The Los Angeles Lakers have seen Kyle Kuzma grow from a late first-round pick and Summer League sensation into a key piece of their rotation during a championship chase.
However, the time is approaching for the Lakers to start thinking about an extension for Kuzma, who is eligible for one this summer. It might not be as urgent as some other matters — like an extension of Anthony Davis — because the Lakers could let the process play out for two more years with restricted free agency, seeing how Kuzma develops his game under some more sturdy circumstances.
But as former NBA exec John Hollinger pointed out in a Q&A on The Athletic, the idea of Kuzma has been better than the reality for the most part this season in his role off the bench.
“I’m worried that Kuzma’s perception of his value is dramatically higher than his actual basketball value,” Hollinger told Anthony Slater. “My just-out-of-beta valuation formula has him pegged at worth just $6.7 million a year in a four-year extension beginning in 2021-22, which I suspect is a dramatically lower number than any of his fans had in mind.”
Hollinger added that he sees the Lakers playing out the situation, but has his doubts that the team ends up inking Kuzma to an extension following the season because of all the cap hurdles they’ll have to work out down the line with LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the roster. And there’s also the fact that the cap itself going forward is a bit uncertain due to the financial uncertainty the league is facing.
“I’d be really surprised if an extension happened,” Hollinger said.
Kyle Kuzma Believes His Time is Coming With Lakers
Kuzma is the lone leftover piece from the “baby Laker” days, but has been given the opportunity to compete for a championship in the purple and gold. Kuzma has admitted moving to a bench role with reduced minutes wasn’t ideal to start the year, but he’s now embracing it.
“I just take it with a progression mindset and mentality of trying to get better every day,” Kuzma told reporters this week. “I focus on what I can control, and my time is coming.”
Kuzma pointed out the career trajectory of Clippers star Kawhi Leonard as a reason to not be discouraged.
“I just look at Kawhi Leonard, for example,” Kuzma noted during a conference call. “He was a Spur for four or five years — whatever it was — waited his turn behind [Tim] Duncan, [Manu] Ginobli and [Tony] Parker, and then did his thing.”
Kyle Kuzma Focused on Basketball Only in Orlando
The NBA has provided some entertainment inside the bubble, but it has become evident that many players — especially those on the Lakers roster — aren’t too interested. Kuzma revealed that he has been mostly staying in his room since arriving in Orlando.
“There’s nothing but basketball for me here,” Kuzma told reporters, per SB Nation’s Harrison Faigen. “I’m not really interested in doing a lot of other things.”