After their genuinely shocking signing of Sixth Man of the Year and former Clippers striker Montrezl Harrell, it would have been reasonable to assume the Lakers had finished spraying in NBA-free agency. But according to recent rumors of Lakers trading, general manager Rob Pelinka is not done trying to set off fireworks.
In the middle of the night, Kevin O’Connor from The Ringer confirmed previous reports that the Lakers are actually going after the Sacramento Kings restricting free agent Bogdan Bogdanovic and that they are exploring potential sign-and-trades to do so:
In January, I reported that the Lakers had trade talks with the Kings, who offered Nemanja Bjelica and an election to the Lakers for Kyle Kuzma, and Los Angeles countered by asking for Bogdan Bogdanovic. LA̵7;s persecution has not stopped. On Friday, Athletics‘s Sam Amick and Eric Nehm reported that the Lakers are pursuing a sign-and-trade deal for Bogdanovic, whose sign-and-trade deal with the Bucks fell apart. League sources confirmed the report: The Lakers are actually pursuing Bogdanovic, even though the Hawks are considered favorites.
The Kings might not have wanted to trade Bogdanovic for the Lakers before the deadline, but now they do not have much choice. The alternative is to lose him to the Hawks (or another team with capacity like the Knicks), to an offer sheet that is more than they would like to use, several league sources say. Of course Kings could match any offer sheet he receives. But they just drafted a guard in Tyrese Haliburton, gave $ 163 million to De’Aaron Fox and still have a disgruntled Buddy Hield. Maybe, just maybe, the kings would be better off taking KCP and Kuzma, even if it means helping their intergovernmental rivals get better.
Now, as with all leaks, there may be a motivation behind this. The Lakers have long been used as a bogeyman around the league, and this could be an attempt to send a shot over the Hawks’ bow to get them to really pony on an offer sheet to Bogdanovic to prevent him from trying to get to the Lakers. (It is also worth noting that there have already been reports that Bogdanovic is expected to sign an offer sheet with the Hawks, but nothing super concrete yet).
But the Lakers’ interest in Bogdanovic is also clearly very real at this point, and after Pelinka and Co. shocked the world (and reportedly the Clippers) by getting Harrell on the mid-level exception, we really can not rule them out for any free agent – even limited ones like Bogdanovic – until they put pen to paper. That is doubly the case in Bogdanovic’s situation, because at this point we should not think that he is really going anywhere until he actually does.
And as my colleague Christian Rivas noted, there are reasons to believe the Lakers could top the sign-and-trade offer that Kings had previously agreed with the Bucks because of how much their coach loves Kyle Kuzma:
It’s no secret that Kuzma had his best years under Luke Walton, who is currently the Kings’ head coach. It is also no secret that they have mutual respect for each other. Kuzma was one of the first players to thank Walton when the Lakers parted ways with him last year.
In addition, we have an idea of what type of package Kings would accept for Bogdanovic. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Bucks planned to send Donte DiVincenzo, Ersan Ilyasova and DJ Wilson to the Kings in exchange for Bogdanovic. Is a package with Kuzma and JaVale McGee much worse than that? And if so, could they expand it to a sign-and-trade that includes Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Nemanja Bjelica? Is it possible.
Would Bogdanovic be a final upgrade of Caldwell-Pope given what the Lakers need? He would probably be a downgrade defensively, but he has a reputation for being a better shooter – although he shot worse than three (37.2%) than Caldwell-Pope (38.5%) last season – which would follow the pattern (together with Harrell and Dennis Schröder) from the Lakers wanting to upgrade their offense on paper this offseason.
With Dennis Schroder (18.9) and Montrezl Harrell (18.6), the Lakers have the two best bench scorers from last season. Per Elias, Lakers is the 2nd team to have the top 2 goal scorer from last season. ’01 -02 The Suns had Rodney Rogers and Tony Delk. Starters were first tracked in 1970-71.
– Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) November 21, 2020
This is perhaps not just about choosing between Caldwell-Pope and Bogdanovic, nor given the way negotiations with the former are going on right now:
Sources: Both the Lakers and free agent guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are interested in getting a deal done, but it’s now a talking point. KCP is looking for a raise from the $ 8.4 million he opted out of.
– Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) November 21, 2020
The Lakers need to make sure to strengthen their guard depth, and if Caldwell-Pope wants a payday and Bogdanovic just wants to be a Laker, it may not be the right choice and the Lakers may just need to get the guy who wants to be here.
Maybe Caldwell-Pope will come back, and maybe not, but until something is agreed, the Lakers will have to explore all of their options. The good news is, by sniffing around Bogdanovic, they seem to be doing just that. Such due diligence and coming up with alternative plans is all anyone who hopes the team can reconsider for a repeat can ask for.
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