Kyle Kuzma agrees to three-year, $40-million contract extension with Lakers
It doesn’t matter that Kyle Kuzma doesn’t know his role. He knows his worth, and the Lakers apparently agree.
“I have no idea,” Kuzma said when asked about it Wednesday. “We’ll see.”
Kuzma’s extension includes a player option after the second year, people with knowledge of the deal said. Kuzma started all four games this preseason and averaged 17.5 points while shooting 41.7% from three-point range.
Kyle Kuzma has been consistent throughout the preseason but his role with the Lakers is still a question mark.
The No. 27 pick in the 2017 draft, Kuzma is the last remaining link to the Lakers’ painful rebuild as the team tried to bridge the gap between Kobe Bryant and its next star, LeBron James. All the Lakers’ first-round picks of those lean years have been traded or let go.
“It is especially gratifying for our Lakers franchise to draft, develop and now sign one of our own to a contract extension,” Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said in a statement. “Kyle has shown tremendous growth over the last three years, and played a crucial role on last season’s championship team. Kyle has been a terrific member of the Lakers community and we are all very excited about his continued future with us.”
After averaging 16.1 points as a rookie and 18.7 points in his second season, Kuzma settled into a smaller role in his third year, primarily coming off the bench to average 12.8 points behind James and Anthony Davis.
While Kuzma’s scoring and minutes dipped and his three-point shooting remained spotty (31.6%), his aggressiveness and defensive improvements were enough for the Lakers to commit to him long term.
The move keeps Kuzma, 25, from entering restricted free agency at the end of this season.
“It’s good for him. You don’t have that contract anxiety for the whole year,” Davis said. “Now that it’s out of the way, you can go out there and play, which he was doing anyway. He was having a great preseason. He’s been playing great for us in the bubble and all of last year. He’s locked in. …
“We’re excited to have him here. 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.”
Davis from deep
Davis acknowledged Sunday he talked with Paul George about teaming up in Indiana years ago when the current Clippers star played for the Pacers.
“It was a conversation for sure. It kind of just faded away,” Davis said. “I’m not sure what happened on their end. He said that management didn’t want to do it, or whatever. But it was a conversation.”
With those talks long in the past and a new $190-million extension in place, Davis said he’s been having conversations with the Lakers about his future and how more of it could be spent beyond the three-point line. Davis said Vogel wants him to take at least five threes per game this year.
Davis shot 33% on threes last season while taking a career-high 3.5 per game.
“Constantly just shooting the ball with confidence and just letting it fly,” Davis said. “Honestly, the team, the players want me to shoot it. They have a lot of confidence in me. So I just have to be able to be confident enough to go out there and shoot the ball.”
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