Kyle Kuzma is no stranger to trade rumors. Even the pick that the Los Angeles Lakers used to draft Kuzma in 2017 was acquired in a trade with the Brooklyn Nets. Now, it would be extremely difficult for the Lakers to trade Kuzma because of his contract.
It’s not that Kuzma’s contract is bad — in fact, compared to the other rookie contract extensions that were signed this month, Kuzma’s is pretty team-friendly. It’s the “poison pill” provision in Kuzma’s contract that makes him nearly impossible to trade.
If Kuzma is traded before the 2021-22 season, when his contract extension will kick in, his incoming salary for the team acquiring him will be the average of his current salary and the annual salary of his extension, which, combined is $10.9 million. For the Lakers, though, his outgoing salary will count as just $3.6 million, which is his current annual salary. It’s really, really hard to make a trade work with those numbers.
So, if only for this season, Kuzma is safe, but that added sense of security hasn’t changed his mindset. Going into his fourth season, Kuzma is only concerned about the things he can control.
“I’ve kind of gotten to the point where I’ve kind of been numb to it,” Kuzma said. “Going through my career, just about since I was a rookie I’ve been in trade rumors, so at a certain point you really get numb to it, so that’s something that doesn’t really bother me.”
The truth is that there’s nothing that a player in Kuzma’s position can do to keep himself out of trade rumors. Only a select few players in the league are truly untouchable and Kuzma isn’t one of those players. Even then, those “untouchable” players are occasionally moved — it’s just the nature of the business.
The only thing Kuzma can control is how he handles being in those trade rumors, and judging by his comments, he’s learned how to handle it pretty well.