Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma’s cryptic IG move hints at future
Kyle Kuzma is the latest Los Angeles Lakers player to hint at an upcoming disassociation with the franchise via Instagram.
On Friday, folks noticed that Kuzma removed “@Lakers” from his IG bio. It simply reads “NBA Champion” now.
— The Laker Files (@LakerFiles) June 18, 2021
Conveniently, Kuzma’s bio revision comes a few hours after Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated said on ESPN’s “The Jump” that the Lakers should explore parting ways with Kuzma, 25, in favor of Kemba Walker, 31. The four-time All-Star was traded from the Boston Celtics to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday, and OKC is expected to work with Walker to eventually move him to a more desirable destination.
"If I'm the Lakers, I'd go after Kemba Walker. Kuzma looks like he's on his way out."
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) June 18, 2021
The Lakers are in the market for a third scorer and playmaker to pair with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. GM Rob Pelinka reportedly shopped Kuzma at the March trade deadline, and they considered a swap for Brooklyn Nets injured guard Spencer Dinwiddie.
Due to cap constraints, L.A. needs to look to the trade market to add significant outside talent this summer. Kuzma is one of the Lakers’ most useful trade chips: due to his mid-size contract (3 years, $39 million), youth and on-court value.
Kuzma, the longest-tenured Laker, has admirably rounded out his game over the past two seasons, but his inability to regain the scoring touch in the playoffs (6.3 PPG) was debilitating.
I asked Frank Vogel if the Lakers need to get Kyle Kuzma — who has 2 points in the Suns series — going a little bit more on offense.
Short answer: "A little bit"
Full answer: below pic.twitter.com/5CqsCFei0j
— michael corvo (@_michaelcorvo_) May 27, 2021
“I think this year I made incredible strides becoming a winning player,” Kuzma said at exit interviews. “Making the right play. Being a real valuable asset on the defensive end and I got a lot of growth in me.”
In the same media session, Kuzma was asked if he expects to stay in contact with the Lakers organization throughout the summer:
“100 percent,” he responded. “I’ve been here the longest. I’ve been through a bunch of different eras here. Rebuilding stage. LeBron’s first year here figuring it out. Winning championships and now this year. I’ve seen a lot. Been through a lot. Wore a lot of different hats and roles during my tenure here. I’m excited to see what the future brings for us and this offseason.”
For what it’s worth, Pelinka included Kuzma when sharing his desire to run it back with the Lakers’ “core” intact.
“In terms of free agency, we feel like we have a core group of players that can do special things. I’m convinced that without some of the unforeseen circumstances this year…we’d be a championship-caliber team. The goal is to try to keep that core group together. And of course, with players like Talen Horton-Tucker and Alex Caruso and Kyle Kuzma, players that you draft or bring into your two-way system and groom and develop, there’s a level of pride in that and what the Lakers have been able to do with those players and to grow them. So of course our intentions would be to keep our core together.”