Among the many topics on Lakers’ general manager Rob Pelinka’s plate this offseason is a potential contract extension for Kyle Kuzma. Entering his fourth year in the NBA, Kuzma is eligible for a rookie extension this offseason. If he and the team do not come to an agreement, he would enter restricted free agency next year at which point the Lakers would have the right to match any offer presented to him by another team.
On Thursday, Pelinka spoke to media about a number of topics and touched on the Kuzma extension talks, saying that the team would sit down with the forward’s agent “when the time is right.” The deadline to sign an extension is December 21st, one day prior to the start of the season, so the Lakers have plenty of time to finalize all other offseason transactions before making the call on Kuzma.
Kuz is obviously a pretty divisive player both in NBA circles and in the Lakers’ fanbase. He showed his value as a perimeter defender and corner 3-point shooter during the postseason but he also rarely put in a flashy, high-impact performance. With rumors that the Utah product wants a sizable next contract, it’s no surprise that the Lakers have reportedly discussed trading the 25-year-old. Waiting out extension talks will allow the Lakers to keep shopping around one of their few remaining “assets” to see what they could possibly get for him before he is signed to a larger contract.
Kuzma has shown a willingness to adapt and improve in his situations after entering the league as a pure scorer in his rookie season. There’s value to keeping a player like that around, especially considering the time the franchise has spent to develop him into a fairly reliable role player. But it’s not an easy decision for them to make; right now, it appears as though the Lakers are open to either keeping him or trading him away. For Kuzma, it’s just as difficult to consider pursuing teams where he might get bigger opportunities to showcase his talent or make more money.