The Los Angeles Lakers struck gold when they selected Kyle Kuzma with the No. 27 pick in the NBA draft. The rookie forward has been phenomenal in his transition to the pros.
Eric Pincus speculated that the front office in Los Angeles will hold on to Kuzma at all costs (via Twitter):
“Executives tend to favor the guys they drafted, especially steals. Wonder if by that, Kuzma is especially untouchable? Don’t believe Lakers intend to yield on any of their top young players.”
Some may wonder if Los Angeles would use Kuzma in a trade proposal this offseason to unload the undesirable salary of Luol Deng.
According to Pincus, it’s far more likely the Lakers offer cash and a first-round pick (as well as other draft considerations) than trade the surprisingly successful rookie.
The 22-year-old is still developing, but his offensive skill set is already worth getting excited about.
He has been used most often as a spot-up shooter, but has shown flashes of potential when playing one-on-one as well. He has averaged 1.12 points per possession on isolation plays. Among those with as many opportunities, only Houston’s James Harden has been more efficient.
Kuzma is shooting 13-for-25 (52.0 percent) when he has taken jump shots on this play type, which is second-best in the Western Conference among players with 20 or more possessions.
Former NBA player Nate Robinson speculated that Leonard would prefer to play closer to home in California. The Spurs will presumably touch base with the Lakers about Kuzma if they are making Leonard available and Los Angeles would obviously have to consider this (and potentially get a long-term commitment from Leonard since he’s an unrestricted free agent after next season).
But outside of that scenario, it seems extraordinarily doubtful that the 22-year-old will change teams next season.