The Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans have been in communication over a trade for Anthony Davis over at least the last 24 hours, but it seems they’ve reached a stalemate over one player: Kyle Kuzma.
On Wednesday, Marc Stein of The New York Times was among those reporting that the Lakers were holding the 23-year-old forward out of trade talks. On Thursday, he provided an update on the situation, saying that the team plans on holding firm on that stance, at least for now:
The Lakers, thus far, are sticking to their no-Kuzma trade posture ... but let’s see if they maintain it with the draft only a week away now. L.A. knows it likely needs to land Anthony Davis before June 30 to become a factor in chasing a prime free agent to join a LeBron/AD duo— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 13, 2019
The easiest way to look at this is to go, “Wow, the Lakers are going to miss out on Davis because of Kuzma, who’s only three years younger than Davis? This team sucks!” However, as much of a portion of the fanbase would love to run with that narrative, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
According to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, Kuzma isn’t a deal-breaker for the Lakers, but whether or not they include him could change what the total package will look like:
"I don't think Kuzma is a dealbreaker. It's more the total weight of the number of assets... If Kuzma is not in the deal, it's more like the Lakers would have to give up something in the future." @ramonashelburne on AD deal— ESPNLosAngeles (@ESPNLosAngeles) June 13, 2019
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Shelburne’s ESPN colleague Adrian Wojnarowski alluded to this same idea Wednesday during an interview with “The Sedano Show,” saying negotiations at this point are a “sliding scale”:
“The one thing that I have been told has not been included is Kyle Kuzma. But that’s within the context of, ‘if you want those two, you don’t Kuzma. If you want Kuzma you don’t get say, hypothetically, the pick.’ It’s always a sliding scale, generally.”
From the Lakers’ standpoint, this makes a ton of sense.
Their reported offer of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and the No. 4 pick is already a great haul for the Pelicans, considering Davis has made it known he won’t re-sign anywhere but New York or Los Angeles. While the Pelicans would surely like Kuzma, an established scorer on a rookie contract, in place of the No. 4 pick, they might have to settle with having a top-five pick in this year’s draft and maybe a future draft pick. As far as “settling” goes, they could do much worse.
If for some reason the Pelicans are hell-bent on having Kuzma included in the package, the Lakers would likely take one of the Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram or the No. 4 pick out of the reported deal and add another of their second-tier assets like Josh Hart or a future first-round pick.
Like everyone’s been saying: It’s a tipping scale. Let’s just hope the scales tip in the Lakers’ favor.
This story will be updated with more information as the story develops. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Christian on Twitter at @RadRivas.