The Los Angeles Lakers signed Kyle Kuzma to a three-year, $40 million contract this week. In doing so, the team ended months of speculation regarding what it would do with its 25-year-old rising star who was entering a contract year.
Anthony Davis, who received a new deal of his own several weeks back, came out and publicly endorsed the decision.
“We’re excited to have him here,” Davis said.
“I know he’s excited to be here. And he’s a champion: You deserve it. I’m glad that the Lakers were able to work something out with him to be able to allow him to just go out there and play and not worry about contracts for the rest of the season.”
Earlier in the offseason the Lakers reached a similar agreement with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who signed a three-year contract worth $40 million. Caldwell-Pope and Kuzma offered comparable production in the playoffs last year, and each played a crucial role in the squad’s march to a 17th championship in franchise history.
The Lakers also signed LeBron James to a two-year, $85 million extension and Davis to a five-year, $190 million max deal.
The mystery of what Tyreek Hill was drinking on the sidelines has been solved. https://t.co/GmXi3qpRs6
— Game 7 (@game7__) December 21, 2020
While the latter two contracts were all but foregone conclusions, the Kuzma one was the subject of much debate.
Last year, Kuzma went from averaging 18.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists on 45.6 percent shooting from the field and 30.3 percent beyond the arc, to 12.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.3 assists on 43.6 percent shooting from the field and 31.6 percent from beyond the arc.
In the playoffs, Kuzma’s stats dipped even further. He averaged 10 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 0.8 assists per game on 43.0 percent shooting from the field and 31.3 percent from beyond the arc.
Should LeBron be suspended? The video speaks for itself. https://t.co/6VN3jINFwA
— Game 7 (@game7__) December 19, 2020
Since his rookie season Kuzma’s true shooting percentage, player efficiency rating and box plus/minus have all declined dramatically. He is arguably a worse player for LA’s system now than he was at any time prior.
All that being said, Kuzma has a strong preseason this year and will hopefully be more comfortable within the Lakers’ Davis and James-centered system in 2020-21 than he was 2019-20.
Will the team’s confidence in Kuzma’s continued growth ultimately be rewarded? Time will tell.