Trading Kyle Kuzma Isn't Worth It Unless the Lakers Get a Big Haul in Return

Ryan Phillips
Kyle Kuzma plays for the Los Angeles Lakers against the Dallas Mavericks
Kyle Kuzma plays for the Los Angeles Lakers against the Dallas Mavericks / John McCoy/Getty Images

Kyle Kuzma appears to be on the trade block as the Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly listening to offers for the 24-year-old forward. So far, the Lakers are asking for a ton in return for the third-year pro and it needs to stay that way. Any deal the Lakers make needs to net them a haul in return, or it's not worth doing.

Kuzma has struggled this season coming off a foot injury and trying to find his place on a Lakers' team where he's a bench guy, and the third option behind LeBron James and Anthony Davis. So far this season, Kuzma is scoring 11.8 points and grabbing 3.5 rebounds in 23.5 minutes per game and he has started just once in 27 games. But those numbers aren't indicative of the kind of player he is.

Last season, Kuzma shined. He finished the season averaging 18.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 33.1 minutes per game. During the 2018-19 campaign he shot 45.6 percent from the field and 30.3 percent from 3-point range. So far this season he's only hitting 42.0 percent from the field but is up to 34.6 percent from 3-point range.

Kuzma is the third option on the Lakers but on a lesser team he'd likely be the first option on the wing. And he's young, which has to be key for the Lakers in any trade considerations.

Over the past season LA has sold off all of its young, developing talent. Sure, the Lakers had to send Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and Lonzo Ball to the Pelicans to land Anthony Davis, that was completely understandable. But the franchise has made some awful trades over the past year where it has sold off young players.

Late last season the Lakers shipped sharpshooter Svi Mykhailiuk to the Pistons in exchange for a few weeks of Reggie Bullock, and traded Ivica Zubac to the Clippers for two awful months of Mike Muscala. Those were both terrible trades that made the franchise worse. They were wildly short-sighted moves of the kind that can't happen again.

If Kuzma has to go, the Lakers need to bring back something that makes them demonstrably better. Landing a veteran like Andre Iguodala or a restricted free agent like Bogdan Bogdanovic simply isn't enough. LA needs to get a young player or a draft pick in return for it's youngest, highest-upside rotation player.

Kuzma needs to net the Lakers a great return with long-term potential, or they shouldn't bother trading him.