The Los Angeles Lakers season ended in disappointment, and behind-the-scenes drama could be contributing to the subpar play on the court. Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd was discussing the Lakers’ chances of landing Damian Lillard and revealed an interesting anecdote about LeBron James’ relationship with Kyle Kuzma.
“The Lakers think they have a shot at him [Lillard],” the analyst explained on The Colin Cowherd Podcast. “That’s sort of Los Angeles delusion. The Los Angeles Lakers have players, KCP is a solid player, hot and cold, not what Portland wants. Kyle Kuzma — LeBron doesn’t get along with him. They’d love to move him, he’s kind of expensive. It’s not the kind of contract you can’t move, but it’s not necessarily team-friendly considering he disappears in big spots for the Lakers.”
Cowherd went on to detail some of the other challenges about the Lakers roster. He described Dennis Schroder as a player who “doesn’t get along with a lot of people.” The Lakers face a difficult decision as Schroder will be a free agent this offseason.
“Dennis Schroder is a guy the Lakers will probably re-sign him, but he’s a difficult, difficult player, I’m told,” Cowherd continued. “Doesn’t get along with a lot of people, can be very difficult to coach, and Frank Vogel’s finding that out.”
Kuzma: ‘I’m Really Excited to Attack This Summer & Continue to Get Better’
If there is tension between James and Kuzma, the Lakers superstar does a good job hiding it. James has been complimentary of Kuzma throughout his career, so it would be a surprise if Cowherd’s report is true.
“It’s all about growth, and the game has just slowed down every year for him,” James assessed Kuzma’s game in a March 2021 interview with the Associated Press. “He knows his role with this team and he does it to a high level, and tonight was another example of that.”
Kuzma is coming off a disappointing performance in the Lakers’ first-round playoff loss to the Phoenix Suns. The forward averaged 6.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists while shooting a dismal 17.4% from behind the three-point line. Kuzma admitted there is a lot for him to work on this offseason.
“Kyle Kuzma on wearing various hats this season: ‘I don’t care about nothing else but winning … doing whatever the organization and team, and Frank wanted me to do,’” Spectrum SportsNet’s Mike Trudell tweeted. “He added: ‘I’m really excited to attack this summer and continue to get better.’”
‘Kuzma Already Looks Like He’s on His Way Out,’ Says Insider
It is early in the Lakers’ offseason, but the forward has already been the subject of trade rumors. Kuzma is one of the few players remaining on the Lakers roster as the team could have as many as 10 free agents. The Lakers forward is set to begin the first season of a three-year, $39 million contract extension giving him a $13 million salary for the next three seasons. The Undefeated’s Marc Spears recently suggested a Kuzma for Kemba Walker trade, noting the Lakers forward “looks like he’s on his way out.”
“Man, I can’t see Kemba playing there,” Spears noted on ESPN’s The Jump, via TalkBasket.net. “If I’m the Lakers, man, why not try to go after Kemba. To me it makes a lot of sense. Kuzma already looks like he’s on his way out.”
Whether or not there is tension between James and Kuzma, the forward is going to continue to be mentioned in trade rumors. Kuzma’s deal is reasonable when he is playing at a high level, but his recent inconsistencies make the contract look a lot worse. USA Today’s Mark Medina could see Kuzma getting traded this offseason.
“No, James and Davis won’t and should not go anywhere,” Medina wrote on June 4. “But can’t see why the Lakers would have any interest in keeping Dennis Schroder, Andre Drummond and Montrezl Harrell. The Lakers should keep Alex Caruso and Talen Horton-Tucker since they’re mostly reliable role players. But expect Kyle Kuzma to be attached in trade talks considering his team-friendly extension and his failure to have season-long consistency.”