Over the next few weeks, players around the league will negotiate rookie contract extensions with their respective teams. Next year, Kyle Kuzma will have the opportunity to do the same with the Los Angeles Lakers, but it doesn’t seem like he’s put much thought into it yet.
In a recent interview with Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register, Kuzma said that his main priority going into the season is basketball, and that everything is else is secondary:
Kuzma tries to let his team handle his contract and other money concerns. One thing he considers a key to preserving what made him a fan favorite in the first place is maintaining a sense of joy. That applies in equal measures to his basketball career, as well as his business ventures: It needs to be real.
“Honestly, I still haven’t thought about a contract extension or anything: I would literally always play this game for free,” he said. “That’s my mindset. I’m kind of just a businessman by default. I do things because I like it, and it keeps my mind working and moving.”
It’s a good thing that Kuzma feels that way because, in all likelihood, he won’t be inking a rookie contract extension around this time next year.
While the Lakers would surely love to give Kuzma a nice, long-term contract, they have bigger, more Greek fish to fry before they can make a commitment like that (if you catch my drift).
If the Lakers signed Kuzma to a four-year, $80 million contract next fall, they’d have $15 million to spend on the rest of the roster the following summer, assuming Davis re-signs on a five-year, max deal and James opts into his $41 million player option. If they wait until the summer of 2021, when Kuzma will be a restricted free agent, their cap space will jump to roughly $25 million thanks to Kuzma’s team-friendly $10.6 million cap hold.
Regardless, Kuzma is on track to get a sizable raise when he’s up for his next contract — the question is just when it will come and who it will come from. Until that happens, though, Kuzma is going to stay focused on the task at hand: Helping the Lakers win as many games as possible.
If he does that, the Brinks trucks will come eventually.