The Los Angeles Lakers have a lot of work to do this summer as they gear up for one of the biggest summers in the franchise’s history. They took an impressive step forward last year and now will look to further on the rebuilding process by trying to sign a star free agent or two. They have the cap space and roster flexibility to do so.
But they also have the assets to go out and acquire a star if a particular team is willing to sell-off that specific individual. They have guys like Josh Hart, Julius Randle (if he is brought back), Ivica Zubac, etc. but the primary targets would be players from their ‘Core 3’: Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and Lonzo Ball.
Brandon Ingram would be the number one player teams would ask the Lakers for because of his status as a 20-year-old blue-chip NBA prospect. Then Kyle Kuzma would probably be the next guy teams would want. But the Lakers should not move either of them for any reason.
But, a package with quantity surrounding Ball might be enticing enough for a team to take on. Grouping him up with this year’s 25th pick, Josh Hart, and Julius Randle (in a sign-and-trade) would be a robust package depending on the contract situation of the targetted player.
Or if the team, such the Toronto Raptors or Portland Trailblazers, wants to blow things up because they have plateaued in the playoffs and do not have the requisite pieces to make deep playoff runs. Moving DeMar DeRozan or Damian Lillard to bring in fresh and talented youth might be the best way to go.
But that is a lot of ‘ifs’ to consider. And you have to wonder if Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson are willing to move on from their top pick from 2017 so soon. Whether they are or not is one story, But there is no doubt that he should be the first to go from the team’s best prospect pool if the front office were to tap into their ‘Core 3.’
While the Lakers should hold onto him, they should not be afraid or reluctant to move him as they should be with Kuzma or Ingram. He does not have as high of a ceiling and does carry the baggage of his father. He was injury-prone last year, struggled mightily with his jump shot, and did not outplay the noise that LaVar Ball created.
That is still no reason to give up on him because the chances are that he is going to become an excellent point guard. Brandon Ingram showed that you should not give up on a player because of his rookie year.
But Zo was virtually ineffective without the ball, and when you have talents such as Ingram and Kuzma that need the ball in their hands at times, some of Ball’s value may decrease. But there is also the fact that he is only 20 and showed enough flashes to prove that he can potentially be a franchise point guard. And that might be all a team needs for a trade package to be built around.
And losing Ball would not hurt as much as losing Ingram or Kuzma would. And when you recognize that Ingram can run the point along with playing the best basketball of his life running the offense in Lonzo’s absence, Zo becomes that much more expendable.
And moving Ingram to the point opens up a much-needed spot on the wing for a Paul George or LeBron James. A lineup featuring Ingram, George, James, and Kuzma, and whoever the Lakers land with shipping out Lonzo Ball would be long, athletic, and explosive.
Remember though; this is only if Los Angeles is looking to make a move. They should not be reluctant to trade Lonzo Ball. He is not the talent that Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram are. And just because they invested the number two pick in him does not mean you should feel obligated to hold onto him. Ideally, you keep him. but if you can get value for him, do what you can.