Based on how the season has played out for the Los Angeles Lakers, it clear they made some mistakes regarding their roster. Outside of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, no player has consistently stepped up and become a third option. One player who supposed to be a third star for the team was Kyle Kuzma.
While he’s been a solid contributor, he’s way too inconsistent to be considered anything close to a star. Shortly before the season started, the Lakers handed Kuzma a sizeable contract extension. However, that didn’t stop them from considering trading him, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report:
Los Angeles did engage teams with packages involving Kyle Kuzma before March’s trade deadline, sources said. Kuzma begins a three-year, $39 million contract next season.
“They made a bunch of calls,” one assistant general manager told B/R. “They were very active.”
It’s possible the Lakers wanted to trade Kuzma but it just wouldn’t have been realistic. Per ESPN’s Bobby Marks, “players still on their rookie deals before an extension kicks in, the NBA counts their fourth-year salary as outgoing money and the average of the extension amount and last year of their rookie contract as incoming money.” That means the Lakers would’ve only opened up $3.5 million in cap space by trading Kuzma, making it very difficult to trade him a player that was making decent money.
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Lakers Targeted Spencer Dinwiddie
According to Fischer, the Lakers had a specific player in mind when considering a Kuzma trade:
In addition to their pursuit of Lowry, the Lakers were canvassing the league for opportunities to acquire a rookie-scale player who could perhaps bridge this James-Davis chapter and the inevitable post-James future. Before Spencer Dinwiddie’s injury, Los Angeles even inquired about adding Brooklyn’s reserve ball handler in exchange for Kuzma.
Dinwiddie is from Los Angeles so he’d make a ton of sense with the Lakers. However, he has a cap hit of $11,454,048 this season. A swap of Kuzma for Dinwiddie wouldn’t have been possible during the season. The Lakers would’ve had to include a player like Montrezl Harrell in order to make the money work.
Lakers Could Have an Easier Time Trading Kuzma This Offseason
Once the season ends, the Lakers won’t have anything in the way of trading Kuzma if that’s what they’d like to pursue. Unfortunately, it’s hard to imagine he’ll have a ton of value on the trade market. He wasn’t bad this season as he averaged 12.9 points a game but has been inconsistent.
At this point, it’s safe to say that’s he’s not going to be a star. He turns 26 in July and he’s likely close to his ceiling as a basketball player. Kuzma could be a nice piece to use as part of a trade for a star but he’s not going to get the Lakers anything great in return. The forward might be better off on a different team where he can start and have a more consistent role. He’s capable of being a guy who can average around 18 points a game on the right team.