EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — The NBA dealmaking season is officially upon us, as Dec. 15 was the first day that players signed in the offseason became eligible to be traded, signaling the start of teams really beginning to negotiate various transactions to either sell off players before tanking, or to try and package assets to improve their team.
The Lakers would seem to decidedly rank in the latter category, and the tenor of the rumors that are starting to heat up around the team reflect as much. The team was connected to Darren Collison earlier in the week, a player they wouldn’t have to trade for but would have to cut or trade some players to have room to sign. There was also a rumor that the team is interested in D.J. Augustin on some level, and perhaps most notable was the report that multiple teams have called the Lakers about Kyle Kuzma, and that the front office has so far not been interested in moving him.
For Kuzma, who was involved in Magic Johnson’s everything-but-the-kitchen-sink trade offers for Anthony Davis, trade rumors don’t phase him anymore. While it should be noted he wasn’t asked about this latest rumor specifically, he did say that trade rumors are just business as usual with the Lakers when asked about the season in general after a rare Saturday practice.
“I don’t really worry about it. For me, I’ve been in trade rumors ever since I came here. I think that’s just a thing that happens when you’re a Laker. You’re always in trade rumors, especially around this time,” Kuzma said.
While this author couldn’t find rumors that Kuzma was on the market from his rookie season, it’s easy why last year might have felt like two years, and why it might have made Kuzma feel like he’s been involved in rumors ever since he joined the team. And hell, technically the pick used to draft him was traded to the Lakers, so maybe he is right from a certain point of view.
But with all that noted, it’s probably still unlikely that Kuzma get dealt this season. Given how little he’s making (just under $2 million this season) and how hard it would be for the Lakers to move their other deals — due to having multiple players with functional no-trade clauses and guys who aren’t making that much money — it would be difficult to package a trade around Kuzma that gets the Lakers someone more ready to contribute than he is right now.
Add in that Kuzma still has some upside left as a 24-year-old and is one of the few younger players on the roster who might also help the Lakers in their next, post-LeBron era, and it’s difficult to see the Lakers essentially giving up on him when his value is lower than it’s probably ever been since before his breakout rookie campaign.
Still, rumors about whether he will or won’t be traded isn’t something Kuzma is going to lie awake thinking about either way.
“It doesn’t really matter at the end of the day, you just control what you can control,” Kuzma said.
And Kuzma certainly can’t control trade rumors, so at least he has plenty of experience blocking them out.
All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.