Kyle Kuzma is no stranger to trade rumors and with the Los Angeles Lakers hungry for another title shot, his name has popped up again, landing on a list of players likely to be dealt this offseason.
Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckey included Kuzma on a list of four players “likeliest to be traded this offseason,” citing his talent, age and salary as factors that make him a prime target to be dealt.
Status quo won’t cut it for the Lakers. Not when they’re fighting against the clock to make another title push with 36-year-old LeBron James at the helm. Their roster needs bulking up, and given their limited collection of assets—among other issues, they only have two first-round picks to put in trade talks (this year’s No. 22 and the 2027 selection)—Kuzma might be their best bridge to an impact addition.
Kuzma has been a consistent figure in trade talks basically since his debut in purple and gold. It’s something he said he’s grown to tolerate and deal with.
“I really don’t care, honestly,” he said. “You can’t control it. If I get traded, I get traded. It don’t matter. I’m still going to play basketball. I’m still going to play the game I love. I’m still going to be paid.”
Lakers Reportedly Tried to Trade Kuzma at Deadline
The Lakers reportedly tried to trade Kuzma at the deadline last year, per Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer.
“I think they’ve been trying to move Kuzma for a long time,” an assistant general manager told Fischer. “His defense has always been questionable, and I think his early success has become a bit of fool’s gold.”
Such a trade would have been quite the task for the Lakers to get done due to the poison pill provision that was attached to Kuzma thanks to his new deal. For salary-matching purposes, if a player is traded between the time his rookie contract is extended and the following July 1 (when that extension takes effect), the player’s incoming value for the receiving team is the average of his current-year salary and the annual salary in each year of his extension, per Hoops Rumors.
Kuzma Could Shine Elsewhere
Kuzma will be 26 at the start of next season and is on a reasonable deal that he signed just before the start of the season. He’s shown improvement on the defense and has always had a solid offensive skill set, especially when given the opportunity. With LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the floor, the opportunities haven’t always been there for Kuzma like they were early in the career.
On top of that, Kuzma has moved to mostly a bench role with the Lakers, which he has admitted took some time to adjust to. At this point, Kuzma is just seeking a consistent role moving forward in his NBA career — whether that be with the Lakers or somewhere else.
“My biggest thing is I just want to play within a consistent role,” Kuzma told Bleacher Report’s Tyler Conway. “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.”