Kyle Kuzma really, really wants to be a Laker again. He won’t outright say that, obviously, but it’s pretty clear if you start reading between the lines.
In his return to Los Angeles this past weekend, Kuzma sat down and talked with Dave McMenamin of ESPN, revealing his discussion with Rob Pelinka when he was dealt and how it was treated as “never a ‘goodbye,’ it’s always a ‘see you later.’”
He’s spoken about how he has no hard feelings toward the Lakers. He said he has nothing but love for the franchise and its fans. He called it a “blessing” that the Lakers have reportedly inquired about trading for him.
It’s the very opposite of burning bridges with Kuzma doing everything possible to keep this bridge fully stable and supported when it comes to the Lakers. It’d be hard to blame him considering the Lakers’ desires to win a title and Washington’s current trajectory of finishing much closer to the top of the Victor Wenbanyama race than the title one.
In the same piece he talked about the Lakers being interested in him in a trade, Kuzma spoke with Melissa Rohlin of Fox Sports about watching the Lakers struggle after trading him and how hard it’s been to watch.
Kuzma said it has been hard watching the Lakers struggle so much despite having two of the top players in the league on their roster. Last season, they had championship expectations but failed to even make the playoffs.
“It’s hard to watch,” Kuzma said. “Those are your brothers. Those are my brothers for life. I won a championship with them. So, naturally, I always want to see them do good. Being healthy, that’s been an issue for them, [as well as] roster make-up for them, all this other stuff. I want to see them do well. Those are my guys.”
In fact, Kuzma said he’s still close with James and Davis.
“I talk to them all the time,” he said, adding that they regularly exchange messages on Instagram, and he often seeks their advice.
It may seem obvious that he’d root for his former teammates, but not everyone chooses the high road in these situations. NBA players, as we saw at the most extreme level in “The Last Dance,” thrive on personal vendettas.
Kuzma holding some sort of grudge against the Lakers for trading him wouldn’t have been a first — nor would it have been unexpected, to be honest. The fact he isn’t doing that kind of only adds fuel to the fire that he could be returning to Los Angeles at some point.
Theoretically, the Lakers could have cap space this summer if they either don’t trade Russell Westbrook or don’t take on long-term money if they do. And Kuzma is set for unrestricted free agency as well this summer.
Potentially, a reunion could be in the cards, if the two sides want it. Even if none of this ends in Kuzma playing in purple and gold again, it’s nice to see him continue to hold the Lakers in high regard, and it will certainly keep him a fan favorite moving forward.