Why the Los Angeles Lakers should not trade Kyle Kuzma

Lakers rumors (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Lakers rumors (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

Los Angeles Lakers’ forward Kyle Kuzma has been in a variety of trade rumors. Despite popular belief, the Lakers should not trade Kyle Kuzma.

Despite the recent reports, the Los Angeles Lakers should stay put and not move Kyle Kuzma with the trade deadline looming.

It’s no secret that Kuzma has not lived up to expectations thus far in his third year in the league. When Anthony Davis was acquired, many etched Kuzma in to be the third star of the team.  After averaging 16.1 and 18.7 points per game in his first two seasons, Kuzma seemed like he could be a major offensive threat and help take pressure off of LeBron James and Davis.

However, Kuzma has been underwhelming, for a variety of reasons. His scoring has dropped dramatically and is currently averaging a mere 11.8 points per game. Additionally, his scoring has been very inconsistent; right when fans think he is finally heading in the right direction after a promising game, Kuzma often plays terribly.

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His three-ball has not been great, his decision making has been poor, and his defensive is often nowhere to be found as well.

With all this said, the Los Angeles Lakers should refrain from trading Kuzma.

Much of the criticism towards Kuzma is unwarranted.

First off, Kuzma has been battling injuries all season. He was not able to debut until five games in the season due to a severe ankle sprain suffered over the summer with Team USA.

He also missed another stretch of games between games 25 and 29. With two spans of games missed, Kuzma has not been able to find a rhythm or his role within the team. His inconsistent play can be attributed to trying to adjust to his new role while also fighting these injuries.

Secondly, Kuzma’s role has completely changed. Last season, Kuzma started 68 out of 70 games he played in. He thrived in this role, where he was at his best offensively.

But now, Kuzma has only started one game, and will likely come off the bench for the rest of the year. Some people thrive coming off the bench, for example, Derrick Rose has started to thrive as Detroit’s sixth man. However, this transition can be very difficult for others, and this seems to be the case with Kuzma.

Third, Anthony Davis changes the whole dynamic of the team. Not only does Davis himself make a difference, but also the sacrifice to acquire him. During the trade, Kuzma lost two of his closest teammates in Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram. Kuzma has been forced to grow up really fast; it’s not all fun and games anymore, and Kuzma has to get into business mode.

On the court, Kuzma is affected as well. As we have seen in LeBron James “big threes” before,  former studs like Kevin Love and Chris Bosh take dramatic dips in production.  With Kuzma not being near the caliber of a player as these, it may be even more of a challenge for him to find ways to be as effective as possible.

Now, Rob Pelinka still needs to listen to offers for Lakers players with the trade deadline approaching. If he truly feels like there is a deal in place that can help the Lakers, he needs to take it. However, this is near impossible with Kuzma.

Kuzma has one of the most team-friendly contracts in the NBA, making less than $2 million this season. To make a trade feasible, the Lakers would have to include other players to increase the contract value being traded. However, there are not many options for the Lakers.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is a name that often pops up, but he is under a no-trade clause. The Lakers are left pretty much with DeMarcus Cousins and Quinn Cook, both players that may be viewed more as liabilities rather than assets in a trade. With Kuzma’s contract, it will be very difficult to find any trade that brings in any player with a value near Kuzma.

As always, Laker fans are pressing the team to make moves. However, with Kuzma, why do the fans want to make a move? Is it because they truly feel they can get a certain player that brings much better value to the team and would elevate the Lakers? Or is it because they are annoyed Kuzma is not yet living up to the expectations?

Fans often get bored and want a new shiny toy, and often times, they end up wishing they could just go back to the way it was before. This literally happened last year to the Lakers! The team traded Svi Mykhailiuk, who would be a perfect fit for this Lakers team, for a half-season rental of Reggie Bullock. 

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Laker fans, give Kuzma some time. Let him find his role. Let him fully recover. If the Los Angeles Lakers get rid of him, it might be a big mistake.