25-year-old Kyle Kuzma is currently the Lakers' longest-tenured player, but his future in Los Angeles has been shrouded in doubt since the arrival of LeBron James in 2018.
While he has yet to be traded in this offseason, Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports thinks the Lakeshow could use him as a “key sign and trade piece” to acquire a third star in 2021.
“As a free agent in 2021, the Lakers could use Kuzma as a key sign and trade piece. He’ll be eligible for a contract all the way up to the max, but seems more likely to settle in somewhere around $20 million or so. If LA needs him for depth, they’ll re-sign Kuzma and keep him. If not, he could be signed and traded to bring a star to Hollywood or to add two to three players to flesh out the rotation, with $20 million going a long way in salary-matching.”
The Lakers have been on the hunt for a third star since last summer when they were among the two finalists for the services of Kawhi Leonard.
Even without Kawhi, the Lakers were able to get the job done, thanks to the combined powers of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. But with James turning 36 this month, one has to wonder how many years he has left as an elite player. If the Lakers have the opportunity to trade for another star next summer, it could help offset James' decline.
Kuzma, as a restricted free agent, could be the way for LA to acquire an asset via a sign and trade in a free-agent market that includes Giannis Antetokounmpo, Paul George, and Kawhi Leonard.