Despite failing to acquire Kawhi Leonard in the 2019 NBA free agency, most people believe that the Los Angeles Lakers already have their third superstar in Kyle Kuzma. Unfortunately, since returning from an ankle injury, Kuzma is yet to live up to expectations from the player who would help LeBron James and Anthony Davis carry the Lakers back to title contention. As of now, rumors have started to swirl that the Lakers may consider using Kuzma as a trade chip to upgrade their roster before the 2020 February NBA trade deadline.
According to Rob Mahoney of The Ringer, trading Kuzma could give the Lakers the “best chance” to land an “impact player” who will be available on the trade market before the 2020 February NBA trade deadline. Mahoney suggested that the Lakers could go after an actual wing or a guard who has the same skill set as Kuzma.
“Considering that most of Kuzma’s skill set is already perimeter-oriented, it makes sense to pursue a wing or guard who could fulfill the same role and more. Rather than parking Kuzma on the wing, couldn’t the Lakers find a more natural shooter with a suitable floor game? And instead of asking James or Kuzma to chase opposing wings around staggered screens, wouldn’t it be better to target a defender who’s more comfortable locking and trailing? Kuzma is reasonably flexible for a 6-foot-8, 220-pound forward, but that doesn’t mean he can do the work of a wing better than an actual wing.”
When it comes to trading Kuzma for a wing or a guard, Zach Frydenlund of Complex has an interesting idea regarding whom the Lakers should target on the trade market. In his recent article, Frydenlund mentioned five players that could help the Lakers become a more competitive team in the 2019-20 NBA season. These include JJ Redick of the New Orleans Pelicans, Marcus Morris of the New York Knicks, Dennis Schroder of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Derrick Rose of the Detroit Pistons, and Andre Iguodala of the Memphis Grizzlies.
Any potential deal involving Kuzma would definitely be very beneficial for all the NBA teams on Frydenlund’s list as most of them are expected to undergo a rebuilding process. However, executing an actual trade would be complicated, especially if the Lakers want to acquire one of Redick, Schroder, Morris, and Iguodala. Kuzma’s contract for the 2019-20 NBA season is only worth $1.9 million, meaning that the Lakers would need to sacrifice another veteran role player for salary-matching purposes.
As of now, it’s more likely the Lakers will keep Kuzma for the rest of the 2019-20 NBA season and try addressing the issues on their roster by targeting players who will be available on the buyout market.