Lakers Rumors: Latest on Kawhi Leonard Trade, Lonzo-Kuzma Jabs, Zhaire Smith

San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard, right, drives past Los Angeles Lakers' Brandon Ingram during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

While it may seem like the Los Angeles Lakers always have their hopes, there are reasons to think this could be a monumental offseason for the franchise.

The puzzle pieces are seemingly all in place to beef up this roster in a big way. The purple-and-gold possess ample cap space, intriguing trade chips and a first-round NBA draft pick, or perhaps the necessary tools to plot this team’s first post-Kobe Bryant path to title contention.

Granted, a lot needs to go right for that happen, but the optimism is palpable and far from unfounded.

Given this summer’s stakes, it’s little surprise the rumor mill is rife with Lakers’ buzz. Let’s break down the latest.

               

Lakers Seeking Kawhi Trade

SAN ANTONIO, TX - JANUARY 12: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs handles the ball against the Los Angeles Lakers on January 12, 2017 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading

Mark Sobhani/Getty Images

Kawhi Leonard is 26 years old and in possession of a career resume featuring an NBA Finals MVP, a pair of Defensive Player of the Year awards and a scoring average of 25.5 points per game from his last healthy season.

He’d be a logical trade target for anyone.

But he should especially pique the Lakers’ interest. The L.A. native would not only give the club a needed centerpiece, his arrival should make it immensely more attractive to other elite targets.

If he’s made available in a trade, the Lakers want in on the bidding, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

For now, though, that’s a massive if.

Wojnarowski reports the Spurs “remain resistant to trades.” That should be expected, since Leonard’s appeal to the Lakers is no different than it is to his current club.

That said, the situation certainly bears monitoring.

Leonard, who can opt out of his contract next summer, just completed an injury-riddled, high-tension season. He’s expected to set a meeting with Spurs skipper Gregg Popovich “sooner than later,” per Wojnarowski, with those talks perhaps determining Leonard’s availability.

               

Lonzo, Kuzma Asked To Tone It Down

EL SEGUNDO, CA - FEBRUARY 12: Kyle Kuzma #0 and Lonzo Ball #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers talk during an all access practice on February 12, 2018 at UCLA Heath Training Center in El Segundo, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees t

Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

The ongoing social-media roasting between Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball may have reached a fever pitch.

Kuzma recently clowned Ball while collecting Bleacher Report’s “Player Hater of the Year” award. Ball responded with a diss track titled, “Kylie Kuzma.”

Kuzma naturally fired back through his preferred medium:

While the good-natured ribbing seems nothing more than two friends having fun, the Lakers have reportedly intervened nonetheless.

The organization has talked to both players about backing off of their public barbs, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Ohm Youngmisuk.

“Though Kuzma and Ball are close friends, the Lakers had grown concerned about the increasingly persoal nature of some of the recent roasting between two of their young stars, sources told ESPN,” the pair reported.

                   

Lakers “Super Infatuated” With Draft Prospect

Ray Thompson/Associated Press

Zhaire Smith spent the past year skyrocketing his draft stock due to elite athleticism, swarming defensive effort and offensive potential.

The Lakers not only noticed Smith’s ascension, they’ve reportedly developed an infatuation, sources told HoopsHype’s Bryan Kalbrosky:

The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor also recently said Smith “is the name that I’ve heard that [the Lakers] are very high on.”

Getting Smith could be a challenge, though. The Lakers’ lone first-rounder in next week’s draft is the 25th selection, while Smith is projected to come off the board well before that.

Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman has Smith going 15th in his most recent mock. ESPN’s Jonathan Givony has Smith slotted at 16th.

But that doesn’t mean L.A. is entirely out of the running.

O’Connor reported hearing the Lakers are either attempting to add a mid-first-rounder or move up from 25. And the Athletic’s Michael Scotto recently identified the Denver Nuggets (14th pick), Washington Wizards (15th) and Milwaukee Bucks (17th) as “teams in win-now mode that could dangle their picks as trade bait.”

NBA News

via Bleacher Report – NBA https://ift.tt/2gMI6gF

June 14, 2018 at 08:10AM

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