Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on Tuesday that the Knicks have had “exploratory conversations” about the Lakers 24-year-old forward. It’s an unexpected development, considering the Knicks are 15-36 and don’t have a bevy of assets that would interest the Lakers as the gear up for a title run. But so was the team parting ways with team president Steve Mills just days before the Feb. 6 trade deadline.
“Steve and I have come to the decision that it would be best for him to leave his role as president of the New York Knicks,” Knicks owner James Dolan said in a prepared statement. “We thank Steve for his many years of service to our organization and look forward to continuing our relationship with him as part of our board.”
The Knicks were expecting to land a major free agent in the offseason, but instead ended up with a hodgepodge roster without much star power. The team also parted ways with coach David Fizdale in December, who was 21-83 during his tenure in New York.
“It has been a great honor to represent the Knicks,” Mills said in the statement. “I will always be grateful to Jim for giving me the chance to represent this franchise and I’m disappointed we were unable to achieve success for New York. I would like to thank the staff and players for their hard work during my tenure. I will always be a Knicks fan.”
Marcus Morris Made Available by Knicks
In the wake of the Mills news, it appears that the team changed its tune on dealing veteran Marcus Morris, who currently leads the team in scoring and is on an expiring contract. He’s one name that could interest the Lakers, although it’s uncertain what kind of upgrade he would be to the roster over Kuzma. The Lakers have reportedly set their sights on ball-handers that can help run the second unit and a viable third scoring option.
Morris is playing a shade over 32 minutes per game this season, averaging 19.6 points and 5.4 rebounds in 43 games played.
Charania followed up his tweet on the Kuzma talks with one saying many contenders were expressing interest in Morris, who has gained a reputation as one of the NBA’s tough guys over his career.
Kyle Kuzma Taking Trade Talk in Stride
Kuzma has been the most frequent name brought up in significant Lakers trade talk. The Sacramento Kings have been linked to Kuzma, but the Lakers reportedly turned down an offer that included Nemanja Bjelica and an undisclosed draft pick for him. The Lakers want guard Bogdan Bogdanovic if a deal was to go down.
Kuzma has shown off his potential in spurts this season, with some strong offensive showings, but there are still questions whether or not he can be a viable third option behind Anthony Davis and LeBron James and carry the Lakers second unit when the star duo are on the bench.
Kuzma — who was also reportedly on the block last season as the team looked to pry Davis from the Pelicans via trade — has grown used to the rumors.
“Nah, that’s for y’all to talk about,” Kuzma told the Los Angeles Times. “I’ve been through it multiple times and obviously I see it. But it don’t even matter at this point.”