Lakers: There are only 2 Kyle Kuzma trade scenarios that make sense

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Los Angeles Lakers
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Trade Scenario #2

The Warriors are in last place in the Western Conference, making their season unofficially over. That means the Warriors don’t need to worry about the ramifications of sending out D’Angelo Russell, their best-uninjured player, to another squad.

This trade would hurt the Warriors in the short term, but it would help them next season because Golden State is one of the only squads in the NBA that doesn’t need an All-Star caliber point guard like D’Angelo Russell.

You don’t typically see NBA organizations swap an All-Star for a handful of role players. However, the Warriors already have incredible top-end guard talent with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. The Warriors need high-quality role players to help the Curry, Thompson, and Green engine run at full speed, which is why this deal makes sense.

If the Warriors pulled off this trade with the Lakers, they’d enter next season with a formidable starting lineup featuring Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Danny Green, Draymond Green, and Kevon Looney.  Avery Bradley, Kyle Kuzma, and Willie Cauley-Stein would then anchor the bench.

That’s a top-4 seed in the western conference.

D’Angelo Russell has dogged it on defense this year, but can you blame him? The Warriors have suffered so many injuries that they’re essentially a G League squad.

Don’t be fooled into thinking Jrue Holiday is a better two-way player than D’Angelo Russell. Russell might look like a meandering middle-aged man when he’s on the basketball court. But he’s got quicker feet than you think, plus at 6’4″ inches he has the height to crowd and bother his assignment on the perimeter, a trait that Frank Vogel looks for in his point guards.

Last season D’Angelo finished 71st in defensive rating out of 171 qualified guards. That’s not bad considering he exerted a tremendous amount of energy during each contest as Brooklyn’s number one option on offense.

On offense, D’Angelo Russell is a real difference-maker. He can manufacture his own shot out of the pick and roll, through isolation sets, and by hitting off-the-dribble 3-pointers.

If Rob Pelinka found a way to insert D’Angelo into the starting lineup, the Lakers would be impossible to stop on offense. The Lakers would have two top-tier passers in LBJ, and Russell, plus LA would have three players who are impossible to stop with just one defender. The best option for opposing squads would be to give up a wide-open 3-pointer from D’Angelo or allow JaVale McGee a clear path to the rim out of pick and roll sets. The Lakers would morph into the ultimate pick your poison team.

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Perhaps the losses of Danny Green and Avery Bradley would slide the Lakers from the top defense in the league to fifth best, but the gains on offense the Purple and Gold would make with Russell on the squad would far outweigh the slight step backward on the less glamorous side of the ball.