It’s been two months since the notorious Anthony Davis trade saga at the NBA trade deadline, and a few of the younger members of the Los Angeles Lakers have had enough time to reflect on being involved in trade rumors for the first time in their careers.
During the team’s exit interviews last week, second-year forward Kyle Kuzma said that he understands everything that unfolded after the trade deadline, including former president of basketball operations Magic Johnson’s comments that the media shouldn’t treat the young Lakers like babies.
“For me I would never say nothing bad about Magic. He’s a guy that gave me an opportunity to come in this league and play for this great organization,” Kuzma said. “To not baby us, that’s right. We’re professionals, we are young, we have a lot of young guys, but for us we’re professionals.”
Kuzma acknowledged that there was some awkwardness in the locker room following the trade deadline, but he likened the dynamic among his teammates to a family.
“So many times is sports and basketball you always preach family. Everybody’s a family and at the end of day, you go into arena and it’s the 15 to 17 of you guys versus 20,000 people,” Kuzma said. “Everybody on this roster was very cool with each other, hung out and as the regular season progress, guys got closer.
“Bringing in so many new guys in at once, and having a new team and having a collection of older guys that have families and have their life figured out, and then you have a lot of young guys, you know you’re going to have that disconnect sometimes, but I can’t say enough positive things for everybody in that locker room.”
The oldest guy in the locker room this past season was Tyson Chandler, who played his first NBA game when Kuzma was just six years old. As an 18-year veteran, Chandler was able to give his thoughts on how being involved in trade rumors can shape a player early in their career.
“I remember that when I was younger. I was in Chicago and the first time I got traded it was a shock to me. It was unexpected. Didn’t know how to deal with it. I remember I cried because it was the first time I had been rejected in my career. When you’re young, like myself and a lot of these guys, everybody always wants you, and then for the first time in your career, somebody is saying that you don’t quite make the cut. It takes a toll mentally, but it’s a part of our business, so it’s gonna happen, no matter where you’re at,” Chandler said.
“And that’s just one thing that has to happen to you, and then you have to get over it,” Chandler continued. “It took a bit of a toll. That, and having our injuries, because even without that having the injuries (the rumors) would’ve been tough. But all of those things, it made it a little difficult to come back from.”
Luckily, Kuzma and the rest of the young Lakers will have an opportunity to learn from their experience next season, assuming all of them aren’t traded for Davis this summer. If not, we’ll do this all again next February.