Despite having shown development over the course of his three seasons in the NBA, Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma’s image as a key building block for the team’s future has faded.
Sam Amick of The Athletic looked at possible trade candidates across the NBA as next month’s deadline looms large. Unsurprisingly, Kuzma appeared on that list.
“First and foremost, consider this the formal apology for referring to Kuzma as a ‘young star’ in my Sunday post looking at his uncertain situation,” Amick wrote. “NBA scribes are allowed to shoot airballs every once in a while too, you know.
“But it wasn’t that long ago when Kuzma was widely seen as a young player who might evolve into a rising star, and his struggles this season underscore the fact that Laker Land has changed quite a bit since the summer of 2018. He’s no longer a firm part of their plans, and it’s fair to wonder where he might land if Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka sees an opportunity to add a better piece to their puzzle. His rookie deal – $1.9 million this season; $3.5 million next season – will make it tricky to make the salaries match.”
Kuzma had to deal with a foot injury suffered during the offseason that forced him to miss the preseason.
He then sat out the first four contests of the regular season before injuring his ankle last month and sitting out another five contests.
In 28 games for the Lakers this season, Kuzma is averaging 12.0 points and 3.6 rebounds per game, lower numbers compared to his averages last season of 18.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.
Of course, one of the chief reasons for that drop has been the addition of Anthony Davis to the Lakers.
As a result, Kuzma has started in just one of his 28 appearances, in contrast to the 68 starts in 70 games last season.
The Lakers currently have a 30-7 record, with their next game set for Friday night, when they travel to Dallas to face the Mavericks.