Kyle Kuzma has been one of the two leading scorers on the Los Angeles Lakers since he was drafted No. 27 overall in 2017, but he hasn’t been paid like it. Luckily, the benefits of playing in the second-biggest market in the NBA seem to have paid dividends for the 24-year-old.
According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, Kuzma has finalized his oft-rumored shoe deal with Puma and will make roughly $3 million annually over the next five years. That may be less than what Marvin Bagley III signed on for as a rookie, but it’s still good money for a late first-round pick.
For context, Kuzma is expected to make more money over the next two seasons through his shoe deal than his rookie contract with the Lakers, which will pay him $5.5 million through 2021. Fun fact: Kuzma had the lowest annual salary of anyone that averaged at least 18 points per game last season.
Additionally, at a newer brand like Puma, Kuzma might have the opportunity to get his own signature shoe due the large following he has. That’s an opportunity he may not have gotten at Nike, as I laid out in our writeup from last month:
If Kuzma signs with Puma, he’ll have the opportunity to be one of the faces of the brand because of the large fanbase he’s built with the Lakers. To put things into perspective, Kuzma has more followers on Instagram than Ayton, Bagley, Gay and Rozier combined. The only Puma basketball athlete that has close to as many followers as Kuzma is Cousins, who has 3 million followers. Kuzma has 3.6 million followers.
While it wouldn’t have been impossible for him to stand out with Nike — who declined to match Puma’s offer — it would have been hard with their star athletes like LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Paul George all already boasting signature shoes with the brand. With Puma, he’ll have the opportunity to become one of the faces of the brand, and the marketing has already begun.