One of the biggest strengths of the Los Angeles Lakers’ 2020 championship team was their chemistry as they did everything together off the floor, and it showed on the floor when they had to depend on each other in dire situations.
This past season’s team though was never able to reach that level as the Lakers brought in a handful of new players and a short offseason, plus a wrath of injuries, really hurt in the chemistry department. Additionally, the pandemic didn’t allow the players to bond off the court the way the 2019-20 team did.
The result was a first-round playoff exit, which was partly due to the injuries, although chemistry was also to blame as when the Lakers faced adversity, they were not able to fight back the way the championship team from a year before was consistently able to do.
Some of those chemistry issues may have stemmed from a feud between two teammates with Jordan Schultz of ESPN reporting that Dennis Schroder and Kyle Kuzma didn’t get along:
League sources say Dennis Schroder and Kyle Kuzma feuded throughout the season, with things going further south throughout the #Lakers’ first-round series loss to Phoenix. Interesting note to consider heading into the draft and free agency.
— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) July 23, 2021
This isn’t the first we’re hearing of an issue with Schroder as it was also reported at the beginning of the offseason that some people within the Lakers organization were frustrated by his on-court play. So perhaps Kuzma was the one behind that rumor.
Schroder also publically turned down strong contract extension offers from the Lakers throughout the course of the year and now is reportedly seeking $100-120 million in free agency, which could have rubbed Kuzma and others the wrong way as well.
It will be interesting to see how the Lakers handle Schroder’s free agency as even if they don’t want him back, they are over the salary cap and have no means of replacing him if he signs elsewhere. That may lead to the Lakers seeking a sign-and-trade in order to at least get something in return for the point guard they gave up Danny Green and a first-round pick for last year.
Lakers listening to offers on Kuzma
Even if Schroder isn’t back with the Lakers next season, that doesn’t mean Kuzma is safe as it was also recently reported that the team is gauging trade interest on the forward.
Kuzma is the longest-tenured Laker and just signed an extension last offseason, but he recently expressed discontent with his ever-changing role so maybe a change of scenery is the best thing for his career as well.
With free agency just a week away, it won’t be long before the Lakers have to make some tough decisions regarding Schroder, Kuzma and many other players from the 2020-21 roster.
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