The 2019-20 NBA trade deadline has officially passed and while teams like the Los Angeles Clippers and Miami Heat loaded up, the Los Angeles Lakers unsurprisingly decided to stand pat with their current roster.
Since becoming the team’s general manager, Rob Pelinka has made at least one move every deadline but with limited assets, a deal seemed unlikely given the lack of sellers in a market full of playoff contenders during the 2019-20 NBA season.
Despite the circumstances, Los Angeles appeared to be engaged with several teams on adding an impact player and Kyle Kuzma was in the middle of most of those talks as he is arguably the only attractive piece left for a team bereft of assets after the Anthony Davis trade.
Ultimately, the Lakers decided to keep Kuzma and after the loss to the Houston Rockets, he admitted that there is no extra pressure on him to perform.
“No, nope. Just play my role,” Kuzma said.
“Come in, play with energy, crash the boards every time, and when I get the ball just try to make the best of it. There’s no pressure. The media people, they may try to make those extra pressures on you, but I trust my teammates and I trust in what we got going on here and I just try to play my role.”
Kuzma’s inconsistency during the season has been well-documented as he has clearly had to adjust to playing next to two ball-dominant players in LeBron James and Anthony Davis. While Kuzma has flashed his scoring ability in smaller lineups, he has also disappointingly disappeared in several games, much to the frustration of fans.
He was reported to be the centerpiece for a Marcus Morris deal, but talks between the Lakers and New York Knicks apparently broke down after the former was unwilling to meet New York’s steep asking price. Morris was instead sent to the Clippers, giving them another player to perhaps check James if the two teams were to meet in the 2020 NBA playoffs.
Kuzma still has time to prove that keeping him around was the correct move, but there will probably be more up-and-down games in the meantime as he continues to figure out his role on the team. Hopefully, he finds his groove down the stretch of the season as he is arguably the purple and gold’s biggest X-factor.