Per Kevin O’Connor [via The Ringer], there is reported interest from both the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Lakers in working out a deal that could send Kyle Kuzma and Danny Green to the San Antonio Spurs for DeMar DeRozan.
This trade would of course reunite Danny Green with Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs. Aside from the actual likelihood of both sides to pull the trigger on this deal, does it make sense for both sides?
From the Lakers side of the equation, Kyle Kuzma is a 25 year old forward who is still likely not quite in his prime but has also not shown drastic improvement throughout his three seasons with the Lakers. Kuzma is generally regarded as a high floor, low ceiling player after debuting in the NBA at the not so tender age of 22. Three years of collegiate play allowed Kuzma the opportunity to mature and add polish to his game. It also meant he entered the league having tapped into most of his potential already. We know who he is, a decent scorer who can serve as a third option on a well-coached team. He is not a defensive stalwart, but not exactly a defensive liability either. In short, he will serve a team well in the right situation, but he is not much of a needle mover.
Danny Green on the other hand is a shooting guard on the wrong side of 30, whose chief value is as a “3 and D” player. However, after having an excellent year with the Toronto Raptors, he saw his production dip with the Los Angeles Lakers. Though a bit past his prime with a reduced shooting acumen, Green is still a valuable role player capable of stretching the floor.
From the San Antonio Spurs side of the equation, DeMar DeRozan is a 31 year old wing primarily valued for his scoring. Though DeMar may be viewed as an outdated star due to his reliance on isolation plays and mid-range jumpers, he can still consistently boost any offense.
So, who benefits from this trade and how? The most obvious motivation on the end of the Los Angeles Lakers is that he will be a third option behind LeBron James and Anthony Davis, providing an additional scoring punch. The Spurs would reunite with Danny Green who fit well into Popovich’s system, and a young player in Kuzma whose abilities they may be able to maximize in a way that the Lakers could not.
Though this would be a somewhat even trade as far as NBA transactions go, there seems to be little practical benefit to the Lakers. What they gain in additional scoring, they likely give up and then some on the defensive end, as well as sacrificing a bit of depth. This is still to speak nothing of the fact that with LeBron and Davis, the Lakers are not really in dire need of additional scoring.
Any trades the Lakers make that fail to add additional three point shooting or perimeter defense is relatively pointless. This trade does just the opposite – DeRozan is an abysmal shooter from beyond the arc and certainly not known for his defense.
For the Spurs, this trade may make some sense. Danny Green provides additional shooting and perimeter defense as he did previously, and Kuzma is exactly the kind of talent that Popovich has proven that he is capable of grooming.
This trade possibility is still strongly in the rumor category but would seem to make little sense for the Lakers and even for the Spurs would not be too much of a value add. Do not expect this one to materialize.