The summer of 2019 saw the Los Angeles Lakers make a move that changed the trajectory of their franchise. After drafting well with lottery picks in the late-Kobe era of the team. With a roster full of young pieces and draft assets, the team signed LeBron James in 2018 as a free agent.
After a season where the Lakers missed the playoffs because of the core outside LeBron being young and losing momentum after a groin injury, the team decided to send a monster package to New Orleans for Anthony Davis. The Lakers sent multiple picks and talented youngsters in Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, and Josh Hart to the Pelicans.
Kyle Kuzma was spared from the purge and went on to win a championship with AD and LeBron in the 19-20 season. Kuzma spoke about what being the one player chosen to stay for the championship roster meant to him.
"They believed I am a winning player and that I can bring a championship to this organization. None of this was ever said but I am reading your actions. Your actions are telling me you believe in me. You didn't trade me away, whatever role I may put in, you think that's going to help y'all win a championship. So that just gave me even more confidence. Sh*t, it worked out.
Kuzma eventually got traded from the Lakers in 2021 to acquire Russell Westbrook, but he looks back at his time in LA positively. He got to learn from both Kobe Bryant and LeBron James and got to win a championship for one of the most historic franchises in the NBA.
He has to prove he can match the production of the likes of Ingram, who's emerged as an All-Star in New Orleans. With Washington, Kuzma has an opportunity to break out next to Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis.