Puma’s expansion into the basketball world appears to be continuing.
Puma is close to signing Kyle Kuzma to an endorsement deal, according to The New York Times’ Marc Stein.
Hearing some buzz from the shoe game since arriving in China: Puma is closing in on a deal to sign the Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma .. who was forced to withdraw from Team USA last month with an ankle injury
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) September 11, 2019
Puma has long been a popular sports apparel brand, but they hadn’t been involved in basketball in around 20 years until re-entering the marketplace last year. They signed players such as Marvin Bagley, Deandre Ayton, Zhaire Smith, and Michael Porter Jr., and have since added more athletes, like RJ Barrett, DeMarcus Cousins, Danny Green, Kevin Knox, Rudy Gay and Terry Rozier.
In February, Puma announced that they had become an official partner of the NBA.
Kuzma would be Puma’s third Lakers player, joining Cousins and Green.
Gregg Popovich seems truly bummed out about Kyle Kuzma being cut by Team USA due to an ankle injury.
USA Basketball finalized the roster of 12 players that will be part of Team USA competing at the FIBA World Cup next weekend. Kuzma, who had been with USA Basketball in training camp and did not play in an exhibition game against Australia due to his ankle, did not make the cut.
In comments shared by MassLive.com’s John Karalis, Popovich expressed his “disappointment” over Kuzma being hurt.
Pop on Kuzma cont: …"So, hopefully, he’ll heal quickly. But, he was wonderful while he was here, and we do miss him." (2/2)
— John Karalis 🇬🇷 (@RedsArmy_John) August 25, 2019
Los Angeles Lakers fans should be somewhat concerned too. While some wondered if the ankle injury was a cover for cutting Kuzma, Popovich saying the injury could hold Kuzma back for the start of the season signifies how real it is.
The 24-year-old was one of the few remaining players on the Lakers after their huge Anthony Davis trade during the summer. He says he is taking on a leadership role with the team, which is full of many new faces. Kuzma averaged 18.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game last season.
Kyle Kuzma has only been teammates with Anthony Davis for a little over a month, but he is already getting some good digs in.
Addressing reporters on Tuesday at Team USA camp in Las Vegas, the Los Angeles Lakers forward clowned his new frontcourt mate for skipping out.
“It’s lonely,” said Kuzma of being the only Laker to participate, per Kyle Goon of Southern California News Group. “My boy AD was supposed to come, but he had other plans.”
Davis, who was traded to the Lakers earlier this summer, was one of countless superstar withdrawals from USA Basketball, including LeBron James, Damian Lillard, Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry, and Kevin Love. Kuzma, meanwhile, is getting his first taste of international basketball experience at 24 years old.
The 6-foot-9 forward being the Lakers’ sole representative on Team USA does seem a bit odd, and it is not the only thing about the team that Kuzma is (albeit jokingly) upset about.
New murals have been popping up all around Los Angeles amid one of the most insane NBA offseasons in the sport’s history, and even Kyle Kuzma has been included in the artwork. He just wishes he looked a little more ripped.
The latest Lakers-themed mural that was painted in LA features Kuzma, LeBron James and Anthony Davis. While the 23-year-old seems flattered to be considered part of a “big three” with his All-NBA teammates, he joked on Twitter that the mural has him “looking fluffy.”
Y’all got me out here looking flufffy. But this is dope tho https://t.co/uknrQDBguT
— kuz (@kylekuzma) July 21, 2019
For what it’s worth, the photo Kuzma shared was not of the finished product. He may have felt a bit differently when he saw the shading and detail that was added:
— Rey_ELBarbon (@Rey_ElBarbon) July 22, 2019
Either way, Kuzma has to be feeling great about his current situation. The former No. 27 overall pick probably could not have envisioned that he would be featured on a mural alongside LeBron and Davis entering his third NBA season, and he already seems to be trying to step up and play the role of leader. You know what would be a lot worse than looking “fluffy” on a mural? Not being on a mural at all.
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Kyle Kuzma may only be 23 and have just two years of NBA experience, but that’s not stopping him from taking on a leadership role with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Danny Green, who agreed to a two-year, $30 million contract with the Lakers in free agency, spoke on his “Inside The Green Room” podcast Tuesday and praised Kuzma for the leadership he’s already shown.
“Kuz has taken kind actually kind of a leadership role for a young guy and putting us together. He put a little group chat together, make sure everyone knew whose number was who. He reached out to let everybody know where to be in the summer,” Green said.
"Kuz has been taking a leadership role for a young guy. He put a little group chat together and made sure everyone knew who's number is who. Bron was really good with the process and keeping me patient."
— ShowtimeForum (@ShowtimeForum) July 10, 2019
Green also credited LeBron James for helping him remain patient throughout the free agency process. Green was one of the players in limbo until Kawhi Leonard announced his decision.
The Lakers traded away most of their players during the offseason — first to New Orleans for Anthony Davis, and then to Washington to clear more salary cap space for a third max player. Kuzma was one of the few remaining players the Lakers kept, along with LeBron. That makes him a core player and likely explains why he took on that role. But in the days after Kawhi Leonard’s move to the Clippers was announced, the Lakers brought back several members from last season’s team, including Rajon Rondo, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee, and Alex Caruso, so they will have some continuity despite having a new coach and mostly a new roster.
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Things could not have gotten any more embarrassing for the New York Knicks than the result of this year’s free agency.
The Brooklyn Nets are landing Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan in free agency, making them officially the team in New York rather than the Knicks. The Knicks cleared all sorts of salary cap space to prepare for this summer, even trading away Kristaps Porzingis to make room for a second max contract slot. And they end up with nothing, while in a most embarrassing fashion, the newcomer in the town gets the two players they wanted.
Kyle Kuzma, who is on the Los Angeles Lakers, laughed at the Knicks’ misfortune via Twitter:
Knicks can’t catch a break lol
— kuz (@kylekuzma) June 30, 2019
It’s not really about the Knicks not catching breaks. This is their own undoing. They have an awful owner who constantly embarrasses himself publicly and makes the team look horrible. They’ve been mismanaged for years. Maybe this might be somewhat of a wake-up call for the franchise.
The Los Angeles Lakers are involved in trade talks with the New Orleans Pelicans for Anthony Davis, and some information about players they’re willing to include in a deal is being reported.
The New York Times’ Marc Stein reported on Wednesday that the Lakers are willing to include Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram in deals, as well as the No. 4 overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft. Interestingly, Stein says it seems like the Lakers are trying to keep Kyle Kuzma out of trade talks.
My sense is that the Lakers, to this point, have tried to keep Kyle Kuzma out of the talks and the full package New Orleans would receive in an Anthony Davis deal obviously depends on what the third team provides
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 12, 2019
During the reported trade talks between the Lakers and Pelicans prior to the trade deadline earlier this season, the Lakers were said to have made nearly everyone on their roster available, including Kuzma. It’s unclear whether their mind has changed, Magic Johnson’s resignation, or any other factor is playing a role in this.
Kuzma and Ball are under team control for an extra year over Ingram, who was drafted the year before. Kuzma is also the cheapest of the three and a relative bargain at his salary. He is on schedule to earn about a third of what Ball will be earning on his rookie deal.
The big kicker that could affect a trade is the No. 4 pick. Stein believes if the Pelicans feel they can draft a potential All-Star with the pick, they would find a way to make a deal.