Despite being the subject of trade rumors for almost a year now, Kyle Kuzma has been able to stick with the Los Angeles Lakers. There was talk that both sides were discussing a contract extension as he was set to be a restricted free agent once this upcoming season ended. It didn’t seem like anything would materialize soon but for the first time in his career, it looks like Kuzma will have security with the Lakers.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Kuzma has signed a three-year contract extension worth $40 million. He’ll have a player option for the 2023-2024 season.
Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma has agreed to a three-year, $40M contract extension, including a player option on 2023-2024 season, sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 20, 2020
Considering the fact that Kuzma struggled last season and he’s the team’s most valuable trade asset, it’s a bit surprising that the Lakers decided to extend him now. They clearly believe he’s in for a much productive season this year. Perhaps the certainly that he’ll be able to play a whole season without having to worry about trade rumors will help him perform at a higher level.
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Anthony Davis & LeBron James React to News
The Lakers have a had very busy offseason. Prior to signing Kuzma, they handed big contracts to LeBron James, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Anthony Davis. While they did add some new players, it’s clear they wanted to lock up several key contributors. Davis was happy about the news they’re keeping Kuzma.
“I’m glad the Lakers were able to work some out with him,” Davis said Sunday, via Ryan Ward.
LeBron also had a strong reaction.
— LeBron James (@KingJames) December 20, 2020
Right now, the Lakers are a very attractive destination so it’s not a surprise players want to stay with the team. Kuzma may be coming off a down year but he’s shown in the past that he can be an impact player.
What to Expect for Kuzma This Season?
Through his first two seasons, Kuzma proved to be a very strong scorer. Last year, he showed improvements on defense but his scoring went down. If he’s going to be worth the money the Lakers just handed him, he needs to prove that he can play well on both ends.
In the first three preseason games, Kuzma looked very good. He averaged 22 points a game. However, he didn’t put up great numbers in the fourth preseason game as he only scored four points in 27 minutes. He would show up and play well at times last year but then would take a dip in production. It’s hard to know exactly what the Lakers might be getting from the forward this year.
LeBron believes that Kuzma is in for a breakout year. That’s certainly possible but the Lakers have so much talent, it’s going to be difficult for the forward to get a lot of chances to make plays. The team hasn’t revealed its starting lineup quite yet but there has been talk about Kuzma playing one of the wing positions. That would certainly be interesting and could prove to be the best spot for him.