With a 30-7 record and two top-10 players in LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Los Angeles Lakers are the closest they’ve been to competing for a championship in almost 10 years, and they know it too. It’s why they’re reportedly listening to offers for everyone but James and Davis, talks that have most notably focused on Kyle Kuzma.
Going into the season, the expectation was that Kuzma would be the third star to James and Davis or, at the very least, a Sixth Man of the Year candidate. While Kuzma’s shown flashes, his play has been hot and cold for most of the season. To put things into perspective, Kuzma already has six more games with less than 10 points than he had last season, including a game in which he scored zero points in 26 minutes.
Whether Kuzma’s lack of production can be attributed to his new role, or the personnel he’s played with, he hasn’t been what the Lakers have needed him to be and, for that reason, his name has been floated in trade talks with several teams recently, according to Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times:
The reporting league-wide has centered around Kyle Kuzma, who is one of the Lakers’ most tradeable talents. Pelinka has had conversations with more than one team in which Kuzma was discussed, according to people familiar with those talks. He’s a good young player who has shown a great deal of promise and who has a team-friendly contract.
But the broader picture to take away from this is that the Lakers are looking for ways to improve and aren’t afraid to do what it would take to get there.
It’s no surprise that teams have some level of interest in Kuzma. For his career, the 24-year-old has averaged 16.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, and he’s only owed $5.5 million over the next two years. It’s really, really hard to find that type of production for that value.
That’s ultimately why it doesn’t matter if teams are interested in Kuzma — it only matters if they have anything of value to offer the Lakers. For example: The Houston Rockets would surely love to add a young and athletic forward like Kuzma to their high-octane offense, but the players the Lakers would be interested in either make south of $10 million or are on expiring contracts.
Until a team can present the Lakers with a trade package that will make them a title contender not just this year, but for as long as James is under contract, it seems likely they’ll hold onto Kuzma.