NBA players are still coming to grips with the risks of playing in Orlando after three months on the sidelines. One risk cited by some is an increased risk of injury, and it’s clearly at the forefront of the minds of young players in particular.
To that end, several young stars have asked NBPA officials about seeking league-financed insurance policies to protect them against career-ending injury, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. The group consisted of Bam Adebayo, De’Aaron Fox, Kyle Kuzma, Donovan Mitchell, and Jayson Tatum. All five are members of the 2017 draft class who have bright futures — and potentially huge contracts — ahead of them.
According to Wojnarowski, the NBA and NBPA have had preliminary dialogue about added protections in the event a player suffers a career-ending injury in Orlando. The five players are hoping that their collective voices influence the NBA’s thinking regarding the proposal’s importance to all players who plan to return to action.
While Mitchell doesn’t appear intent on sitting out the restarted season, he made it clear to other players that he has significant concerns about major injuries after a lengthy layoff. The NBA can’t do anything to truly eliminate that concern, but following through with what these players are asking for would definitely be a positive step.
LeBron James is still the King.
James put together an exemplary performance against the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday, scoring 28 points in a comeback victory. That was enough for teammate Kyle Kuzma to crown his teammate in victory.
Kuz crowned the King pic.twitter.com/Q9UMf5aZE9
— ESPN (@espn) March 8, 2020
It may be a response to a recent ad depicting Kawhi Leonard’s “reign” over Los Angeles. Either way, message sent.
The crown has certainly become an ongoing feature in recent weeks. We saw Giannis Antetokounmpo do it in response to James a few months ago. It’s safe to say, however, that James isn’t letting that crown go easily, and it is probably going to set up a very interesting set of playoff matchups in the months to come.
The New York Knicks are exploring potential ways to acquire Kyle Kuzma from the Los Angeles Lakers, but they may need to bring at least one other team into the talks in order to manufacture a deal.
The Knicks and Lakers have touched base about Kuzma, SNY’s Ian Begley confirms. It seems likely that the player going back to LA in the deal would be Marcus Morris, but Morris has a $15 million salary and Kuzma is still on a rookie contract. That means the Knicks would have to send multiple players to the Lakers and/or get a third team involved.
The Knicks’ interest in Kuzma was first reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic.
New York is said to be more open to trading Morris after president of basketball operations Steve Mills was fired on Tuesday. Their trade deadline talks have shifted now with Mills no longer making decisions, according to Begley.
It was initially believed that the Lakers were merely fielding calls about Kuzma, but general manager Rob Pelinka has reached out to at least one team to discuss the former No. 27 overall pick in recent weeks. If the Lakers can add a three-point shooter and/or more defense, they appear to be open to trading Kuzma.
The Los Angeles Lakers have reportedly been listening to trade offers for Kyle Kuzma, but their interest at this point has been described as mere due diligence. However, they make take a more active role in those discussions if they like what they hear.
The Sacramento Kings are among the teams that are said to have shown interest in Kuzma, with sources telling Marc Stein of the New York Times that they have tried to engage the Lakers in discussions. According to a report from Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times, it was actually Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka who reached out to the Kings to gauge their interest in Kuzma.
Obviously, there would be a big different between fielding a call and reaching out to a team about a potential trade. Ganguli was told by a person familiar with the Lakers’ trade deadline plans that they are interested in improving the “fringes” of their roster but will not make any dramatic changes. That means they are willing to listen to any offer that doesn’t involve LeBron James or Anthony Davis, but they could also start doing some shopping of their own.
The Lakers had to send a ton of draft capital to the New Orleans Pelicans for Davis, so Kuzma is one of their best remaining assets. His numbers have dipped a bit this season to 12.0 points per game from 18.7 points per game last year, but that is because the 6-foot-8 forward is now playing in a reserve role. Kuzma has already shown he can produce as a starter, which makes the 24-year-old appealing to other teams. He’s also owed just $1.9 million this year and $3.5 million next season.
Some have wondered if there could be tension between James and Kuzma after the way Kuzma’s agent called out LeBron recently, but that is apparently not an issue. In reality, Pelinka probably realized teams are interested in Kuzma and knows the Lakers could use a three-point shooter and/or some more defense. If you can improve a clear championship contender, you need to explore all options for doing so.
Teams reportedly have shown trade interest in Kyle Kuzma, and the Sacramento Kings are one of them, according to a report.
The New York Times’ Marc Stein reported on Monday that the Kings have shown interest in trading for Kuzma and would likely have to include Bogdan Bogdanovic in a deal.
Sacramento is among the teams that has tried to engage the Lakers in Kyle Kuzma trade talks, league sources say. The Kings know they would have to include sharpshooter (and soon-to-be restricted free agent) Bogdan Bogdanovic, for starters, in a Kuzma deal
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) January 6, 2020
A separate report from Sam Amick on Sunday said the Lakers were listening to trade inquiries on Kuzma, which is different from actively shopping him.
The Lakers would probably want to add more three-point shooting and defense in any deal they do. Because of all the draft picks they dealt to New Orleans to get Anthony Davis, they don’t have many options when it comes to trades, so that makes Kuzma a possibility to be dealt. Kuzma is a good, young player averaging 12.1 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. He also comes cheap at $1.9 million this year and $3.5 million next season, which makes him attractive to teams.
Current Kings coach Luke Walton coached Kuzma on the Lakers the last two seasons, which could help explain their interest in the forward.
Teams have been keeping an eye on Kyle Kuzma in case the young forward becomes available before the trade deadline next month, and apparently the Los Angeles Lakers have not completely ruled out moving him.
The Lakers have shown a willingness to listen to trade inquiries involving Kuzma, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic. It is believed that general manager Rob Pelinka is only doing due diligence at this point, but that at least means the Lakers do not consider Kuzma to be off-limits.
Kuzma’s numbers are down this season, which was expected after the addition of Anthony Davis. He is averaging 12.1 points and 3.5 rebounds per game after averaging 18.7 points and 5.5 rebounds last season. If the Lakers sign Davis to an extension after the season, Kuzma will be remaining in a sixth man role for the foreseeable future.
As Amick notes, Kuzma will be eligible for a contract extension this summer and will be a restricted free agent in 2021. He’s owed just $1.9 million this season and $3.5 million next, but he will become more expensive after that. If a team offers him a hefty contract, the Lakers may not want to match it. It’s also possible that Kuzma will not want to remain with LA when he could start elsewhere.
Whether the team admits it or not, LeBron has some influence over how the Lakers’ roster will be constructed going forward. Some have wondered if there could be tension between James and Kuzma after the way Kuzma’s agent called out LeBron recently, but Amick reports that LeBron “remains supportive of Kuzma” even after that.
A Kuzma trade remains unlikely, but nothing can be ruled out with a team that is trying to contend for championships in the short term. If the Lakers are presented with an opportunity to improve their starting five by dealing Kuzma, they may be tempted.
Say goodbye to the Kyle Kuzma of old and say hello to the blonde Kyle Kuzma of new.
Kuzma played in the Los Angeles Lakers’ game against the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night and debuted a new hair do. Rather than his natural dark brown hair color, he had a blond look.
Kuzma got the worst barber in the league pic.twitter.com/ztR14fcowo
— Chris Montano (@gswchris) January 2, 2020
Kuzma instantly drew comparisons to Eminem and others.
As the newly blonde Kyle Kuzma went to the free throw line, a guy in the crowd shouted "WILL THE REAL SLIM SHADY PLEASE STAND UP." Lakers bench started cracking up. Kuz smiled.
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) January 2, 2020
Here are some of the tweets on the subject:
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) January 2, 2020
My guy Kuzma needs a new barber asap pic.twitter.com/kiF13x3FL9
— 𝘑𝘢𝘤𝘬 (@KennardSZN) December 31, 2019
Kyle Kuzma so looks like a Golden Lord… pic.twitter.com/JvwMqOzeX4
— New Era Radio🇬🇾🇵🇷🇨🇼 (@NewEraRadio) January 2, 2020
Kyle Kuzma doesn’t know what he wants to do with his hair. He’s out there looking like Sang from “Rush Hour” now.
— shannon sharpe (@ShannonSharpe) January 2, 2020
Kuzma out there looking like Sang from Rush Hour pic.twitter.com/PomTfDPbt8
— Terrence (@PushaTerrence) January 2, 2020
What do you think of his new hair?