In the summer of 2017, the Lakers had one of the most successful drafts a team has had in recent memory, picking up Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart and Thomas Bryant—players that have carved out successful careers in the NBA. While Bryant’s time in Los Angeles was brief, Ball, Kuzma and Hart were expected to be cornerstones for the team for years to come.
For better or for worse, that will longer be the case.
In June, the Lakers traded Ball, Hart and Ingram to the New Orleans Pelicans for three-time block champion and six-time All-Star Anthony Davis. Now, Kuzma is the only remaining player from that 2017 NBA Draft, something he told Shams Charania of The Athletic he didn’t see coming:
“You never really thought about having our young core go through a big trade,” Kuzma says. “You think about growing together, growing into stars in this league together, and forming a dynasty. I never thought about change, about being the last man standing.”
However, while he might not be on the same team as Ball, Hart or Ingram anymore, he wishes them nothing but the best in New Orleans, where they’ll have an opportunity to come into their own out of the spotlight in Los Angeles:
“We all have a lot of things we want to accomplish in this league. It couldn’t happen together, but those guys are special. It shows you the league is a business.”
Not getting the opportunity to see Ball, Hart, Ingram and Kuzma blossom while wearing the purple and gold is always going to sting Lakers fans a little bit, but having two top-15 players in Davis and LeBron James and a homegrown talent in Kuzma should help ease the pain. Plus, Ball, Hart and Ingram are always just an NBA League Pass subscription away.