With the 2019-20 NBA trade deadline fast approaching and the Los Angeles Lakers seemingly in need of another contributor to boost their chances at a championship, it only makes sense that rumors start circulating.
Of course, with the team’s lack of trade assets, those rumors have zeroed in on the one they do have: Kyle Kuzma.
Injuries and inconsistency have plagued Kuzma’s third season in the league. Though he is still third on the team in scoring, he’s averaging around seven points fewer than last season. Additionally, his change in role — with the addition of Anthony Davis — has made things difficult on him as well.
While the Lakers apparently aren’t actively shopping him, the latest reports have said they have been willing to listen to offers on Kuzma. However, according to Sean Deveney of Heavy.com, the Lakers aren’t close to any deal involving their best young player:
But league sources told Heavy.com that the notion of the Lakers pulling the trigger on a deal for Kuzma is still a long way off.
Prying Kuzma away from Los Angeles won’t come cheap either as the team is looking for a rotation player as well as some draft capital to part with him:
One general manager said the Lakers would ask for a high rotation player—preferably a point guard—who could bolster the chances for LeBron James and Anthony Davis to earn a spot in the Finals, as well as a first-round draft pick that projects to be in or around the lottery.
The Lakers would also consider two potential lesser first-round picks as part of a package for Kuzma.
This makes sense from the team’s standpoint. They have a team designed to win now so any deal would have to bring them back someone who can help them win immediately. But the team also gave away a lot of draft picks to bring in Davis, so replenishing some of that would be a boost as well.
The question is whether or not it is worth giving up on Kuzma already. LeBron James remains a big believer in his ability and he is one of the only other players on the Lakers capable of creating his own shot on offense which is a big issue on this team. Still, his inconsistency remains a problem.
Over his last 14 games played, Kuzma has six games of at least 15 points. However, in that same timeframe, he has six games with single-digit points with four of those being four points or less, including one scoreless outing.
General manager Rob Pelinka will have to think long and hard on any move involving Kuzma, but he will explore every avenue to improve this team and in the trade market, this is practically his only one.