Lakers Urged to Trade for $47 Million Star Forward

Lakers GM Rob Pelinka

Getty Lakers GM Rob Pelinka

The Los Angeles Lakers have been urged to trade for a $47 million star forward.

On December 5, Cuffs The Legend — who is LeBron James’ friend and an NBA analyst — tweeted that the Lakers should bring back Kyle Kuzma, who plays for the Washington Wizards.

Kuzma spent the first four years of his career with the Lakers. The swingman averaged 15.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 276 games while shooting 44.8% from the field, 33.8% from beyond the arc and 72.7% from the free-throw line.

Kuzma was part of the 2020 championship team. The 27-year-old averaged 8.5 points and 2.8 rebounds in the 2020 Finals against the Miami Heat, a series the Lakers won in six games at the Walt Disney World bubble. Kuzma signed a three-year, $39 million rookie extension with Los Angeles in December 2020. He was traded to the Wizards in August 2021 in the blockbuster Russell Westbrook trade.

A Michigan native, Kuzma is averaging a career-high 20.6 points this season for the Wizards, who lost to the Lakers on December 4. Kuzma is making $13 million and will have accumulated more than $47 million in his career once his contract ends following the 2023-24 season.

How Can the Lakers Get Kuzma?

The Lakers are shopping Patrick Beverley and his $13 million expiring contract. Kendrick Nunn is also on the trade block. Under CBA rules, Los Angeles could trade Beverley, Nunn and draft picks to Washington for Kuzma and Corey Kispert. However, the Wizards probably wouldn’t do that deal since they are “still focused on making a playoff push,” according to Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus.

The Lakers could always trade Westbrook back to the Wizards in a deal involving Kuzma, who never wanted to be traded by Los Angeles, league sources told Dave McMenamin of ESPN reported on November 28 there is a belief shared by leaders in the Lakers’ locker room that the team is only a couple of players away from turning the group into a legitimate contender. Kuzma’s shooting and playmaking skills could help the purple and gold.

“There is belief shared by leaders in the Lakers’ locker room, sources said, that the team is only a couple of players away from turning this group into a legitimate contender,” McMenamin reported. “But acquiring the right players could take multiple trades.”

Kuzma is shooting 45.9% from the floor and 30.5% on 3-pointers this season. He’s 34th in the league in points per game.

Report: Lakers Expected to Make Trade by Mid-January

On Episode 8 of “That’s OD,” McMenamin said the Lakers are expected to make a trade by mid-January. Los Angeles is 10-12 on the season and 8-2 over its last 10 games.

“Talking to people around the Lakers organization the last week or so, I am convinced that the Lakers will make a trade or trades to improve this team,” McMenamin said. “I think the figuring out period, prove it to us period has passed. They have proven it. They’ve seen Anthony Davis playing at this bubble level. They’ve seen LeBron James’ commitment on the court and off the court. And they’ve also seen some of these younger pieces have started to fit around those stars that it is worth it to trade. They’d prefer to only trade one of those two picks, but certainly, it’s worth it to trade some of the current salary that they have, attach a pick or two picks to it and get this team better. I certainly anticipate by mid-January, if not sooner, we’re talking about an imminent trade.”

The Lakers went 102-52 when James and Kuzma played and 62-27 when Anthony Davis and Kuzma played.

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