Bold NBA trade rumors are emerging ahead of the upcoming February 23 deadline, and the Los Angeles Lakers are a team constantly being discussed. There have been reports over the months that the Lakers are holding onto several key members of their young roster, but there are a few players whom they can part ways with. Among those players are former NBA All-Star Luol Deng, who has shown his ability to contribute in previous seasons. Could L.A. possibly swap the veteran with the Sacramento Kings to bring scorer Rudy Gay into the mix?
Just last month, Lakers trade rumors were laid to rest with regards to three of the team’s possible future stars. There are plenty of teams in the league who might like to add young players with potential like Brandon Ingram, D’Angelo Russell, or Julius Randle to their squads. However, the Lakers franchise seems steadfast in the notion that they won’t be giving those three players up any time soon. Things could always change, but a deal involving a longtime veteran on the team is one that certainly could happen within the coming week.
Recently, Bleacher Report gave speculation from their staff on some potential trades before the deadline. Among those, writer Grant Hughes suggests a bold prediction that the Lakers and Kings will make a multi-player swap with Deng and Gay as the key assets in that exchange. In the proposed deal, Deng would be sent to the Kings for Rudy Gay, Ben McLemore, and their two second-round picks. By sending Deng away, Los Angeles gets the key benefit of freeing up $18 million of salary. They’d also receive a top-notch scorer in Rudy Gay and a potential emerging young star in Ben McLemore.
McLemore is in his third year out of Kansas and averaging career numbers of 9.2 points, 1.2 assists, and 2.5 rebounds, per Basketball Reference stats. Expectations were certainly higher for this prospect as the No. 7 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, so it’s possibly time for the team to move on from keeping him as part of their impending rebuild project based around DeMarcus Cousins. He may not even stick around with the Lakers either, but their main goal is to improve the roster, and freeing up Deng’s salary space while bringing in another scorer for next season seems smart.
For months it’s looked like it may be time for the Kings to move on from Rudy Gay. Since entering the league, he has bounced amongst several teams during his NBA career and has been able to contribute. Gay’s played for Toronto, Memphis, and Sacramento so far in his career. Gay has spent 10 years in the league and averages 18.4 points, 2.3 assists and about six boards per game. Those are numbers plenty of teams can use, including the Lakers who are most likely looking towards finally cracking into the playoff picture next season. At 19-37, they seem destined for another absence from the postseason, and a spot in the 2017 NBA Draft’s top order on the board.
The red flag with Gay right now is that he’s recovering from an Achilles injury and out for the remainder of this season. However, he had successful surgery last month according to CBS Sports and will be back for the 2017-18 NBA season. So basically, if this deal occurs it would have the Lakers ready for a fresh start for next season with a veteran scorer to join forces with Ingram, Randle, Russell, and the rest of the roster.
For the Kings, they certainly aren’t done for their season regarding possibly making the playoffs. As of right now, their record of 23-32 has them sitting just a few games behind Denver for the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference. Deng could at least provide some help off the bench, as the 12th year player from Duke is putting up about eight points and grabbing over five rebounds a game for the 2016-17 season.
The numbers are a slight improvement over McLemore, and Deng has shown he’s able to contribute in all sorts of ways on the court. He was a key component of the Chicago Bulls roster for many seasons, where he became an NBA All-Star. Deng is also on the downhill slope of his career, though. As the speculation from Bleacher Report notes, this is a bold prediction, and a true “head-scratcher” but would make sense for the short term goal of the team to win.
With the NBA trade deadline on next Thursday, will this sort of big trade actually go through, or will all of the aforementioned players stay put? It should be interesting to see which teams make moves, as the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings are two franchises from California driving plenty of speculation during the recent season.
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