The rumor mill will only heat up as the Lakers near Thursday’s NBA draft and July’s free-agent period.
On Sunday, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated tweeted that the Lakers could be a free agent destination for Dwyane Wade, a three-time NBA champion with the Miami Heat.
“While many execs see Wade/Heat as contract saber rattling, a Wade option will be the Lakers. Mutual interest, per league sources,” wrote Mannix. “Hard to see LA offering Wade a better chance to win than Miami, especially in the West. But it is LA, and they do have money to burn.”
Before July, Wade can opt out of his contract for next season ($16.1 million) to become an unrestricted free agent.
The Lakers project to have roughly $22 million in spending power, if the team chooses not to pick up the $9-million option on Jordan Hill’s contract.
Wade might not be the Lakers’ top choice, given that he’s 33, but then he probably shouldn’t be written off entirely if his contract situation doesn’t resolve with a new deal in Miami.
Another rumor surfaced Monday when ESPN said the Lakers “have emerged as one of the most determined trade suitors for Sacramento Kings All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins.”
Cousins earned $14.7 million for the 2014-15 season and has three years and $50.9 million left on his contract.
The article details an “exploratory” dialog on a three-way trade that could send Nikola Vucevic to the Kings from the Orlando Magic.
Former Lakers center Vlade Divac recently was named the Kings’ vice president of basketball and franchise operations. To trade their 24-year-old center, he would have to convince team owner Vivek Ranadive, who is believed to be fond of Cousins.
Divac recently told the Sacramento Bee that a Cousins trade “is not happening.”
While that may be true, NBA executives have been known to fib and/or stretch the truth around this time of year (as well as near the February trade deadline).
Joe Kotoch of Sheridan Hoops tweeted his take on the Cousins rumor, offering confirmation that “the Lakers are speaking with the Kings and Magic about a 3 team deal for the 2nd pick, Cousins, etc.”
The Lakers hold the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, along with Nos. 27 and 34. The Kings own the sixth pick, and the Magic has the fifth overall selection.
“Still in talks but initially sounds like Kings get 5 pick, [Nikola] Vucevic, & other picks, Magic get 2nd pick & take [Jahlil] Okafor, Lakers get Cousins & 6,” wrote Kotoch.
Kotoch followed up with a note that the Lakers like Texas center Myles Turner at No. 6, if the theoretical deal was executed.
From a salary cap perspective, the Lakers would be able to make such a deal legal if they opted in on Hill’s contract and sent him to the Magic (probably with center Robert Sacre, whose $915,243 deal will become guaranteed if he is not waived before July).
Vucevic has a complicated contract; he earned $2.8 million this season and starts a four-year, $48-million extension this July. But the Magic has enough cap space ($8.2 million) to overcome the “poison pill” nature of the young center’s contract.
Because the Lakers owe a first-rounder to the Philadelphia 76ers in 2016 (top-three protected), they must have a first-round pick this Thursday, be it two, six or 27.
All this should be taken in with a sizable grain of salt as most NBA rumors rarely come to pass.