Kyle Kuzma and Dennis Schroder were not big fans of one another and “feuded” throughout the Los Angeles Lakers season, per a new report citing league sources.
With Anthony Davis and LeBron James injured, Kuzma and Schroder played larger roles than expected during the Lakers season. However, the chemistry never developed and the two did not get along, per Jordan Schultz of ESPN, with the situation hitting a boiling point in the postseason.
“League sources say Dennis Schroder and Kyle Kuzma feuded throughout the season, with things going further south throughout the Lakers’ first-round series loss to Phoenix,” Schultz reported. “Interesting note to consider heading into the draft and free agency.”
Neither player has responded to the report yet, but Kuzma’s agent, Vin Sparacio, chimed in with an Instagram story, calling Schultz a clown.
Schroder is an unrestricted free agent, although he’s said he wants to run it back with the Lakers next season. Kuzma signed an extension last offseason but has had his name pop up in multiple trade rumors — a theme of his tenure with the Lakers. If the report from Schultz is to be believed, either one or both of the role players will not be returning next season.
Kyle Kuzma Sees Himself on Jayson Tatum’s Level
Kuzma has been an important bench player for the Lakers when the roster is at full health, also functioning as a spot starter when needed. He’s learned how to contribute while playing a smaller role on offense, picking up his game on the defensive end and providing hustle plays.
Kuzma bounced in and out of the starting lineup last season with the Lakers dealing with a bevy of injuries. He started 32 of 68 games — the most since his second year in the league. Kuzma averaged 12.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, shooting just over 36% from 3-point land.
At just 25 years old, Kuzma still has a lot of potential and could develop into a solid starter in the NBA — or even an All-Star caliber talent if you ask him. Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus said on a recent episode of the Lakerside Chats podcast that Kuzma views himself on a similar level as Jayson Tatum — a two-time All-Star and centerpiece of the Celtics roster.
“I think that Kyle Kuzma perceives himself as someone like Jayson Tatum,” Pincus said. “I think that’s how he views himself. And that’s great. You should view yourself as one of the best young players in the league.”
Kuzma said what he wants going forward is a consistent role, which will include handling the ball more.
“My biggest thing is I just want to play within a consistent role,” Kuzma told Tyler Conway of Bleacher Report. “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.”
Schroder Seeking Large Payday in Free Agency
Schroder has a chance to cash in this offseason as a free agent, although the end of his season didn’t exactly boost his stock. He averaged 15.4 points, 5.8 assists and 1.1 steals per game during his first season with the Lakers. However, the consistency from Schroder as both a playmaker and scorer was not always there and he had a tough postseason. In Games 5 and 6 against the Suns he shot 3-of-22 from the field and scored just eight combined points.
Schroder is reportedly seeking a contract in the range of $100-120 million. It’s still to be determined whether or not the Lakers want to spend that kind of money on Schroder. The Lakers have been linked to veteran guards like Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul and Damian Lillard this offseason as a possible remedy to the situation.