It’s too early to declare that Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma can’t be effective alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis, writes Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. He notes that Kuzma missed training camp because of a foot injury he suffered with Team USA and didn’t get a chance to develop chemistry with his All-Star teammates. Kuzma has been mentioned as a possible trade option, but coach Frank Vogel says his value to the team is increasing.
“His rhythm is growing, with our offense, with his new teammates, with the defensive schemes,” Vogel said. “All those things when they change frequently for a young player, it can be a challenge. But I think he is coming around … he has got to make the right plays. Sometimes that means you don’t take as many shots because the defense is rotating to you or double teaming you. That’s something we preach to the whole team … it’s not different with Kyle. Some nights he is going to facilitate more, some nights he is going to be the recipient more.”
Mannix believes the Lakers will decide to keep Kuzma and hope he becomes a consistent third scoring option. He points out that Kuzma is only 24 and is trying to find his role on a team that has undergone considerable changes in the last two offseasons.
There’s more Lakers news to pass along:
- After James passed Kobe Bryant last night to move into third place on the career scoring list, the all-time record now seems attainable, states Ben Golliver of The Washington Post. James remains at the top of his game at age 35 and is averaging more than 25 PPG for the 16th straight season. He needs 4,733 points to catch Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, which would mean averaging about 20 PPG for three more years.
- Sean Deveney of Heavy examines whether the Lakers are willing to pay Dwight Howard enough to keep him when he becomes a free agent this summer. A rival executive tells Deveney that Howard should be able to demand “a good part” of L.A.’s $9.7MM mid-level exception. “I am very happy here,” Howard said of L.A. “I like being here, I am having fun being here. I don’t know what is going to happen in the future, but I know I can’t think about that or focus on it. I am just focused on being here.”
- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has overcome a rough start to become an important contributor, writes Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. He has also quieted the boos at Staples Center that were frequent when his shot was misfiring early in the season. “He trusts his talent,” assistant coach Jason Kidd said. “He’s done what we’ve asked him to do, from coming off the bench to starting, to coming off again. That’s a true pro.”