The buzz around the Los Angeles Lakers ahead of the trade deadline is building. With about a month left to go, there is wide speculation about how the team can improve its roster despite its West-leading record.
Naturally, that has led to other organizations across the NBA to do their due diligence, namely in attempting to find ways to pry Kyle Kuzma away from the Lakers for more veteran help. According to The Athletic’s Sam Amick, the Lakers are listening to those offers:
As our Shams Charania reported Friday, teams are monitoring his situation and wondering whether he can be had before the Feb. 6 trade deadline. What’s more, sources now say the Lakers have shown a recent willingness to listen to pitches for Kuzma.
Now, it’s important to note that listening to offers does not mean that the Lakers are shopping their third-year forward around. Much like other teams are doing their due diligence, so are the Lakers. Kuzma is a valuable part of this team but he’s not untouchable and the Lakers should be willing to listen to offers even if ultimately nothing comes of it.
We’ve written extensively about why a Kuzma trade may not make much sense for the Lakers. His value is low due to a drop in production since Anthony Davis’ arrival pushed him to the bench. His low salary makes it difficult to get back an impact player though they could perhaps acquire a pick that they could then trade for another piece.
Meanwhile, Amick reports that general manager Rob Pelinka, who considers drafting Kuzma late in the first round one of his major successes as an executive, may not be willing to part ways with him just yet. LeBron James, Amick reports, has also remained “supportive” of his young teammate so there might not be much internal pressure or incentive to trade him just yet.
The Lakers’ main goal is to win a championship this season. If trading Kuzma is the path to doing that then the team must listen to offers for the 24-year-old. But they also have to have an outlook for the future. How would moving Kuzma now affect the team’s ability to continue contending for titles in the next few years? Kuzma is eligible for an extension this summer and will become a restricted free agent the next; he could potentially be in LA for many years to come alongside Davis.
What is clear is that the Lakers understand they need upgrades to the roster despite their strong start to the year. There are notable holes in the backcourt and on the wings and in order to have a chance at winning the championship, they likely need to shore both of those up. The question will be whether Kuzma is the key to doing just that.