent road trip—and played pretty well!—a development I’d expect to continue as the Lakers shop him. Despite his poor performance, it’s not impossible to imagine another team believing he could still make an impact.
Plus, as Frank Vogel articulated after shootaround on Wednesday—and has been visible to any regular consumers of Lakers games—Bazemore has been an ideal teammate and positive contributor, regardless of his role on game day.
Vogel said Kent Bazemore has been a "10 out of 10 with his attitude and his character…In light of a difficult circumstance…he's been a bright spot of our season with his character and his willingness to be active in the film sessions and honor the work."
— Michael Corvo (@michaelcorvoNBA) February 2, 2022
Los Angeles has been hoping to off-load Bazemore without attaching a second-round draft pick, as they did with Rajon Rondo. Bazemore is on a one-year, $2.4 million contract.