After definitively keeping him out of trade talks with the New Orleans Pelicans for Anthony Davis, he has since been in countless trade rumors.
Kuzma was an awkward fit next to LeBron James and Davis this year after having a breakout sophomore season.
Now that he is entering his contract year, the Lakers need to figure out what to do with him.
There have been rumors of Kuzma signing an extension with the Lakers, but it sounds as though the Knicks are interested in a trade for the young forward.
This comes from a report from Ross at Legion Hoops.
The Knicks and Lakers had dialogue on a trade that would send Kyle Kuzma to New York.
The teams spoke again “recently” – per league source.
— Ross 🏀 (@LegionHoopsRoss) November 17, 2020
Kuzma would bring championship experience and star potential to a team dying for talent.
The Knicks have been cellar-dwellers for years now and are looking to be relevant again.
Knicks Potential Offers
New York does not have much available in the asset department.
R.J. Barrett and the 8th pick are the most attractive trade chips, but the Knicks don’t want to move either of those assets.
Mitchell Robinson is an intriguing prospect but the Lakers don’t have much need for a center with a limited shooting ability.
Kevin Knox is another option, but would the Lakers even be interested?
He has yet to prove he can shoot the ball and only scored 6.4 PPG last season.
Knox wouldn’t be an upgrade over Kuzma.
The most interesting trades for the Lakers would center around Julius Randle or the 23rd pick.
Randle had arguably his best season as a pro playing alongside David in New Orleans in 2018-2019.
He averaged 21.4 PPG, 8.7 RPG, and 3.1 APG while slashing 52.4%/34.4%/73.1%.
Julius would be a potentially great fit coming off the bench for the Lakers.
Los Angeles also may be looking to get back into the draft.
They recently parted with their only first-round pick in the deal for Dennis Schröder and have been linked to multiple prospects late in the first round.
The Knicks just picked up the 23rd pick after packaging the 27th and 38th selections to the Utah Jazz.
Kuzma Underrated on Lakers?
Many in the league are still high on the 25-year-old forward.
People around the league are high on Kyle Kuzma
"Some around the league believe he can be a starter and cause mismatches on offense. Others view Kuzma as a scorer off the bench who can change the dynamic of a game on a playoff team."
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) November 16, 2020
While his scoring numbers took a dip this season, he became a more well-rounded player.
Kyle was a much-improved defender and facilitator while playing an important role off the bench for a championship team.
The regression in scoring can be easily explained by a drastic role change and early season injuries.
2018-2019 saw Kuzma average 33 MPG being a full-time starter.
He was the Lakers’ 2nd or 3rd scoring option and operated frequently with the ball in his hands.
2018-2019: 68 Starts, 33.1 MPG, 15.5 FGA, 45.6% FG%, 6.0 3PA, 30.3% 3P%, 3.6 FTA, 18.7 PPG
2019-2020: 9 Starts, 25 MPG, 11 FGA 43.6 FG%, 4.5 3PA, 31.6% 3P%, 2.5 FTA, 12.8 PPG
Due to the early injuries he dealt with, Kuzma never seemed to get into a groove and struggled in his new role.
However, he is still only 1 year removed from his breakout season.
He has proven he can carry the scoring load for a team and is young enough that he still has untapped potential.
If he can build on his improvements as a defender and facilitator while returning to form as a scorer, he is not far off from being a star in this league.
Because of this, Kuzma is reportedly expecting a large extension, per Brian Windhorst.
Kyle Kuzma is looking for a ‘sizable deal' from the Lakers, per Brian Windhorst
"From what I understand, [he] is expecting a sizable deal, hoping for a sizable deal."
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) November 10, 2020
With next offseason primed to be loaded with top-end talent, the Lakers more than likely not want to offer Kuzma a length extension.
Davis is the only guaranteed contract the Lakers have on the books after next season and want to have as much flexibility as possible.
If Kuzma is not extended, he will be a restricted free agent next year.
Being a restricted free agent would allow the Lakers to match any offer a team makes for him.