Now that the Lakers have LeBron James, Magic Johnson and Co. will probably be focusing on a trade for Kawhi Leonard, who reportedly remains intent on ending up in Los Angeles. For now, though, it doesn’t look like a trade is close.
The Lakers have several young assets that should interest the Spurs – Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Julius Randle, Josh Hart – but the Lakers don’t appear to be willing to give up enough to entice San Antonio to pull the trigger.
One of those young Lakers players is reportedly already being labeled “off limits” in trade discussions.
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith is reporting that Los Angeles has told San Antonio that young forward Kyle Kuzma is unavailable.
“They’ve [Lakers] been willing to offer what they consider to be a fair package but they’ve made it very clear to San Antonio that Kyle Kuzma is off limits…they’re not letting go of Kuzma,” Smith said on ESPN this morning.
“They’ve [Lakers] been willing to offer what they consider to be a fair package but they’ve made it very clear to San Antonio that Kyle Kuzma is off limits…they’re not letting go of Kuzma.”
– @stephenasmith on the Lakers not wanting to trade Kuzma
— ESPNLosAngeles (@ESPNLosAngeles) July 2, 2018
Ingram and Ball might be labeled as prospects with higher ceilings than Kuzma, but the Lakers are clearly extremely high on their 22-year-old forward.
Kuzma, a rookie out of Utah, averaged 16 points and 6 rebounds a game for the Lakers this past season. The Lakers’ first-year player was the No. 27 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.
He seems very excited about playing alongside James on the Lakers next season, too. He posted the following photo on Instagram on Sunday night.
“WE BACK,” he wrote.
The Lakers might actually be better off holding onto all of their young players and just signing Leonard in free agency next summer. A LeBron-Kawhi-Ingram-Ball-Kuzma core is a ridiculously promising one to build around.