The Los Angeles Lakers have been in pursuit of Anthony Davis since February. They failed to land him before the trade deadline despite offering up everyone except LeBron James in some way, shape, or form. Now, trade talks are starting to heat up, but the package reported on Wednesday of the No. 4 pick, Brandon Ingram, and Lonzo Ball won’t meet the requirements to land a player like Davis.
One player that was assumed to be a part of any trade discussions is Kyle Kuzma. He was notably absent from yesterday’s discussions, however, and Tania Ganguli from the Los Angeles Times reports the Lakers are reluctant to include his name in any potential package.
If Kuzma, of all people, is the hold-up on a Davis trade, the Lakers will ultimately regret it immensely, and shouldn’t hesitate to ship him off. Kuzma is a quality young player, no doubt about that, and if the Lakers can keep him, then all the more power to them. But he’s not, and will never be, so good that any team would rather have him than someone of Davis’ caliber.
Kuzma is a great fit in today’s game and averaged 18 points a game last year while providing just enough shooting to space the offense, and occasionally showed the defensive chops to go up against some of the league’s skinnier centers. He has room to grow, but he’ll also 24 by the time the season starts. The emphasis on age can get a bit ridiculous in the NBA, but he’s only a year younger than Joel Embiid, who has been in the league since 2014. The fact that he’s older puts more of a hard ceiling on how much farther he can come as a player in the next few years.
Kuzma proved to be a good fit next to LeBron last season, but you’d be hard-pressed to find any Lakers fan who’d rather not trade for Davis because they want to keep Kuzma. It may end up coming out that it was all a negotiation tactic, and Rob Pelinka decided to take the traditional route of not giving up everyone immediately, a strategy Magic Johnson ineffectively deployed in February, if the rumored trade offers are to be believed. Either way, though, Los Angeles needs a star next to LeBron, or they waste another year of the best player of this generation. If Kuzma is the difference between getting that star, then the Lakers should pack his bags for him.