Midway through the 2017-18 NBA season, Isaiah Thomas teamed up with Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma following a trade-deadline move between the Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers.
Although Thomas only appeared in 17 games before requiring season-ending hip surgery, he established himself as a mentor to the team’s young core. While there were scenarios of Thomas re-signing depending on how free agency played out, the Lakers ultimately signed Rajon Rondo to a one-year, $9 million contract.
Despite their short time together, a mutual respect was developed between Thomas and Kuzma. The latest sign of that came from Thomas during his appearance on “Tiki and Tierney” in which he praised Kuzma:
“Kyle Kuzma is a very underrated guy. He uses the doubt that everybody has for his game as motivation. He’s somebody who works very hard and is going to be another special young talent in this league.”
As both players prepare for the 2018-19 season, Kuzma recently participated at Thomas’ fifth annual Zeke-End Basketball Tournament. With the 23-year-old displaying his improved ball-handling skills, he will look to take another step in his development.
After Kuzma averaged 16.1 points and 6.3 rebounds in 31.2 minutes per game during his rookie season, he is projected to be the team’s sixth man. However, Lakers head coach Luke Walton revealed there will be an open competition during training camp for the four starting spots alongside LeBron James.