Kuzma is coming off a rough postseason performance and finds himself yet again caught up in trade speculation. Kuzma inked a three-year contract extension worth $40 million prior to last season, which made him relatively hard to trade due to the poison pill restriction that came with his new deal.
With that now out of the way, Kuzma is against being mentioned in the rumors and his latest move could be a reaction to that.
Sure, it’s not major news, but the question is why. With 5.1 million followers, everything Kuzma does on social media is analyzed and dissected, so it’s obvious he was looking for some sort of reaction.
Kuzma’s teammate Dennis Schroder did something similar prior to the Lakers getting bounced from the playoffs. The move did not inspire great confidence about his return to the team.
Kyle Kuzma Ready to ‘Attack’ Offseason
Kuzma averaged 12.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists last season, improving as a defensive asset for the Lakers. Kuzma hit his 3-pointers at a 36% clip last season but that plummeted to 17.4% in the postseason. He averaged just 6.3 points and 3.8 as the Lakers got bounced by the Suns in six games.
“Obviously I can’t speak for everyone but, you know, it was a tough series particularly for me, shooting the ball, after having probably a career year shooting the three this year for me,” Kuzma said during his exit interview. “You know, it’s just tough, ending the season that way after putting in a lot of work and being confident in that but, you know, it’s always beauty in the struggle and ugliness in success.
“So, I am just really excited to attack this summer and continue to get better. It’s just unfortunate, maybe if we hit a few shots and we don’t have injuries, we’re not having this conversation right. But that’s the name of the game and that’s what life dictated for us.”
There’s no lack of reminders for Kuzma that he has to get back in the gym. His Instagram comments are nearly all urging him to start working on his game or he’ll end up in China playing for the Shanghai Sharks.
Kyle Kuzma Felt He Played ‘Winning Basketball’
At 25, Kuzma is the longest-tenured player on the Lakers. He was drafted by the team in 2017 and took on a large role out of the gate on some bad teams. Kuzma’s career year came during the 2018-19 season, averaging a tick over 33 minutes per game and almost 19 points per game. The Lakers finished that season 37-45, 10th in Western Conference.
Kuzma took a step back once Anthony Davis came on board, which he struggled to embrace at first. But the Utah product feels like he’s come around and played “winning” basketball this season, doing anything to help his team win — even if that doesn’t show up in the box score.
“I’ve been here the longest,” Kuzma said, per Silver Screen and Roll. “I’ve been through a bunch of different eras here: a rebuilding stage, LeBron’s first years here and figuring out how to win championships, and then this year. So, I’ve seen a lot, been through a lot, wore a lot of different hats during my tenure here, and I’m excited to see what the future brings for us this offseason.
“Only speaking for myself, I think this year I made incredible strides becoming a winning player, making the right play, being a real, valuable asset on the defensive end and I’ve got a lot of growth in me. I can’t wait to get there.”
We’ll see what happens this offseason and if the Lakers front office agrees with Kuzma’s assessment of his game.