NBA Trade News: Kevin Durant Soon To Join L.A Lakers? Next Face of Franchise After Kobe Bryant

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By Lou Ramon Aguila | January 6, 2014 2:40 AM EST

The Los Angeles Lakers might have been busy on the trading front right now, but the ball club's real target will be available two seasons from now. According to Lakerholics.com, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak is likely preparing to acquire All-Star forward Kevin Durant, when he becomes a free agent in the summer of 2016.

Reuters
Pau Gasol could be traded to New York Knicks

The Lakers are already setting their sight on the next face of the franchise, and Durant is likely the one. Lakerholics.com reported that the three-time scoring champion is likely the primary target of the Lakers, who are expected to have loads of cap space when Kobe Bryant's two-year, 48.5 million contract expired.

A couple of weeks ago, there were reports about the Lakers' failed attempt to send Pau Gasol to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for All-Star center Brook Lopez.

Lopez, who signed a four-year, $60 million deal in the summer of 2012, would have given the Lakers a reliable big man, had the trade happened, but his presence would also limit the Lakers' ability to sign high-paying free agents next summer.

However, Lakerholics.com believed the Lakers front office has no intention to use their cap space via free agent signing, but instead they want to utilize it to facilitate trades, no matter how big the contracts they would absorb in return.

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"Mitch Kupchak has said all along that the Lakers' cap space may be used in a trade instead of via free agency, though having a contract like Lopez's that runs until 2016 would mean that the team would probably be unable to chase the likes of Kevin Love in 2015," via Lakerholics.com

"It would also mean that the purple and gold would have a ton of cap space when Kobe Bryant's contract comes off the books and Kevin Durant becomes a free agent in 2016," the site stated.

In a recent report on ESPN, the Lakers are reportedly in talk with the Cleveland Cavaliers for a Gasol-for-Andrew Bynum swap (primarily because of Bynum's team salary friendly two-year contract, though their attempt to acquire Lopez and his big contract only showed the Lakers willingness to give Bryant a reliable sidekick for the two and half seasons of his career.

Of course, bringing a contract as large as Lopez's will prevent the Lakers in getting the likes of Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh this coming summer or Kevin Love in 2015, but the Lakers can sure wait for two more years for a chance to land Durant, a bonifide superstar very much capable of continuing the franchise's winning tradition.

"While there may not be a Pau-Lopez swap coming up any time soon, this tidbit of information tells us that the Lakers may not be so much against the idea of taking on large contracts that will eliminate their cap flexibility over the coming summers if it means that they can bring in players who can help make an instant impact to the team," via Lakerholics.

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Pau Gasol could be traded to New York Knicks
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