Los Angeles did engage teams with packages involving Kyle Kuzma before March's trade deadline, sources said. Kuzma begins a three-year, $39 million contract next season.
“They made a bunch of calls,” one assistant general manager told B/R. “They were very active.”
One such acquisition the Lakers reportedly considered for Kuzma was Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who has a $12 million player option for 2021-22.
In addition to their pursuit of Lowry, the Lakers were canvassing the league for opportunities to acquire a rookie-scale player who could perhaps bridge this James-Davis chapter and the inevitable post-James future. Before Spencer Dinwiddie's injury, Los Angeles even inquired about adding Brooklyn's reserve ball handler in exchange for Kuzma.
Dinwiddie, 28, averaged 20.6 points per game for Brooklyn in 2019-20, then tore his ACL three games into this season.
Los Angeles has praised Kuzma's pivot from a score-first player into a Swiss-Army-Knife spark-plug since LeBron James and Anthony Davis came aboard and transformed the Lakers into title contenders while soaking up shot opportunities. Kuzma has drastically improved his defense, play-making, and hustle impact, though one executive surmised that the Lakers brass may not be completely sold on his evolution.
“I think they've been trying to move Kuzma for a long time,” added another assistant general manager. “His defense has always been questionable, and I think his early success has become a bit of fool's gold.”
Kuzma has averaged 12.8 points on 11 field goal attempts per game over the past two seasons. He averaged 17.3 PPG on 14.5 FGA in his first two seasons. Regardless: he's undoubtedly become a more winning player since inking his extension in December and committing to other aspects of the game.
That said, now's the time for Kuzma to rediscover his knacks for buckets. The 25-year old has scored 21 total points through the first four games of the Lakers' first-round clash with the Phoenix Suns. If Anthony Davis can't play in Game 5 (or beyond), Los Angeles will need Kuzma to seek points more aggressively.