Around this time last year, Kyle Kuzma and every one of his Lakers teammates — with the exception of LeBron James — were in the trade rumor mill because on Jan. 28, Anthony Davis requested a trade from the New Orleans Pelicans.
A year later, both Davis and Kuzma are in Los Angeles, but Kuzma’s name is still in trade rumors. According to a report by Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times earlier this month, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka initiated talks with the Sacramento Kings about a potential trade involving Kuzma — likely for a package that would include Bogdan Bogdanovic.
Since that initial report, Kuzma has looked sharper, averaging 26 points on 52.6% shooting from the field, including 40% from behind the arc. In the three games prior, he averaged 11 points on 33.3% shooting from the field.
However, after the Lakers’ win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday — a game in which poured on a season-high 36 points — the third-year forward told reporters that being in trade rumors has had no affect on his game, good or bad (via Spectrum SportsNet):
“Nah. That’s for y’all to talk about, I don’t really care. I’ve been through it multiple times, and obviously you see it, but it doesn’t even matter at this point.”
Although the timeframe helps support the argument that the trade rumors have fueled the run Kuzma is on, there are other factors that should be taken into consideration like the fact that he’s started two of the last three games.
It’s also worth noting that he’s been a more featured player in Frank Vogel’s offense in the absence of Anthony Davis. In his first start on Friday, he attempted more shots (22) than he did in his previous two games combined.
Have the trade rumors encouraged Kuzma to play with more focus? Maybe, but it also seems like he’s just doing more with more minutes. Going forward, may have to find a way to get Kuzma more playing time.