The Los Angeles Lakers are heading into the offseason eyeing considerable roster changes. Kyle Kuzma‘s name continues to crop up as a possible part of those expected moves. It may lead the Lakers down a path Kuzma will not like.
Kyle Kuzma’s playoff struggles cap off an inconsistent season
After helping the Lakers secure a 17th NBA title, Kuzma struggled to find his footing in his fourth campaign.
The 25-year-old’s role fluctuated throughout the season due to significant injuries to LeBron James and Anthony Davis. In 68 games, he averaged 12.9 points and 6.1 rebounds on 44.3% shooting from the floor and 36.1% from beyond the arc.
Kuzma experienced his most productive stretch in March, averaging 16.4 points on 43.2% shooting along with 7.9 rebounds in 33.3 minutes per contest. He also excelled as a starting forward, averaging 17.1 points on 45.6% shooting from the floor and 40.8% from 3-point range in 10 games.
However, he struggled in the playoffs behind his shooting struggles, putting up 6.3 points on 23.5% shooting from the floor and 10.8% shooting from 3-point range. Kuzma notched double-digit postseason scoring outings, capped off by recording only two points in the series-ending Game 6 loss against the Phoenix Suns.
His playoff shortcomings further fuel the trade chatter, creating uncertainty concerning his long-term future in Los Angeles. It has quickly led the Lakers down a path he may not like.
Kyle Kuzma won’t like what the Lakers are planning next
Since Kuzma’s rookie season, he’s dealt with constant trade chatter concerning his future in Los Angeles.
The discussion only continues as he heads into the offseason after his fourth campaign. Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report recently reported the Lakers are exploring the trade market to gauge the league interest in the 25-year-old.
“Meanwhile, Los Angeles continues to gauge rival teams’ interest in Kyle Kuzma, sources told B/R, although [Dennis] Schroder does carry a higher trade value around the NBA,” Fischer wrote.
Los Angeles inked Kuzma to a three-year, $39 million extension last December, but it doesn’t mean the team will turn away an opportunity to improve the roster. It also helps that his $13 million salary is a significant amount to move off the books to free up more financial space to reconstruct the roster this upcoming offseason.
Kuzma’s value may have diminished value due to his playoff struggles. However, he still holds plenty of potential behind his skillset to become a significant offensive factor in the right scenario. Kuzma recently voiced that he could average 25 points a game and earn an All-Star selection behind a stable role.
The Lakers are more than comfortable holding onto the Utah product, but it solely depends on the type of offers the front office receives.
Los Angeles holds several tough offseason decisions ahead
Kuzma’s future is one of several situations the Lakers must address this summer.
Los Angeles holds only five players under contract through next season with him, James, Davis, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Marc Gasol. It leaves free agency decisions regarding Dennis Schroder, Andre Drummond, Talen Horton-Tucker, Alex Caruso, and Wesley Matthews.
The Lakers may dive deep into the trade market, specifically through sign-and-trade scenarios. Players such as Kyle Lowry and Spencer Dinwiddie have become prominent names mentioned in that realm. Meanwhile, a recent report suggested the team may pursue Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton.
Los Angeles will have several options to upgrade the roster around its star talent. It’s a matter of what the front office deems is best to push the team back into NBA title contention.
Contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.