With the NBA offseason about to start getting interesting, the Los Angeles Lakers are going to have some big decisions on their hands. One thing to keep an eye on is what they might do with Kyle Kuzma. The hope was that he would develop into the third star behind LeBron James and Anthony Davis but that wasn’t the case.
Kuzma showed improvements on defense but only averaged 12.8 points a game, which was a career worse. He was mentioned in a number of trade rumors prior to the deadline last season but a move never happened. Kuzma is heading into the final year of his contract so the Lakers need to figure out what to do with him. They could trade him or risk letting him walk in free agency next year. According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, Kuzma is expecting a big payday.
“Then you got Kuzma, who is extension eligible, still has a year left on his contract but is extension eligible,” Windhorst said on the Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective podcast. “And from what I understand, [he] is expecting a sizable deal, hoping for a sizable deal.
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Is Kuzma Worth a Big-Money Contract?
Kuzma is allowed to hope for anything but a big contract extension probably isn’t on the table right now. He’s a good player but it remains to be seen if the Lakers see him as a part of the franchise’s future. They clearly liked him enough to keep him out of the Anthony Davis trade. However, he put together his weakest season as a pro.
He’s still young and has potential but he’s not getting a starting job in Los Angeles anytime soon. He’s much more effective when he’s in the starting lineup but Davis isn’t going to play center so Kuzma can start. He could still develop into an elite bench player but that seems like a longshot. The Lakers would be wise to try and trade him before he loses even more value.
Kuzma Could Get Traded This Offseason
Kuzma isn’t going to get an extension this offseason. If the Lakers did that, they wouldn’t be able to trade him until next year. They’re going to want to keep that option open. Plus, Kuzma would be a restricted free agent after next season which would give the Lakers a lot of leverage in trying to keep him.
The most likely outcome is that Los Angeles uses Kuzma in a trade to add a more established star. According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, there are multiple teams that are interested in trading for the young power forward. That works in the Lakers’ favor as they have bigger needs at guard. If they can use Kuzma to land a play like Derrick Rose, Chris Paul or Dennis Schroder, they should jump at the chance. Kuzma is better suited to join a young team that’s in the midst of a rebuild. He could shine in that setting.