The Los Angeles Lakers are 28-7 and first in the Western Conference during the 2019-20 NBA season, yet it is clear there is still room for improvement.
The Lakers have strung together a modest four-game winning streak with their most recent win coming against the New Orleans Pelicans. Although Los Angeles won by 10 points, they once again gave up a huge lead and allowed New Orleans to cut the deficit to single digits down the stretch, an alarming sign for a team so talented.
Anthony Davis and LeBron James are good enough on most nights to mask the team’s deficiencies, but the lack of another playmaker and shot creator will rear its head in the 2020 NBA playoffs against better competition.
Los Angeles could look to the market to try and bolster the roster and it appears teams have their eyes on Kyle Kuzma ahead of the 2019-20 NBA trade deadline, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic:
Several teams are doing their due diligence on forward Kyle Kuzma and viewing whether they can pluck the talented 24-year-old as part of their future from the championship-contending Lakers, but the Lakers value Kuzma as a core part of the future and are focused on making moves around the edges and not a major one, league sources say.
However, the Lakers seem content with letting Kuzma find his way within head coach Frank Vogel’s scheme:
The Lakers found Kuzma with the No. 27 pick in the 2017 NBA draft and have invested in his growth. As owners of the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, having time to figure out Kuzma’s acclimation to the rotation is a good thing.
Kuzma has had a relatively up-and-down start to his third season as he has battled foot and ankle injuries that robbed him of court time with the rest of the Lakers. Despite that, he has perked up as of late, showing the slashing and three-point shooting he flashed his previous two seasons.
The front office was reportedly unwilling to include Kuzma in the deal that brought Davis over from the Pelicans, so it would not make sense to offload him now for another veteran player. Instead, Los Angeles might be better served seeing how the buyout market takes shape as there are several players who could be released once the deadline passes.