NBA Rumor: Kyle Kuzma Trade?

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Kuzma has been “trying to play to exhaustion” partly because of Bryant’s wisdom. He insisted that had less to do with the trade deadline, though, and more to do with thinking about Bryant since his recent passing. “It was a good time for me to really just look back and reflect on what made Kob’ so great,” Kuzma said. “Everybody talks about the ‘Mamba Mentality’ of being a vicious scorer and looking to score, but that’s not even what that is. That mentality is to be tenacious, play with heart and be relentless at all times.”

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN offered a bit more context on his latest episode of “The Woj Pod,” previewing what various Western Conference teams might do in advance of the deadline: “I think with Kuzma, with Kyle Kuzma they have talked, they have listened. I think his contract makes it hard, he’s just making over $2 million… It makes it hard to make the money work on a trade somewhere, because how do you make it work with him financially? If you’re trading for an established veteran player, you assume he’s making a lot more than $2 million… You never know, but right now I think the idea of maybe having to gut their depth a little bit to trade for one guy, it may not make sense for them. And maybe is only a marginal improvement over what they have in Kuzma anyway.”

Reports have them fielding offers for power forward Kyle Kuzma as a potential trade chip, but his modest rookie salary-scale contract, which pays him less than $2 million this season, makes it challenging to flip him for a more talented, proven player. (A source familiar with the team’s thinking disputes that the Lakers are aggressively shopping Kuzma after he appeared to co-sign disparaging remarks made by his personal trainer about LeBron James.)

Kuzma’s uneven play has fueled speculation that the Lakers may look to move him for a more team-friendly part. That seems unlikely, however. Kuzma is under an extremely team-friendly contract, earning just under $2 million this season and about $3.5 million in ’20-21. That limits the salary level of the players the Lakers can absorb in return. More importantly: Giving up on Kuzma this early isn’t something the Lakers should be interested in. Kuzma is just 24. He’s a proven NBA scorer. He’s experiencing a learning curve playing alongside James and Davis, but there simply is not enough evidence to declare the fit in L.A. a failure. Expect the Lakers to hold on to Kuzma in the hopes he develops into a reliable third scoring option this season—and beyond.

As the trade deadline approached a year ago, the Lakers were holed up at their hotel next to Boston Common. For Kuzma, it was a whirl. He had been offered up in trade packages as part of the Lakers pursuit of Anthony Davis and spent the hours before tipoff against the Celtics at TD Garden watching the clock and scanning social media. “That was a weird day,” Kuzma said Monday. “Before trade deadline it was weird, you knew something was going to happen but you didn’t know what was going to happen. But like after the deadline it was like you’ve got to play a game.”

No Kuzma-Bogdanovic swap?

According to a league source, the Kings are unlikely to bite on a Bogdanovic-Kuzma swap and the team is comfortable walking into this summer with Bogdanovic as a restricted free agent. The Kings are 0-6 when Bogdanovic misses a game this season. He is the most versatile player on the roster, and according to a source, any deal made this trade season would need to make sense for the roster and team veratilty, now and in the future.

A league source told The Sacramento Bee the Kings are unlikely to trade Bogdanovic for Kuzma. The Kings value Bogdanovic’s versatility and they are comfortable with having the right to match any offers for him if he becomes a restricted free agent this summer. Bogdanovic has missed six games due to hamstring and ankle injuries this season. The Kings are 0-6 in those contests.

Lakers seeking player, first-round pick for Kuzma

League sources told Heavy.com that the notion of the Lakers pulling the trigger on a deal for Kuzma is still a long way off. One general manager said the Lakers would ask for a high rotation player—preferably a point guard—who could bolster the chances for LeBron James and Anthony Davis to earn a spot in the Finals, as well as a first-round draft pick that projects to be in or around the lottery.

Lakers listening to offers for Kyle Kuzma

Jokes aside, here’s the real question some executives are asking about the 24-year-old forward: Will Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka eventually send him packing to upgrade the Lakers’ roster for a title run? As our Shams Charania reported Friday, teams are monitoring his situation and wondering whether he can be had before the Feb. 6 trade deadline. What’s more, sources now say the Lakers have shown a recent willingness to listen to pitches for Kuzma. And … we’re off — sort of. From the Lakers’ perspective, this open-phone-lines approach is merely a case of Pelinka doing due diligence as opposed to having substantive discussions. If only because nothing of real interest has come their way — yet.

When Kuzma went to Charlotte for All-Star Weekend to participate in the NBA’s Rising Stars Challenge, he sought an audience with Pelinka. Kuzma and his people came away from their chat feeling reassured, a source close to the situation told The Athletic. Pelinka told the second-year forward that he was key to the Lakers’ future and that, unless it was a trade for one of the game’s three best players, he wasn’t trading him. A year earlier, Larry Nance Jr. approached Pelinka with a similar question. Nance Jr. and his fiancée, his college girlfriend, were interested in buying a house. He wanted to get a sense of whether the Lakers planned on keeping him around, and Pelinka told him that the Lakers would only trade him if it meant landing one of the game’s three best players. He told him to buy the house, multiple sources confirmed.

Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and Pelicans general manager Dell Demps re-opened their dialogue Monday about working together on an Anthony Davis trade. The Lakers increased their offer to include everything the Pelicans desire: six players, two first-round draft picks and a willingness to take back an undesirable contract. The Lakers’ most recent offer to the Pelicans, according to people with knowledge of the situation, includes Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, Michael Beasley and two first-round picks in exchange for Davis and Solomon Hill, who is set to make $13 million next season.
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September 20, 2020 | 12:22 pm EDT Update
So, I asked, how did Lakers coach Frank Vogel see it after he had watched the film? “We were definitely the aggressors in the game, and the box score I have right here has us with 28 (fouls),” Vogel said. “We got called for 28 fouls. They got called for 26.” It was a savvy stance to take, albeit oversimplified. So as Vogel left his media session to rejoin his team, I admitted to him that I hadn’t noticed that the final fouls tally was in the Nuggets’ favor. “I do my research,” he said with a grin.
Storyline: Officiating Complaints
When Orange County Register Lakers beat writer Kyle Goon asked Vogel about James’ shot selection this season, it was refreshing to hear a candid and fascinating response from the Lakers coach rather than something more political. James, whose midrange jumper has been so effective for so many years now, has focused more on shots at the rim and beyond the arc this season, in part because of the message being sent by the coaching staff. “It is definitely a coaching point,” Vogel said. “You know, we want to have an analytics-based shot selection mindset with our team. … It’s the free throw No. 1; layup dunk No. 2; corner 3, No. 3; arc 3, No. 4, and midrange is the fifth priority shot we could have. But I will not ever tell my team not to take midrange shots if they are open shots. The No. 1 analytic for me is ‘Are you open?’ or ‘Are you guarded?’ That applies to shots at the rim, applies to 3-point line and applies to midrange. I’ll take an open shot over any zone that you can put up the shot from, and we want to work for open shots.”
“We’re not trying to intimidate anyone,” said Rondo, who had seven points, nine assists and a plus-13 in nearly 22 minutes. “We’re just playing basketball. With the guys we have — Dwight (and his) physical ability, he’s just playing the game. No one’s out there trying to bully people. We’re playing to our strengths. “I’ve been telling (Howard) the last two weeks (that) he’s going to be our X-factor in the series. I’m very happy that he got an opportunity to come out and play and display his talent, and show how much we need him. Like I said, I told him in the Houston series, things don’t go his way sometimes but in a championship run you need all 15 guys, and that’s what we displayed (in Game 1). Coach being able to go deep in the bench, and use guys that we haven’t used last series, so it’s a testament to the management, the way we’re able to be flexible — go small, go big, and (in Game 1) Dwight Howard, especially, was great for us.”
“This has been something I’ve never dealt with. There’s a lot going on for me individually, (and) for my family. And then the rehab, just with (the coronavirus in society) and the bubble and trying to do the best that I can to not have to quarantine for many days coming back here and having to quarantine — basically taking five days off from treatment and rehab and then trying to get myself ready to play in the Eastern Conference Finals, that’s something that’s a daunting task for sure. So for me … I’ve tried to do the best I can each day with it, and not put pressure on myself and just try to help us win basketball games, honestly.”
“To be honest, I didn’t get much sleep the last 48 hours,” Brown, who clashed with Smart in the passionate locker room scene, said when asked about the recovery process for their team. “I was so antsy to get back and play basketball. I don’t think the last two games exemplify what this team is about. So, I couldn’t wait to come out and be the best version of myself and try to add to a win. And I’m glad to be a part of this team and this organization and I’m proud of how we responded. … At the end of the day, we’re a family. We represent this organization. We represent each other and we won’t ever let anything come in between that. We’ve got a tremendous opportunity and we understand that and nothing’s going to stop us from trying to maximize that.”
Back in February, Us Weekly published a story about how Vanessa had been leaning on her mother, Sofia Laine, as she grieved the loss of Kobe and hers and Kobe’s 13-year-old daughter Giannia. Laine had moved in with Vanessa at one point, but she now says her daughter has kicked her out of the Bryant home. Laine sat down for an interview with Univision that is set to air in its entirety on Monday. A preview clip, which is only in Spanish, was shared on social media. According to Erika Marie of Hot New Hip Hop, a teary-eyed Laine claims in the interview that her daughter has kicked her out of the Bryant home and demanded that she return a car Vanessa had given to her.
September 20, 2020 | 9:24 am EDT Update