‘Tough being little bro’: Amid commerce rumors, Kuzma displays on Lakers tenure

The irony is not misplaced on Kyle Kuzma. 

After being on the buying and selling block for just about his complete four-season profession with the Los Angeles Lakers, the Lakers have now reportedly inquired about buying him from the Washington Wizards, as Bleacher Report first reported. 

“I think it just shows you the grass is not always greener,” Kuzma informed FOX Sports activities. “It’s definitely a good thing because at the end of the day, that means I’ve been playing well, and I have value in this league, that a team would want to trade for me. It’s a blessing.”

Kuzma, who’s averaging career-highs in factors (21.4), subject objective proportion (46.2%), assists (3.6) and minutes (35) this season for the Wizards, seems to be again on his time with the Lakers from 2017-2021 as a combined bag. 

After the Lakers traded for him in 2017 — Kuzma was drafted by Brooklyn with the twenty seventh decide within the 2017 draft — he went on to win a championship in 2020 alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. However he was continually underneath fireplace concerning whether or not he was dwelling as much as the expectation of changing into the workforce’s third-scorer. 

Kuzma grew to become an essential position participant for the Lakers, however enjoying behind two superstars, he did not develop into the kind of participant he was projected — or needed — to turn into. 

“It’s a double-edged sword, a double-edged sword, for sure,” Kuzma mentioned. “I believe that it was some of the best things to ever happen to me, you know, getting drafted, being a Laker, having that platform. Having millions and millions of people globally know who you are, that’s a blessing. That’s part of being a Laker. Learning from LeBron, winning a championship — it’s all been great. 

“However on the similar time, I all the time look again and want I’d’ve gotten the fairer finish of the stick slightly bit, simply with my position and the way a lot I sacrificed. It is cool to sacrifice. That is the one method you win championships, everyone has to sacrifice. However, simply getting the fairer finish of the stick, I really feel like I by no means actually received [that]. However the whole lot occurs for a cause. I am right here now [in Washington], and I have been in a position to increase my sport and flourish.”

When asked what he meant by not getting the fair end of the stick, Kuzma intimated that he felt stifled to an extent having to constantly adjust to the needs of the team on any given night as opposed to being able to find a rhythm and play his game. 

“Within the place I used to be in, it was robust being that little bro on the workforce,” Kuzma said. “One evening, you may get 10 photographs. The following evening, possibly they simply want you to rebound. The following evening, you may get quarter-hour. The following evening, you may get 29 [minutes]. You by no means know. That is [not getting] the honest finish of the stick.”

” … After I was within the second and I used to be younger, [I was] pissed off numerous nights as a result of, man, I actually need this. I actually need this. All people who is aware of me is aware of I am actually aggressive. I actually love basketball. Plenty of nights it bothered me that I by no means received the possibility to do what I am doing now, play me.” 

In his final season with the Lakers from 2020-21, Kuzma averaged 12.9 points on 44.3% shooting, 6.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 28.7 minutes, starting in 32 of 68 games. That season, he was the sixth-leading scorer on the Lakers behind James, Davis, Dennis Schroder, Andre Drummond and Talen Horton-Tucker.

After the Lakers were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, they decided to make a blockbuster trade for Russell Westbrook in August 2021, sending Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Montrezl Harrell and a draft pick to the Wizards in exchange for the nine-time All-Star point guard. 

Shortly after Kuzma got traded, he wrote an article in the Players’ Tribune detailing what being a Laker meant to him. His dream came true of going out to dinner with Kobe Bryant. He marveled at how he was able to learn from James, Davis and Rajon Rondo. And he was deeply honored that he was a part of one of the most legendary franchises in sports winning its 17th title. 

“As soon as a Laker, all the time a Laker,” he wrote. 

But even though Kuzma is now playing for a Wizards team that has lost eight games in a row and is in 12th place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 11-18, Kuzma said changing teams was necessary for his personal growth. Now, he’s one of the team’s main options, alongside Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis. 

“I wanted this,” Kuzma said. “This transfer right here has been so instrumental in my life, simply being extra mature. I like basketball, however I find it irresistible much more now. I like my craft, I like getting within the gymnasium each single day. Being within the gymnasium, being in any such state of affairs — seeing how good I can turn into has made me be actually obsessive with attempting to enhance and higher myself.”

Kuzma said his game has grown in just about every area over the past two seasons. He’s now a more complete player, meaning a better scorer, defender, rebounder, passer and leader. 

Even though playing for the Wizards has opened up Kuzma’s game, he plans to decline his player option for the 2023-24 season to become an unrestricted free agent this summer and potentially increase his earning potential, as first reported by The Athletic

In turn, the Wizards could explore the trade market for Kuzma to ensure they don’t lose him for nothing in return. That being said, Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. hopes Kuzma will remain with the team. 

“I might like to have him,” Unseld said. “A man together with his talent set and skill, he does rather a lot for us on each ends.”

The Lakers, meanwhile, could use help with spot-up shooting and defense, areas in which Kuzma excels. They’re currently in 12th place in the Western Conference with a record of 11-16. 

Kuzma said it has been hard watching the Lakers struggle so much despite having two of the top players in the league on their roster. Last season, they had championship expectations but failed to even make the playoffs. 

“It is laborious to look at,” Kuzma said. “These are your brothers. These are my brothers for all times. I received a championship with them. So, naturally, I all the time wish to see them do good. Being wholesome, that is been a difficulty for them, [as well as] roster make-up for them, all this different stuff. I wish to see them do properly. These are my guys.”

In reality, Kuzma mentioned he is nonetheless shut with James and Davis. 

“I speak to them on a regular basis,” he said, adding that they regularly exchange messages on Instagram, and he often seeks their advice.  

Since Kuzma was traded from the Lakers, he hasn’t looked back. But now it appears as though that door is being cracked open, which leaves room for him to explore “what ifs.”

When asked if he believes the Lakers could’ve competed for another title last season had the Westbrook deal never happened, Kuzma shrugged. 

“Cannot say that,” he said. “That is very robust. Depends upon if individuals are wholesome or not. … We’d’ve been a strong workforce regardless, for positive. As I have been rising into who I’m, and if they’d’ve allowed me to develop that method, you by no means know what might’ve occurred.”

Melissa Rohlin is an NBA writer for FOX Sports. She previously covered the league for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times, the Bay Area News Group and the San Antonio Express-News. Follow her on Twitter @melissarohlin.

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