Kyle Kuzma is not holding back about the Los Angeles Lakers’ struggles this season. Kuzma averaged just 6.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists in the Lakers’ first-round playoff loss against the Suns. During an interview with Bleacher Report’s Tyler Conway, Kuzma noted he sees himself as a player who can become an All-Star but cited his “inconsistent role” as part of the reason for his struggles this season.
“I definitely can,” Kuzma noted. “I definitely believe that, too. I don’t really care what nobody thinks or says. I know myself, and I know my ability. It’s hard to be consistent in an inconsistent role. I’m excited for a more consistent space next year.”
Conway admitted there is a sense of irritation when Kuzma discusses his role last season. Kuzma averaged 21.6 minutes in the playoffs, well below his season average of 28.7 per contest. He expanded on why he believes a “consistent role” will help his game reach the next level.
“My biggest thing is I just want to play within a consistent role,” Kuzma explained. “If I have that ability, I’ll be able to showcase what I can really do. There were parts of this year—and even anywhere else in my career—when I’m in a consistent space, I’m out there handling the ball, making teammates better, scoring, shooting, defending, rebounding. I think if I’m in that space, I’ll be good.”
Kuzma Once Again Hinted at Chemistry Issues on the Lakers
Kuzma has been outspoken about the success of the Suns citing the team’s chemistry as a big reason they are in the NBA Finals. The Lakers forward referenced last year’s Lakers’ chemistry as “unbelievable” implying that the team did not have the same feel this season.
“I saw them [Suns] as a potential Finals team just off their chemistry,” Kuzma said. “Last year with us, we had unbelievable chemistry and everybody kind of jelled and knew their role and had fun doing it, had fun playing with each other. I noticed playing them, that same type of feel. Everybody was communicating, talking, having fun, smiling with each other. Usually, when you have a team connected like that, you win big.”
Kuzma Continues to be the Subject of Trade Rumors
Kuzma is leaving little doubt that he is unhappy which is only going to fuel trade rumors, even more, this offseason. Lakers head coach Frank Vogel was complimentary of Kuzma throughout the season.
“He’s been great. Kuz has been great all year,” Vogel explained in April, per Silver Screen and Roll. “The positivity that he brings to our team, doing whatever the team needs for us to get Ws, and staying aggressive and making the right reads. That’s the biggest thing with him. We know he can score, but we want him to make the right basketball play each time down.”
Praises aside, Kuzma likely represents the Lakers’ most tradeable asset which points to the forward having a good chance of being dealt this offseason. Yet, Kuzma has been the subject of trade rumors throughout his career but has remained in Los Angeles. USA Today’s Mark Medina reported in June that the Lakers are likely going to explore trade talks involving Kuzma.
“No, James and Davis won’t and should not go anywhere,” Medina noted. “But can’t see why the Lakers would have any interest in keeping Dennis Schroder, Andre Drummond and Montrezl Harrell. The Lakers should keep Alex Caruso and Talen Horton-Tucker since they’re mostly reliable role players. But expect Kyle Kuzma to be attached in trade talks considering his team-friendly extension and his failure to have season-long consistency.”