The Lakers barely got time to see the confetti reach the ground from their 2020 NBA Championship win before the preparations for their defense began. Considering how the roster had a very makeshift look this season, a lot of players are about to enter free agency. Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard, and others are all possibly leaving LA this off-season.
However, there are two more players from the rotation that LA has to be worried about. The first is Kyle Kuzma. Kuzma is eligible for his first rookie extension this off-season and has expressed a desire to get paid. The second is Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. KCP was one of the most important Lakers rotational players in their championship push this season. He will be a free agent if he opts out of his $8 million player option.
Kyle Kuzma is looking for a ‘sizable deal’ from the Lakers, per Brian Windhorst
“From what I understand, [he] is expecting a sizable deal, hoping for a sizable deal.”
(h/t @LakersSBN ) pic.twitter.com/9l9XMuzIre
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) November 10, 2020
Now that Kuzma wants to be paid and KCP has to be paid, what do the Lakers do? Do they re-sign one and say goodbye to the other? Or do they try to keep both of them to keep their championship core intact?
Lakers and their free agency dilemma
With KCP and Kuzma, they have two valuable rotational players with different functions. Kuzma has shown the ability to be an impactful scorer behind LeBron James and Anthony Davis, as he plays best in the two positions they occupy.
KCP is a guard who showed more value to the Lakers in the bubble. However, Kuzma is a younger player and has shown flashes that have brought him in a position to demand more money.
Considering the Lakers also have to plan for a LeBron-less future, they should try to see if Kuzma can stick around. If not, Kuzma would be a more valuable trade asset if he was commanding a larger salary. KCP may not have the same trade value as the younger Kuzma, but championship teams would love to have someone like him.
Our solution is simple. Pay both of them and work around the roster. Either man then also becomes a valuable trade asset if the situation isn’t working out. Kuzma has shown inconsistent play, but the Lakers will hope those are just growing pains for him.
KCP can slot into any team. Considering how he performed in LA, it’ll be best if they keep him and the chemistry of the team high, especially if they may lose Rondo and Dwight.
Kuzma averaged 10 points and under one assist a game in the playoffs. At the same time, KCP averaged 10.7 points in the playoffs, shooting 37.8% from three.
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