One of the more interesting things to watch for the Los Angeles Lakers is what the team will do with young forward Kyle Kuzma. Though he wasn’t the third star many hoped he would become, Kuzma was still an extremely important part of the Lakers’ championship run.
Kuzma’s scoring and overall efficiency dropped in his third season as he struggled to adjust to a new role and dealt with injuries early in the year. But he did work hard on other facets of his game, becoming a much improved defender and facilitator and finding other ways to impact the game.
But now Kuzma is facing a big point in his career as he is now eligible for a contract extension after three seasons in the league. On the “Brian Windhorst & the Hoop Collective” podcast, Windhorst noted that Kuzma is hoping for a substantial contract:
“Then you’ve got Kuzma, who is extension eligible, still has a year left on his contract but extension eligible. From what I understand, is expecting a sizable deal. Hoping for a sizable deal.”
Kuzma will be a very interesting case as the potential he showed in his first two seasons hasn’t yet turned into consistent production at a top level. He did play an important role for the Lakers, but whether he can grow into a bigger one with LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the team is unclear.
It would also seem unlikely that the Lakers would want to add any money on their books for 2021-22, as they have no guaranteed deals for that season other than the expected Anthony Davis contract. And even if they don’t extend Kuzma’s contract, it would only make him a restricted free agent next offseason so they could match any contract offer if they choose to.
Exactly what is considered acceptable in the mind of Kuzma and his representatives is anybody’s guess and it will be interesting to see how the Lakers navigate the situation. If they do allow Kuzma to go into free agency, even as a restricted free agent, all it will take is for one team to believe he is worth that level of money and the Lakers will have a tough decision to make.
Lakers expected to be active in free agency
While a Kuzma free agency can’t happen until 2021, the Lakers still have 2020 free agency to deal with and not much time to do it. And after winning a championship, the front office is not resting on their laurels as they are expected to be active.
The Lakers have their own free agents to worry about first and foremost as decisions must be made on the likes of Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Markieff Morris, all of whom played huge roles on the championship run.
Combined with the Davis deal and outside options who have been rumored as targets, and the Lakers will be very busy in a short amount of time.
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