Lakers Urged to Shop Forward Before Trade Deadline

Kyle Kuzma of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Getty Kyle Kuzma of the Los Angeles Lakers.

With the trade deadline approaching, rumors are starting to heat up on what players could potentially be on the move, including a familiar name in Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma.

The latest bit of trade speculation comes from Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz, who urged the Lakers to see what Kuzma could bring back in a deal.

“The only player remotely worth shopping is Kuzma, as the 25-year-old is now under a reasonable three-year, $39 million extension (including the player option) that kicks in next season. He’s one of the few attractive trade pieces left on L.A.’s roster, even if the Lakers need him as a scorer and floor-spacer off the bench.”

What’s not mentioned is that because the Lakers signed Kuzma to an extension while he was still on his rookie deal, the team would have to thread a thin needle to make a deal work. As ESPN’s Bobby Marks broke down with the deal was signed, Kuzma’s extension has a “poison pill” restriction.

For trade purposes, the current contract of $3.6 million will count as outgoing salary. For the incoming salary of the acquiring team, the average of the last year of his contract and extension is used — $10.9 million.

Kyle Kuzma “At Peace” With Role on Lakers

Kuzma struggled with adjusting to his role off the bench last season, something he openly admitted. He played fewer minutes and wasn’t relied upon as much for scoring.

But it’s been a different story this year for Kuzma, who is playing winning basketball when he’s on the court, doing the little things and churning out hustle plays.

Kuzma is averaging 10.1 points in 24 minutes per game, shooting the ball at a 43.9% clip from the field and 39.3% from beyond the arc. He’s also contributing 5.6 rebounds per game and has stepped up on the defensive end.

“I feel like he’s at peace with what’s being asked of him, and is going out there and killing it,” head coach Frank Vogel told reporters. “What we talked about a lot last year, he’s being a star in his role. Him coming in and knocking down 3s, and making the right play offensively, sometimes that’s going to lead to a high scoring night, sometimes it’s going to lead to creating for others

“Guys don’t always have that ability to play hard like that naturally. Sometimes you have to pull it out of people, but you don’t have to pull it out of Kuz. That’s just the way he plays. He’s been a big part of our culture here the last two years.”

Derrick Rose Reportedly on Way to New York Knicks

The Lakers have had their eyes on a trade for Derrick Rose the last few seasons, but it looks like the former MVP will end up with the New York Knicks, per multiple reports.

The Lakers had a much larger need for guard depth last season, but the emergence of Alex Caruso as a key role player and offseason moves for Dennis Schroder and Wesley Matthews have them well set up this season.

The trade deadline is on March 25, but the Lakers will likely be active shoppers in the buyout market as well.

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