Kyle Kuzma Laughs At Rob Pelinka’s Comments About Desire To Keep Lakers’ Young Core Together
Kyle Kuzma, Lakers
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Thanks to the moves made by Rob Pelinka and the Los Angeles Lakers’ front office around the trade deadline this season, the Lakers find themselves with a nice group of young talent. Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura, D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley are all 27 years or younger and have skill sets that can really help a team.

But this offseason will be a very telling one as the only one of those players who is on a guaranteed contract next season is Vanderbilt. Reaves and Hachimura are both restricted free agents while Russell is unrestricted and Beasley’s deal is non-guaranteed, and the Lakers will need to make a decision before the start of free agency.

During his exit interview, Pelinka spoke about the team’s intentions to keep their young players together. That comment amused former Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma as he laughed about it on Twitter:

Kuzma, of course, is laughing at the fact that the Lakers’ previous young core which included himself Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle and Josh Hart among others, were all either traded away or simply let go. Kuzma was the one who lasted the longest, winning an NBA Championship with the Lakers in 2020, but the front office ultimately chose to go in a different direction with him as well.

In fairness, Ingram, Ball and Hart were all part of the Anthony Davis trade which immediately brought the Lakers a championship, so it’s hard to argue with that move. Likewise, trading away Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. and letting Randle walk in free agency were needed to clear out the salary cap space to sign LeBron James.

Kuzma’s own trade to the Washington Wizards to bring back Russell Westbrook is far less defensible, but the Lakers front office has done a good job recovering from that and now look to have a solid core in place. But keeping all of them around this offseason could prove costly so it will be interesting to see the decisions Pelinka makes this summer.

Lakers expected to match any offers on Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura

While the future of some of the Lakers’ young players may be up in the air, that doesn’t seem to be the case for the two who came up huge in the postseason this year.

Both Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura are restricted free agents, giving the Lakers the right to match any contract offer and the latest reports say that is exactly what they will do. It may be pricey as both could command substantial offers, but each proved that they can deliver when it matters most.

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