The Los Angeles Lakers are heading towards an interesting offseason, not just with their own free agents but players who are under contract for next season as well. USA Today’s Mark Medina expects the Lakers to explore trading Kyle Kuzma while also allowing some key free agents to walk.
“No, James and Davis won’t and should not go anywhere,” Medina noted. “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.”
The counter-argument to Medina’s point on Dennis Schroder is the Lakers do not have the cap space to sign another comparable player in free agency. The advantage of Schroder is the Lakers have his Bird Rights which allows the team to go over the cap to re-sign the point guard.
Outside of LeBron & A.D., Kuzma Represents the Lakers Most Tradeable Player
Kuzma represents one of the few tradeable assets the Lakers have given his reasonable three-year, $39 million contract as he is set to make $13 million during the 2021-22 season. The Lakers forward was underwhelming in the team’s first-round series against the Suns.
Kuzma averaged 6.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 21.6 minutes per game. This was well below his season averages of 12.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists this season. The Lakers desperately needed Kuzma and the team’s other role players to step up with LeBron James and Anthony Davis both battling injuries. Kuzma noted he heads into the offseason motivated to make improvements on his game.
“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.'”
NBA Front Office Exec.: ‘They’ve Been Trying to Move Kuzma for a Long Time’
This is not the first time Kuzma has been the subject of trade rumors, but the Lakers’ first-round exit could be something that pushes the team to make major changes this offseason. Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported the Lakers explored offers for Kuzma earlier this season, and one player the team showed an interest in acquiring was Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie.
“Los Angeles did engage teams with packages involving Kyle Kuzma before March’s trade deadline, sources said,” Fischer detailed. “Kuzma begins a three-year, $39 million contract next season. …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.”
Popular thought around the NBA is the Lakers have been open to moving Kuzma for some time. The question is what they would be able to land in return for Kuzma, especially coming off of his disappointing playoff performance.
“I think they’ve been trying to move Kuzma for a long time,” an assistant general manager told Bleacher Report. “His defense has always been questionable, and I think his early success has become a bit of fool’s gold.