With the NBA trade deadline about one month away, no player has been mentioned in speculation more than Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma in recent days. The 24-year-old has been the subject of many rumors, most notably a potential swap for Bogdan Bogdanovic of the Sacramento Kings, which is now being reported as unlikely to happen.
After the Lakers gave a treasure trove of assets to trade for Anthony Davis, Kuzma became the team’s primary (and perhaps only) asset. With the team holding some noticeable flaws despite their West-leading 30-7 record, Kuzma may very well be the key in improving the margins of the roster to contend for a title.
As a result, according to the LA Times’ Tania Ganguli, Lakers’ vice president Rob Pelinka has held talks with “more than one team” where Kuzma was involved. Kuzma’s incredibly team-friendly contract and his potential are surely intriguing factors for several teams around the NBA.
The Lakers have seemingly made it clear that outside of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, no one on the roster is exempt from trades which should be the case for a team with championship aspirations. That includes Kuzma, even if Pelinka considers him one of the great successes of his tenure in Los Angeles.
That said, any trade involving Kuzma will be divisive. Not only is Kuzma a talented young player who could potentially bloom into something more in a few years, but his low salary makes finding equal or better value for him very difficult. The Lakers would almost certainly need to include other players and even that will be a hard task given the lack of middle-tier contracts on the team.
At this stage, all trade talks seem to be exploratory. Teams around the league are gathering intel to understand what is and isn’t available before they talk about the frameworks of any deals. The talks surrounding Kuzma are loud and there is smoke almost certainly because the Lakers want to know if they could find an upgrade for him. But that doesn’t mean the team is dead-set on trading their young player or that they will find an amicable trade.