Money makes this pairing difficult, but there’s one way in which both the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers can improve positions of need.
The new-look Los Angeles Lakers haven’t been particularly kind to their younger players, but it’s ultimately made a ton of sense to operate the way they have. After years of rebuilding, reshaping and retooling, the Lakers are back in the top spot in the Western Conference. This has coincided with the San Antonio Spurs falling out of the playoffs for the first time this millennium.
Financially, it’s very difficult to find a deal that works out for both the Spurs and the Lakers, which has put me in a pretty difficult situation. Quite frankly, San Antonio wouldn’t want to deal with Los Angeles anyway if history is any indicator, but we’re talking about hypotheticals here!
The Lakers sold off every substantial young player on their roster except for two: Third-year forward Kyle Kuzma and fan-favorite Alex Caruso. With the Spurs lacking in frontcourt depth and the Lakers lacking in the backcourt, the only deal that would make sense for both sides is a swap of prospects from the 2017 NBA Draft class. I’m going to warn you, most of you probably aren’t going to like this one, but it’s the only thing that could possibly make sense for both parties as the Lakers don’t have any veterans who make sense for the Spurs.
In exchange for Kyle Kuzma and the Los Angeles Lakers’ 2020 first-round pick, the San Antonio Spurs part ways with Derrick White.
Personally, I don’t anticipate the Spurs having problems locking combo guard Derrick White into a contract extension when he becomes eligible this offseason; but that’s not to say it’s not possible. If things turn south in their negotiations and White’s outlook in San Antonio becomes uncertain, the Spurs will need to look at trade offers. That’s the only reason for them to look at this trade.
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Los Angeles needs depth at the point guard spot and White can play off of LeBron James pretty nicely as a guard who doesn’t need the ball in his hands to succeed. For the Spurs, Kuzma is a secondary ball-handler who has shown major scoring upside from the four-spot. He’s a bit of a polarizing player who gets the short end of the stick in the LeBron/AD-led Lakers, but under the right guidance, Kuzma could become an All-Star later in his career.
In a system that disguises his weaknesses, Kuzma could learn to become a multi-positional team-defender after maturing in the silver and black. Every young player that has left the Lakers has gotten better: D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr., Jordan Clarkson and the list goes on. There’s a proven history of this, and I have a hard time believing that Kuzma couldn’t be a much better version of himself in San Antonio.
To compensate for giving up the better player, the Spurs would receive what’s expected to be the 29th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Experts and analysts don’t believe in the star power of this draft class, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some hidden gems.
The Spurs have a history of doing great things with that No. 29 pick. After all, it’s the one that they used to get White in the first place.
That wraps up the Pacific Division! We’ll stick in the Western Conference and begin diving into the Northwest Division tomorrow. Check out the other pieces in this series by clicking on the name of the team you’re interested in: Golden State Warriors, LA Clippers, Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns.