When his name popped up in Anthony Davis-related trade rumors a year ago, Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma followed the NBA rumor mill with interest, but ultimately stayed put even when the team swung a deal for Davis in the summer. Kuzma has once again been identified as a potential trade candidate this season, but he believes he has gotten better at blocking out that speculation this time around, per Bill Oram of The Athletic.
“I consumed it more last year,” he said. “This year is different I don’t care at all, but last year it was new and foreign, so it was like more of a can’t-really-escape-it thing. But for me it’s a little bit easier now. I don’t really have my Twitter like that. I don’t really use it.”
As Oram notes, the Lakers are no longer in developmental mode like they were in Kuzma’s first year or two in the league, and the third-year forward is one of the only young players left on the roster. As such, the club needs Kuzma to be on its timeline, which has put some added pressure on him this season. He has done his best to live up to those expectations.
“Everybody knows that I’m a learner and I want to become a good player,” Kuzma said. “So everybody’s helping me. I think it reflects in my game all the way down from my defense learning from Avery (Bradley), Dwight (Howard), A.D. and offensively just slowing down, develop my pick-and-roll game from other guys.”
Here’s more from around the Pacific:
- The Clippers have moved into a tie for second place in the Western Conference with a 30-13 record, but it hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing for the franchise in the first season of its new super-team era, writes ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. After a first half that saw players express frustration about a lack of cohesion and Doc Rivers express annoyance at inconsistent effort, the club will be looking to put it all together in the second half as the postseason approaches.
- Chris Iseman of NorthJersey.com provides an interesting behind-the-scenes look at how Lawrence Frank ascended to the top of the Clippers‘ front office after a long career as a coach. As Iseman details, the Clippers’ current president of basketball operations was initially reluctant to take on the role due to his lack of management experience.
- The Kings have already made one significant trade this winter, sending three players to Portland for Kent Bazemore, Anthony Tolliver, and two second-round picks. However, they may not be done. James Ham of NBC Sports California previews the trade deadline for Sacramento, exploring what moves could be coming next.