It’s starting to seem like the Los Angeles Lakers don’t really have a clear idea of what they want to do with Kyle Kuzma. They made it a point to keep him out of the Anthony Davis trade last offseason, but as soon as it looked like he wasn’t fitting in very well, they started dangling him on the trade market. Now that he’s entering a contract year, the Lakers are going to need to figure out their plans for him soon.
While there’s been talk about them giving him a contract extension, a trade appears to be on the table. According to Legion Hoops, the Lakers have spoken to the New York Knicks about a deal involving Kuzma.
The Knicks and Lakers had dialogue on a trade that would send Kyle Kuzma to New York.
The teams spoke again “recently” – per league source.
— Ross 🏀 (@LegionHoopsRoss) November 17, 2020
The Knicks have been fighting to regain relevance for years. Kuzma may not be a superstar right now but he does have star potential. His experience on a championship team could also be beneficial on a young Knicks roster. However, New York doesn’t appear to have a lot of interesting assets to offer the Lakers.
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What Knicks Could Offer Lakers
Despite missing the playoffs in each of the last seven seasons, the Knicks haven’t done a great job of accumulating young talent. This means that the Lakers should be cautious before dealing Kuzma to New York. RJ Barrett is easily their most intriguing young player, but he’s a building block for them. He’s not getting traded. They could send the Lakers Kevin Knox, but he only averaged 6.4 points per game last season. He’s not nearly as valuable as Kuzma.
The Lakers could be interested in reuniting with Julius Randle. He averaged 19.5 points a game and 9.7 rebounds, and he had some success playing behind Anthony Davis in New Orleans two seasons ago. Perhaps the Lakers want to bring him in to serve as Davis’ backup. They could certainly do worse than Randle.
Los Angeles could also be looking to get back into the draft. They traded away their only pick in the Dennis Schroder deal. They’ve been linked to a number of prospects and could still be interested. Kuzma would probably be worth the No. 23 pick the Knicks just recently acquired.
Does Kuzma Start the Season as a Laker?
It’s impossible to know how the Lakers truly feel about Kuzma. They clearly like him enough to hold onto him this long but it’s pretty telling he’s been involved in a number of trade rumors this offseason. That said, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Schroder deal is the only notable trade Los Angeles makes this offseason.
They still have a big need for a 3-point shooter and they could use Kuzma to land one. However, there seems to be a decent shot that he’s on the Lakers for the start of the season. Now, that doesn’t mean he’ll finish the year on the team. The situation is very fluid and the Lakers could realize they have some holes once the season starts. If that’s the case, Kuzma will likely be the main player who becomes available on the trade market.