The Lakers started the 2019/20 NBA season in a great way, even having the best record in the league for some time. However, the last couple of days haven’t been the best for the Purple and Gold, who have lost four games in a row.
Now it’s clear they need a third-string to contribute with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. It was believed that Kyle Kuzma was going to be that third figure at the Staples Center, but LA general manager Rob Pelinka is still interested in upgrading his roster. Kuz was great against the Clippers on Christmas Day, scoring 25 points.
However, that doesn’t seem to be enough for Pelinka. Further, any move they try to make won’t come until closer to the February trade deadline, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic.
The Lakers need a legitimate third scorer, ball-handling help and outside shooting. Kuzma is 24, is under contract for $3.6 million next season and, as he showed on Christmas, has a potentially huge upside. He is the young player teams would want if the Lakers pursue a major upgrade come February.
The Lakers’ other chief potential trade chip is Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who makes $8.1 million this season with a player option for $8.5 million next year. But he would have to approve a trade. Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka is interested in upgrading his team, but activity likely won’t come until closer to the deadline. Caldwell-Pope, by the way, scored 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting. The Lakers got little from Danny Green (2 of 8) and Avery Bradley (1 of 5).
Despite having lost the last four games, the Lakers remain the best team in the West with a 24-7 record.
Now, the best way for the Lakers to boost their title chances is by moving on from Kyle Kuzma and gaining a third "impact" player to join James and Davis. As good as Kuzma is, he does not make the impact of an All-Star player for the Lakers. If the Lakers can get a third star, similar to how they tried to do in the offseason, they would be in much better shape to handle the Clippers depth in the Playoffs.
Kuzma is averaging 11.9 PPG on 43.8% FG PCT from the field. While he has been limited to only 23 MPG due to injury, he has not lit up the league as expected so far. The Lakers have a nice supporting cast of defensive specialists and some knockdown shooters, but they need a third scorer to relieve pressure off of an injury-prone to Anthony Davis and an aging LeBron James.