We continue to get more and more news each day about just how much trade interest there is surrounding Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma. There was a report over the weekend that the Lakers were listening to offers for Kuzma after previously being said to not be very interested in such talks, and on Monday morning Marc Stein of the New York Times reported that Sacramento Kings are one of the interested teams.
Sacramento is among the teams that has tried to engage the Lakers in Kyle Kuzma trade talks, league sources say. The Kings know they would have to include sharpshooter (and soon-to-be restricted free agent) Bogdan Bogdanovic, for starters, in a Kuzma deal— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) January 6, 2020
Lakers fans will likely remember Bogdanovic for the game-winner he hit against them last year, and he is a shooter that could likely help this team’s spacing. He is shooting 38.3% on threes this year, and ranks in the 80th percentile of the league as a spot-on shooter, according to Synergy. And while it’s not certain how he would affect the context of the Lakers’ defensive ecosystem because that isn’t always easy to translate midseason, it’s at least worth noting that the Kings are nearly three points per 100 possessions better on defense when Bogdanovic plays than they are when he sits.
However, before anyone buys their Bogdanovic jersey or starts debating which lineups he should play most in, it’s worth noting that we soon got the mandatory counter-leak from the Kings, who — reading between the lines based on the wording here and whose position these leaks benefit — are apparently not fans of being used as leverage to try and get other teams to up their offers for Kuzma:
Re: @TheSteinLine’s intel about possible Kuzma-for-Bogdanovic swap, I’m told Kings are unlikely to be interested straight up. They value his versatility, are comfortable w/ his restricted free agency & are 0-6 w/out him. https://t.co/TLJqACY03F— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) January 6, 2020
Some Kings employee is running around to local reporters asking them to tweet the same thing verbatim lmaoooo pic.twitter.com/8YdPoQCDkT— The Last Kings Optimist (@okhanSTR) January 6, 2020
That noted, NBA cap expert Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report did add some important context here:
Well, to be fair, there is no legal straight-up Kuz/Bogdanovic trade - Lakers need to send out enough salary to match BB's $8.5 mil and Kuz doesn't make enough at $2 mil to do so. So by definition, someone else would have to go out from LA https://t.co/WlqY9QXf5f— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) January 6, 2020
So will the Lakers trade for Bogdanovic? As of right now, it’s probably not worth betting on, just because the timing of these two leaks would seem to imply that the Lakers are far from close to any sort of deal with the Kings.
Still, the Kings make some sense as a suitor for Kuzma in general, as they’re a young team who could potentially give the Lakers a player who might fit better, and they are led by Kuzma’s former coach and one of his biggest advocates in Luke Walton. Some within their organization valuing him is not surprising, especially given that they have much of the same coaching staff that helped Kuzma grow and saw how hard he works behind the scenes, something other teams may not have as much experience with or value as highly.
For now, the only thing that’s clear is that it’s a good thing Kuzma said he’s used to hearing his name in trade rumors, because that doesn’t appear set to slow down anytime soon.
This is a developing story that will be updated with more information. 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.