Seeing as he’s really the only trade asset the Los Angeles Lakers have at their disposal, Kyle Kuzma has found his name at the center of just about any trade rumor that has come up this season. Usually in situations like this, Kuzma has leaned on his teammates who also were mentioned in such rumors, but this year, he’s been somewhat alone in his name being out there.
On the most recent episode of his podcast, “Inside the Green Room,” Danny Green detailed the general vibe around Kuzma, even if no one has specifically said anything to him:
“From what I know, no one’s really spoke to him about it. I don’t think it’s a thing anybody speaks on in the locker room when there’s rumors because it’s just rumors. And whatever team you’re on, you consider them family, your brother. We’re here now, this is what we’re focused on. We want you here.
“Obviously that’s not always our decision, but he’s a great player, a great young talent. Regardless of what happens, he’s always going to be family, a brother of ours, but he’s here now and we want him here. We’ve expressed that from time to time and we’ve tried to embrace him.”
Honestly, this is somewhat troubling. Yes, it’s great to hear that his teammates want him around, but to let Kuzma handle all this on his own doesn’t seem like the best approach, even if Kuzma himself has claimed he’s not worried about the rumors and that he’s used to them.
What’s tough is that Kuzma just doesn’t really have many peers on the roster. The vast majority of the rotation is made up of veterans, and the closest teammate to Kuzma in age is Alex Caruso.
Can you think of two NBA players who might have less in common than Kyle Kuzma and Alex Caruso? Yeah, me neither.
At some point, though, the Lakers are going to have to either decide to move on from Kuzma, or show more commitment to him than they have this season. Maybe it’s a good idea for his veteran teammates to actually voice to him that they want him around. Perhaps it’d be productive for the Lakers to leak that they don’t think they have to move Kuzma to improve the roster. To this point, they’ve basically done the exact opposite.
Yes, trade talks and trade rumors are all part of playing in the NBA. Yes, the best way to avoid being named in those news cycles is to elevate your play to a place where the team would never want to trade you.
But it also has to be tough to know that you’re the only guy on your team whose name is going to come up when trade talks start, and having Kuzma deal with that on his own — even while voicing support publicly and privately — doesn’t seem like enough given the chemistry we’ve seen all season from this Lakers team.
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