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Rumor: Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma a sought-after asset on trade market

Lakers, Kyle Kuzma

Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma just got his first ring at 25 years old and in his third season in the NBA. While he can call himself an NBA champion, he cannot declare for certain that he’ll be a Laker next season.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on Kuzma’s situation on Thursday. The forward is eligible for a contract extension this offseason, but he could also use next season to build his value ahead of restricted free agency. There’s also a chance for a trade, with “several interested clubs” apparently monitoring the situation to see if he hits the market.

This isn’t all that surprising. Kuzma’s production dipped this season after a promising start to his career, and the Lakers might look to use him as a trade chip to get something better in return. While L.A. will likely also have extension talks, it makes sense to explore the trade market in case he’s not truly in the franchise’s future plans. Getting something in return would be better than losing him for nothing.

The arrival of Anthony Davis in L.A. obviously had a lot to do with Kuzma’s stunted growth in Year 3. After being a starter who averaged 18.7 points per game last season, Kuzma was demoted to a second-string reserve, who himself struggled to stay relevant with the team’s second unit.

The forward averaged 12.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.3 assists while shooting 43.6% overall and 31.6% on 3-pointers. In the playoffs, Kuzma’s numbers dipped to 10.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 0.8 assists per game on 43.0% shooting from the field and 31.3% on 3-pointers. While his defense improved and played a key role in the Lakers’ championship, his offense was a disappointment.

Kuzma is set to make $3.56 million next season.