Making Sense of the Rumors: Bogdan Bogdanovic to the Lakers
Bogdan Bogdanovic has been coming up in trade rumors as of late, particularly linked with the Los Angeles Lakers. He would be an amazing fit next to LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and company, but it’s unclear how the Sacramento Kings would benefit from letting him go.
Bogdan Bogdanovic to the Lakers Early Rumors
ESPN journalist Brian Windhorst was one of the first people with a national platform to bring up the idea of Bogdonavic on the Lakers. Several weeks later, Sam Amick and Marc Stein have reported differing scoops about a Bogdonavic for Kyle Kuzma trade with the Lakers.
Sacramento is among the teams that has tried to engage the Lakers in Kyle Kuzma trade talks, league sources say. The Kings know they would have to include sharpshooter (and soon-to-be restricted free agent) Bogdan Bogdanovic, for starters, in a Kuzma deal
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) January 6, 2020
Re: @TheSteinLine’s intel about possible Kuzma-for-Bogdanovic swap, I’m told Kings are unlikely to be interested straight up. They value his versatility, are comfortable w/ his restricted free agency & are 0-6 w/out him. https://t.co/TLJqACY03F
— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) January 6, 2020
What Bogdanovic Brings
The talented Serbian’s combination of shot-creation, three-point shooting, and playmaking would instantly plug some holes that the Lakers have been trying to seal since the season began. One of his biggest contributions would be providing sorely needed secondary playmaker duties next to LeBron James. The Lakers offense can be high octane, but it often looks stagnant when defenses know LeBron is always the main one facilitating from the post or the top of the arc. The Lakers would still need prospective a point guard like Darren Collison to handle the pick and roll workload, but Bogdanovic’s versatility would be a step in the right direction.
One of the biggest hurdles would be making the salaries match between Bogdanovic ($8.5 million) and Kuzma ($1.97 million). The Lakers would need to include a salary such as that of Avery Bradley ($4.76 million) to bring the number closer. Or they can include a larger contract like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($8.09 million) to add another piece in the Kings’ offer. One problem that Caldwell-Pope would pose is his no-trade clause. Still, his hot play as of late has undoubtedly made him look like a much more attractive asset.
Kyle Kuzma’s Stumbled Start
Kyle Kuzma has had a rocky year with the purple and gold compared to past campaigns. His scoring is down to 11.8 points per game after averaging 18.7 points per game last season. This can be partly attributed to a significant minute reduction (23.5 per game this year compared to 33.1 per game last year), but the good old eye test reveals Kuzma is still figuring how to be most effective in different lineups.
Another part of his struggles comes from missing training camp and the preseason. That took away a crucial opportunity to gel with his new teammates. He’s figuring out the team’s on-court dynamic and his place in it on the fly. Based on what we’ve seen in his young career, he could fill out a Lou Williams-type role as a gunner off the bench. He needs to go a long way in terms of consistency before he reaches that point though, and the Lakers are short on time.
How Can Kuzma Bounce Back?
He’s often at his best when he’s active defensively, fighting for rebounds, and looking for his own shot as the top scoring threat in the five-man unit. These moments often come when James and Davis are on the bench, or not demanding the offense run through them. The problem is, those moments are hard to come by.
Still, Kuzma is only in his third season at 24 years old. When one looks at what Kuzma brings today, his potential, the unbelievably cheap number he takes up on the cap sheet, and the fact that he’s still under contract for one and a half more seasons, he’s still one of the best bargains in the league. The question is, should the Lakers wait around while they have a championship window right now? If the deal is for Bogdan Bogdanovic, then no.
Why Would the Kings Want to Do This?
If the Sacramento Kings truly are interested, they must know that they don’t have a future with Bogdan Bogdanovic, or they see a vast new field of potential in Kuzma. No signs currently point toward the Kings holding any of these inclinations, which leads one to wonder how this rumor started. It sounds like the Lakers sent a beacon out saying Kyle Kuzma was available, to which the Kings inquired. Now the Lakers want a player of Bogdanovic’s caliber in return.
Bogdanovic is the better overall player right now compared to Kuzma; his skills as a secondary creator, reliable shooter, and a better defender set him apart. Kuzma has the potential to be a better overall scorer down the line, but Bogdanovic is equipped to be a more complete player. He’s a better fit on this Kings unit than Kuzma, and a better fit on most other rosters league-wide.
Is Bogdanovic to the Lakers a Realistic Scenario?
When one considers all these factors, it doesn’t make a Bogdanovic for Kuzma trade likely to happen. If the Lakers managed to bring a third team into the deal, then maybe they could muster up another enticing piece to send with Kuzma.
Bogdanovic is a restricted free agent this summer. This means that Sacramento will have to match offers presented to the Serbian in the off-season. He should be a pretty in-demand client though thanks to a weak free-agent class and his versatile skill set. Until the NBA world hears otherwise on the King’s interest to retain Bogdonavic, one can assume that both sides are still content with each other.
The NBA trade deadline is still one whole month away. This Bogdan Bogdanovic to the Lakers story feels like the first big rumor bomb of the season. Keep in mind, the trade deadline may not be explosive as last year’s action-packed one. Regardless, the scene will evolve exponentially as the hysteria rises in the leadup to February 5th.