The Los Angeles Lakers aren’t just listening to offers this trade season — they’re pursuing them.
Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times reported that Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka “initiated a call with Sacramento to gauge the Kings’ interest” in young forward Kyle Kuzma.
The Kings have had a disappointing 15-23 campaign so far, but are determined to build around a young core that includes De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley III. A report earlier in the week from Marc Stein of the New York Times linked the Kings to Kuzma. However, he reported that Sacramento will have to give up Bogdan Bogdanovic in the deal just for starters.
The 27-year-old Bogdanovic was the 27th overall pick in the 2014 draft. He spent some time playing overseas before joining the Kings and making his NBA debut during the 2017-18 season.
After starting 70 games over the last two seasons, Bogdanovic has been coming off the bench exclusively in his third year, but is averaging 28.3 minutes — a career-high. He’s averaging 14.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.1 steals per game. Jason Jones of The Athletic reported it would take a “crazy” offer to pry Bogdanovic from the Kings.
“According to some teams I’ve talked to, Kyle Kuzma is available,” Windhorst said on ESPN. “It doesn’t mean that they are saying, ‘will you take Kyle Kuzma off our hands.’ … But if you want Kyle Kuzma, he is available right now. The challenge is he makes $2 million. … Under the NBA trade rules – remember if you’re the Lakers and you’re going to trade Kyle Kuzma, you’re going to want a player that is as good or better to come back or in some situations maybe multiple players. But you can’t do that with a $2 million player, so it makes it very difficult to find a trade.”
Windhorst noted Kentavious Caldwell-Pope could help bring the numbers closer in any deal — he makes just over $8 million — but he was given a no-trade clause hen he signed this offseason.
Kyle Kuzma Lakers Most Valuable Trade Chip
Kuzma has long been viewed as the Lakers most valuable trade asset, but reports have varied on how willing they would actually be to give up the 24-year-old. Heavy’s Sean Deveney reported that the deal would take a high-rotation player and a first-round pick that in or around the lottery.
Kuzma struggled with injuries early on this season — dealing with a stress reaction in his foot and an ankle injury — but seems to be finding a rhythm with the injuries behind him. He’s averaging 12 points and 3.6 rebounds per game in a sixth man role off the bench. With Anthony Davis expected to miss time after his tumble against the Knicks on Tuesday night, the Lakers will need more scoring from Kuzma to keep their win streak — currently at five — alive.
As for the trade chatter, Kuzma is not getting too worked up.
“I mean, just got to just not really worry about it,” Kuzma told reporters over the weekend. “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 in this time, so it doesn’t really matter at the end of the day. Just control what you can control.”
Lakers Linked to Multiple Trade Targets
Even if the Lakers don’t move Kuzma in a major deal, they’re expected to improve the roster through “fringe” moves to fill in some holes in the second unit — most notably at backup point guard.
Rajon Rondo hasn’t lived up to his usual standard of play, and some scoring punch is much needed from the spot in the rotation. Retired point guard Darren Collison has been linked to the Lakers as a possible option. Reports have him eyeing a February return, after the trade deadline.
Marcus Morris, Davis Bertans and even Robert Covington have been linked to the Lakers in trade talk.