Western Conference Team Engaging Lakers in Trade for Kyle Kuzma

Getty Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma.

Speculation has been growing around the possibility of the Los Angeles Lakers dealing Kyle Kuzma and one of the teams interested in engaging in a possible trade for the young forward has been revealed.

The Sacramento Kings — who are determined to build around their young core that includes De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley III — have tried to engage the Lakers in a trade for Kuzma, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times. However, for starters the team will have to give up Bogdan Bogdanovic in the deal.

Bogdanovic, 27, 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 28.1 minutes — a career-high. He’s averaging 14.5 points,  three rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.1 steals per game.

Sam Amick of The Athletic reported that the Kings would “unlikely” be interested in a straight up Kuzma-for-Bogdanovic swap, adding the team values his versatility.

The Lakers are in need of reliable guard depth and a scorer off the bench. Bogdanovic is due to become a restricted free agent this offseason after turning down an offer from the Kings this offseason.

The Lakers also emerged as a suitor in a possible trade for David Bertans. The sharp-shooting 27-year-old forward is averaging 15.4 points and 30 minutes — both career-highs —with the struggling Washington Wizards.

Contrasting Reports on Kyle Kuzma’s Availability Via Trade

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported last week that several teams have been doing their “due diligence” on a possible deal for Kuzma, but the Lakers are not trying to make a major move that involves him, but rather smaller ones to improve the roster.

It was reported a few days later by Sam Amick of The Athletic that the Lakers are listening to teams about a deal for the 24-year-old, but will likely be reluctant to move him unless a package blows them away. They view Kuzma as a key part of their future and Rob Pelinka — the Lakers general manager — will be reluctant to trade him.

“Pelinka, who drafted him 27th overall out of Utah in 2017, is widely known to be his biggest backer and is widely expected to be reluctant to move him,” Amick reported.

The Lakers priority is to improve the backup point guard position, through either a trade or the possibility of coaxing Darren Collison out of retirement.

Collison is just 32 and can still be a contributor. He averaged 12.5 points and 5.0 assists over his career and can be a 3-point threat as well. He shot nearly 47% from deep during the 2017-18 season, leading the league. He shot over 40% last season as well.

Kyle Kuzma Taking Trade Rumors in Stride

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 a finish to December, leading the Lakers in scoring twice. He’s averaging 11.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game in a sixth man role off the bench.

Kuzma spoke with reporters after Saturday’s practice about how he’s dealt with his name being involved in trade speculation.

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“I mean, just got to just not really worry about it,” Kuzma said. “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.”

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