The Los Angeles Lakers are still the most mentioned club in the latest trade rumors as this year’s NBA trade deadline draws near. With a group composed mostly of young players that are considered by many as future NBA stars, it seems like the Lakers’ roster is becoming smaller and smaller to accommodate each one of them.
This is evident in the team’s current frontcourt logjam. The team has three young studs currently taking turns in playing the power forward spot, namely Kyle Kuzma, Julius Randle, and Larry Nance, Jr.
The Lakers are evidently leaning on the rookie Kuzma, as head coach Luke Walton was forced to relegate Randle, who had started 73 of the 74 games he played last season, to the bench because of the impressive showing of this year’s 27th overall pick. It has left Nance, who was the team’s starter at number four earlier in the season before he suffered a fractured left hand in November, as Walton’s third option.
Randle’s current contract status makes it all the more difficult for Walton, as the former Kentucky standout is set to become a restricted free agent this summer. Randle is expected to command a huge payday as his rookie deal expires, but the Lakers are reportedly “unwilling” to give it to him, a previous Inquisitr article reported.
What makes matters worse is that Nance will follow Randle in the restricted free-agency market in 2019. FanSided’s Lake Show Life said that it would be “really hard to see Randle and Nance both on the Lakers team in the future,” not only because they play the same position, but because both of them may demand the same type of salary.
Thus, recent trade rumors have mentioned Randle and Nance, including combo guard Jordan Clarkson, as the possible trade assets the Lakers could give up before next month’s deadline.
Meanwhile, the Portland Trail Blazers are reportedly trying to improve their roster in preparation for a deeper run in the playoffs.
In a 3-on-3 Blazers podcast, the panel of Jared Cowley, Orlando Sanchez, and Nathaniel Hanson talked about the potential trade scenarios Portland could be involved in soon.
One suggestion is to place 23-year-old big man Jusuf Nurkic on the trading block in order to “acquire draft picks or talented players whose age fits the core” of the Blazers’ roster.
Cowley said that the Blazers have no significant trade assets to get a big-name star, except if they include team leaders Damian Lillard or C.J. McCollum in any deal. The club is not expected to trade either Lillard or McCollum and so Cowley pointed out that exploring Nurkic’s market value could be beneficial to the squad.
In a separate report, Oregon Live’s Molly Blue suggested that the Blazers should trade Nurkic for Randle as the latter might be a better fit with rookie Zach Collins in Portland’s frontline. Blue said that Randle would be a “solid option” for head coach Terry Stotts during their postseason campaign.
The Blazers (22-19) are currently fifth in the West, four games behind the fourth-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves, and only a half-game ahead of the sixth-place Oklahoma City Thunder.