The Los Angeles Lakers are heading into a crucial offseason highlighted by the necessity to improve the roster around LeBron James and Anthony Davis. It’s continued to crop up Kyle Kuzma in numerous trade rumors. However, the Lakers have quickly learned the stark reality involving Kuzma‘s value around the league.
Kyle Kuzma experiences difficult 2020-21 season
In Kuzma’s fourth NBA season, he struggled to find any consistent rhythm.
The 25-year-old finished the campaign averaging 12.9 points on 44.3% shooting from the floor and 36.1% from 3-point range, along with 6.1 rebounds in 28.7 minutes per contest. He played 68 out of the possible 72 regular-season games while making 32 starts.
His role fluctuated throughout the year due to significant injury issues with James and Davis missing extended time. He experienced a strong stretch of production in March, averaging 16.4 points on 43.2% shooting along with 7.9 rebounds in 33.3 minutes per contest.
However, he struggled mightily in the playoffs, becoming an offensive non-factor behind his shooting and scoring woes. He averaged 6.3 points on 23.5% shooting and only 10.8% shooting from beyond the arc. It includes tallying only two double-digit scoring outings, while his porous postseason showing was capped off by scoring just two points in the series-ending Game 6 loss against the Phoenix Suns.
Kuzma’s struggles have once again led to his name becoming mentioned prominently in trade chatter. However, this time around, it looks like things finally hit a stark reality regarding his status around the league.
Lakers are quickly learning the frustrating reality with Kyle Kuzma
After another inconsistent season, Kuzma enters the summer filled with uncertainty concerning his future in Los Angeles.
The 25-year-old inked a three-year, $39 million extension less than a year ago, but it hasn’t stabilized his standing within the organization. Instead, his struggles throughout this past campaign fuel the intense speculation that he may have played his final game in a Lakers uniform.
However, the front office is struggling to find a team willing to acquire him. According to Michael Scotto of Hoops Hype, the Indiana Pacers recently turned down a pre-draft trade involving this year’s 13th overall pick in exchange for Kuzma and the 22nd overall selection.
The Pacers may have no interest in moving down in this year’s draft, but it also demonstrates that not even another first-round selection paired with Kuzma is enough to move the needle. It’s a clear indication the Utah product’s stock has dramatically dipped.
It comes a few days after reports emerged that Los Angeles engaged in trade talks with the Sacramento Kings to acquire Buddy Hield for Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. ESPN‘s Adrian Wojnarowski also stated the Lakers offered some essence of a trade package that includes Kuzma and Caldwell-Pope to teams they have spoken to about a trade.
Much can certainly change in the coming weeks, but it’s quite evident Kuzma is on thin ice in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles will continue to explore the trade market
Kuzma’s involvement in trade talks will remain a constant throughout the offseason as the Lakers look to improve the roster.
He holds a $13 million salary next season, while Los Angeles is hoping teams are intrigued by the appeal of a new situation allowing his talent to flourish. If the front office executes a trade this summer, it will more than likely include Kuzma as a primary piece.
The Lakers may also make an aggressive push in sign-and-trade scenarios to add backcourt talent, such as Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Spencer Dinwiddie, or Lonzo Ball. Regardless of the discussion, Kuzma will be at the top of the list as an involved asset.
In other words, it may only be a matter of time before he has a new NBA home.
Contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.