While Kyle Kuzma is the longest-tenured Los Angeles Lakers player, his future with the team has always seemed to be in question.
Kuzma’s name has been in trade rumors every season and offseason, and that remains the case now even after signing an extension to remain with the team before the 2020-21 season.
The reason for that is Kuzma is coming off an inconsistent year, averaging 12.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 68 games (32 starts).
To Kuzma’s credit, he did improve immensely on the defensive end of the floor. The team needed him to step up as a scorer in the absence of both LeBron James and Anthony Davis though, and for the more part, he was unable to do that on a consistent basis.
So now going into the summer, the Lakers are again shopping Kuzma on the trade market, via Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report:
Meanwhile, Los Angeles continues to gauge rival teams’ interest in Kyle Kuzma, sources told B/R, although Schroder does carry a higher trade value around the NBA.
It’s hard to say what Kuzma’s value is on the trade market considering his three-year, $40 million extension is set to kick in beginning this upcoming season.
The Lakers are said to be looking for a ‘difference-making playmaker’ in order to play LeBron James at the four and Anthony Davis at the five more though, which wouldn’t leave much room for Kuzma, who is a natural four that can play some three.
Kuzma recently expressed a bit of frustration with his inconsistent role, so perhaps he would be open to a trade if it’s to a team that can give him the consistent role he’s looking for. He also maintains that he can still be an All-Star level player, so he’s clearly not lacking in confidence.
Pelinka hoping to retain players Lakers have drafted and developed
Although it makes sense that the Lakers are shopping Kuzma on the trade market, Rob Pelinka actually said the opposite at the end of the 2020-21 season.
“In terms of free agency we feel like we have a core group of players that can do special things,” Pelinka said. “I’m convinced that, again, without some of the unforeseen circumstances this year, the challenges we had to face, that we’d be a championship-caliber team.
“So the goal is to try to keep that core group together and of course with players like Talen Horton-Tucker and Alex Caruso and Kyle Kuzma, players that you draft or bring into your two-way system and groom and develop, there’s a level of pride in that and what the Lakers have been able to do with those players and to grow them. So of course our intentions would be to keep our core together and to have a championship team. So that would be the answer there.”
It’s not new to see an executive show support to his players, even if he plans to trade them later in the offseason. So it should be interesting to see what the Lakers ultimately do with Kuzma as the organization has a number of important roster decisions to make this summer.
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