The Los Angeles Lakers nearly traded for Buddy Hield in the moments leading up to the 2021 NBA Draft. The Sacramento Kings were convinced that the deal was done. And then, at the last second, the Washington Wizards nudged their way into the proceedings and sent the Lakers Russell Westbrook in exchange for, among other things, the assets originally earmarked for Hield. That squashed the deal, but according to Yahoo’s Chris Haynes, it hasn’t killed the Lakers’ interest in Hield.
Haynes reported on his podcast on Friday that the Lakers have reached out to the Kings about a package led by Talen Horton-Tucker in exchange for Hield. However, the Kings have rebuffed the Lakers and believe they can get a better offer for Hield, according to Haynes.
The Lakers would need to add much more than Horton-Tucker just to match Hield’s salary. To get there, they’d need to include Kendrick Nunn, making $5 million, and at least two of their veteran’s minimum salaries. The Lakers have reportedly been looking to offload DeAndre Jordan and/or Kent Bazemore for the sake of roster flexibility, but neither would offer much value to the Kings and even if Nunn was healthy, Sacramento doesn’t need another ball-handling guard. To entice the Kings, the Lakers would likely have to offer meaningful draft capital.
They can trade either their 2027 or 2028 first-round pick at the deadline. They can also offer swap rights on the pick among those two that they don’t trade as well as swap rights on their 2026 and 2023 first-round picks. Their 2022 pick is owed to either Memphis or New Orleans, and the Pelicans control their 2024 pick but have the right to defer it until 2025. The Lakers have their own second-round picks to offer in 2023, 2025, 2027 and 2028, as well as a few others accumulated from deals with other teams over the years.
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Sacramento’s disinterest in Horton-Tucker is justifiable given his poor performance this season, but the move would at least save the Kings a fair bit of money. Hield is owed roughly $39 million over the next two seasons. Horton-Tucker is owed closer to $21 million in that span, though he has a player option on the final year of that deal. Those savings aren’t insignificant but likely aren’t enough on their own to sway a Kings team that is trying to make the play-in round and end its dubious 16-year run in the lottery. Hield may be shooting a career-low 38.6 percent from the field, but he still provides meaningful spacing for his teammates and gives the Kings real offense when he’s hot. He’s a known commodity. Horton-Tucker is not.
That makes a deal appear unlikely for the moment. The Lakers and the Kings, even if they are both outside of the top six looking in, appear to want the same thing: to get better right now. The Kings felt that the Hield deal they negotiated in the offseason involving Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell accomplished that for them. A Horton-Tucker trade probably doesn’t. Until the Lakers decide to include meaningful draft capital or find a third team that can give the Kings a win-now asset, Hield likely isn’t an option for the purple and gold.