Kyle Kuzma has grown accustomed to his name getting tossed around in trade rumors as speculation swirls around the Los Angeles Lakers and possible moves the team could make before the deadline.
But the noise doesn’t seem to be bothering the Lakers 24-year-old forward. Instead, he’s embracing it.
Following the Lakers 129-102 walloping of the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night, Kuzma was asked about what he’s learned being involved in trade talks throughout his career. He recalled some advice Lakers legend Kobe Bryant allegedly gave him before his untimely death last month.
“Kobe always used to tell me if they aren’t talking about you, you should be worried,” Kuzma said, via The Athletic’s Bill Oram. “And I’m the talk of the town.”
He’s not wrong. Kuzma has very much been the talk of the town when it comes to the Lakers trade rumors. After the Lakers delivered a massive package to pry Anthony Davis out of New Orleans, Kuzma is the most valuable trade chip the team has left if they want to acquire a championship-caliber piece to add to the roster.
But there’s a good argument to be made that the Lakers should not be trying to mess with a roster that has reeled off a 38-11 record this season and is sitting on top of the Western Conference.
Kyle Kuzma Showing Extra ‘Pop’ Lately
Kuzma has shown off his potential in spurts this season, with some strong offensive showings. However, 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. He’s averaged 13.1 points and 4.4 rebounds in 25 minutes per game this season.
Kuzma has had a double-double in two of the Lakers’ last three games, including an 18 point, 12 rebound performance on Tuesday night.
“He’s just had a little extra pop the last few games, and it showed up in his mindset,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said, via Greg Beacham of The Associated Press.
Kuzma said previously that the trade talks used to consume him this time of year, but he’s learned to get by.
“I consumed it more last year,” he said. “This year is different I don’t care at all, but last year it was new and foreign, so it was like more of a can’t-really-escape-it thing. But for me it’s a little bit easier now. I don’t really have my Twitter like that. I don’t really use it.”
Kings, Knicks Interested in Kyle Kuzma Trade
Teams that have been rumored to be interested in Kuzma are the Sacramento Kings and New York Knicks.
The Lakers reportedly turned down an offer from the Kings that included Nemanja Bjelica and an undisclosed draft pick, since it’s assumed L.A. would want guard Bogdan Bogdanovic in return if a deal were to go down. Kuzma spent his first two seasons playing for Luke Walton, now the Kings head coach.
Shams Charania of The Athletic also reported on Tuesday that the Knicks have had “exploratory conversations” about the Lakers forward, although it’s unclear what the Lakers would want back for a player like Kuzma in that deal.
Charania said on the HoopsHype Podcast with Alex Kennedy that it would take a “high-end rotation player” to land Kuzma.
“I haven’t gotten a sense that they’re actively trying to shop him or get rid of him. His low-cost contract makes any deal hard. My sense has always been that the Lakers would only move Kuzma for a high-end rotation player.”
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