Kuzma’s first post back was a commercial for Puma, which might signal that the whole deactivation was part of the campaign. The commercial is based on the negative tweets directed at Kuzma.
“To whom much is given, much is expected,” Kuzma said. “But no one talks about the mental toll of expectation. Yeah, I hear you. I hear the chatter. ‘He’s not good enough. He’s not worth it. Trade him.’
“Nowadays, everyone wants to be a critic. But here you go. Let’s take a walk in my shoes.”
Kuzma then sends a shoutout to those who have doubted him.
“For every failure, for every trial, for every negative comment, thanks for the motivation,” Kuzma said.
Kyle Kuzma Was Target of Criticism During Year
Kuzma was a target of criticism during the Lakers championship season, but it’d be hard to call his third season a failure. He took on a different role thanks to an improved roster, coming off the bench as a key sixth man. He averaged 12.8 points and 4.5 rebounds coming off the bench, playing 25 minutes per game.
That was down from the more than 30 minutes and nearly 19 points per game he averaged during the 2018-19 season, but Kuzma was playing on a championship-level team last season with Anthony Davis and LeBron James taking up the lion’s share of minutes at the forward position. Despite his bench role, many viewed Kuzma as the third option on the Lakers. However, he didn’t truly fit into that role.
“It’s not about points. It’s about just trying to win,” Kuzma said during the year. “Obviously everybody’s got to sacrifice and that’s just for the betterment of the team. When I have scoring opportunities, I take them, attack them and if it doesn’t happen it doesn’t happen. It’s just the way with how our team is constructed and I just got to find a way, and find ways to contribute to winning basketball.”
Kyle Kuzma Has Grown Used to Trade Rumors
Aside from the criticism, Kuzma’s name had a steady presence in trade rumors both last season and this offseason. The Lakers made some moves, but have been able to keep Kuzma on the roster. Kuzma said during last season that being apart of those rumors comes with being on the roster for the purple and gold.
“I mean, just got to just not really worry about it,” Kuzma told reporters. “For me, I’ve been in trade rumors ever since I came here. I think that’s just a thing that happens when you’re a Laker. You’re always in trade rumors, especially in this time, so it doesn’t really matter at the end of the day. Just control what you can control.”
As for his future in Los Angeles, general manager Rob Pelinka gave some insight while speaking to the media earlier this month.
“In terms of Kuz, since we drafted him he’s been terrific, we’ve all seen his growth. As you guys know, the way the rules work, he has next season under contract with the Lakers and he’s extension eligible this offseason,” Pelinka told reporters. “He has great representation, and when the time is right we’ll sit down and speak with them.”
At just 25 years old, Kuzma still has all the potential to be a key piece for the franchise going forward, especially considering he’s being mentored by LeBron James and Anthony Davis.