Kuzma has reportedly been involved in trade talks for New York Knicks forward Marcus Morris. If the Lakers are to make a notable improvement before the deadline, Kuzma is almost certainly going to be involved. It presents a dilemma for Rob Pelinka.
Aside from Davis and LeBron James, Kuzma is the only Laker averaging double figures per night. Still on his rookie deal, the small salary means other pieces would have to be moved with him in a potential trade, compromising LA’s depth. He’s due to get paid this summer.
That contract is the crux of the matter. Kuzma splits opinion among journalists and front offices. There’s a case to keep him at the Lakers to retain some hope for the long-term in the post-LeBron years. The other side is that their window is right now. Kuzma is a four, as are LeBron and Davis. The fit is far from ideal – if he could be moved for an experienced player who slots into the offense and defense better, then that surely makes sense?
With any trade, evaluation can’t be done until we know both sides. The concept of trading Kuzma is muddled even without throwing in the variable of who they are getting in return. Giving him up for Morris – another player who belongs at the four – doesn’t seem worth it. A secondary ball-handler like Derrick Rose, maybe, but the sub-par shooting of Rose doesn’t necessarily move the needle.
The Lakers have been rolling all season long. Kuzma might not have been seen as more than a complementary piece in that, but the Lakers shouldn’t give up a scorer like him for nothing. They need offensive support for Davis and LeBron. A trade involving their main young player would need to bring back a player with control beyond this season to make sense. There aren’t short-term bigger names on the market who could be traded for without including picks that the Lakers don’t have.
Picking up Darren Collison in free agency looks to be the move that could impact the Lakers’ season most. Collison is everything they’re looking for.
It’s a risk, of course, but there must be a temptation to keep hold of Kuzma and cross fingers for Collison. Andre Iguodala being off the market is a blow for Pelinka, but at least he’s on the other side of the country rather than down the hallway.