If there is one thing that the Los Angeles Lakers are better at than any other team in the league it is finding hidden gems and developing them into legitimate rotation players. The likes of Alex Caruso and Austin Reaves have been developed from nothing in LA, while guys like Malik Monk, Lonnie Walker IV, and Cam Reddish have salvaged their careers in LA.
The biggest focus for the front office right now is maximizing the already-talented roster to go on an NBA Championship run. As a result, fans may see the Lakers be active at the trade deadline. If there is a trade that makes sense and improves the roster, Rob Pelinka will not hesitate to pull the trigger.
Pelinka and the front office should also keep an eye on the players who are available in free agency. The buyout market hasn't quite solidified but there is now another potential hidden gem for the Lakers to get their hands on to develop.
The Lakers may be able to develop Kenneth Lofton Jr. into a solid role player
According to Damichael Cole of Commercial Appeal, Lofton is being waived by the Grizzlies as Ja Morant is set to return on Thursday from his 25-game suspension. Memphis needed to make a roster spot and with Bismack Biyombo getting playing time over Lofton, the young big man became the fall guy.
Lofton probably is not in a place to get minutes in the rotation on a title-contending team. However, he could still provide depth with the Lakers consistently running into a laundry list of injuries. Signing Lofton to a non-guaranteed contract to see what he has would not be the worst idea in the world.
If the Lakers wanted to move off of one of the current two-way contract players they could do that as well. Alex Fudge doesn't seem like someone who has a long-term future in LA and Lofton has more potential. That or the team could elevate either D'Moi Hodge or Colin Castleton, opening a spot for Lofton.
Lofton proved in the G League before being awarded an NBA roster spot last season that there is more than meets the eye to his game. The 21-year-old was named the G League Rookie of the Year last season after he averaged 20.2 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. In 13 games in the Showcase Cup he averaged 25.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. You don't average those numbers on accident.
Lofton is not someone who is going to make a huge difference on this year's team. He is not a missing piece of the title contention puzzle. But he is a very young player with a lot of potential to tap into. If there is one team that can tap into that potential, it is the Lakers.