Kyle Kuzma

Kyle Kuzma Signs With CAA For Representation

Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma has signed with CAA Basketball for his on- and off-court representation, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). According to Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times (via Twitter), Leon Rose will be Kuzma’s new primary agent.

Kuzma parted ways with agents Mark Bartelstein and Zach Kurtin of Priority Sports and Entertainment last month, with Ganguli tweeting at the time that the young forward had “an eye toward growing his business interests.”

Rose will add Kuzma to his impressive – and lengthy – list of NBA clients, which includes a handful of players on maximum-salary contracts: Karl-Anthony Towns, Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and Joel Embiid. Kuzma’s former teammate Lonzo Ball reportedly signed with Rose earlier this year as well.

Kuzma, who was the last player removed from Team USA’s World Cup squad due to a minor left ankle injury, will become eligible for a rookie scale extension next July. If he doesn’t sign a new deal during the 2020 offseason, he’d be on track to reach restricted free agency during the summer of 2021.

Kyle Kuzma Out For Team USA; World Cup Roster Finalized

One day after Kyle Kuzma was ruled out of Saturday’s Team USA exhibition against Australia due to left ankle soreness, the Lakers forward will not participate in the tournament, USA Basketball announced.

Thus, Team USA’s roster for China has been finalized and will be comprised of the following players:

Kemba Walker, Derrick White, Marcus Smart, Joe Harris, Donovan Mitchell, Jaylen Brown, Khris Middleton, Jayson Tatum, Harrison Barnes, Brook Lopez, Mason Plumlee and Myles Turner.

After a series of injuries and players pulling out of the tournament, Team USA has assembled its complete roster. After one final exhibition game against Canada in Sydney on Monday, Team USA will head to China aiming for gold.

Pacific Notes: Cousins, Kuzma, Fox, Suns

NBA players and coaches sent messages of sympathy to Lakers center DeMarcus Cousins after news broke that he suffered an ACL tear that may sideline him for the entire season, relays Sam Amick of The Athletic. Team USA was working out in the Lakers’ practice facility when the news broke on Thursday.

“I’m devastated for DeMarcus,” said Steve Kerr, who coached Cousins with the Warriors last season. “It’s been a couple years of hell for DeMarcus with the injuries, first the Achilles and then last year in the playoffs with the quad. I was really hoping that this would be a year for him upcoming with the Lakers where he could get healthy, get his rhythm, get his conditioning and really start his comeback. We’re all crushed for him, everybody in this gym, all these fellow players and coaches.”

Along with the physical toll, the injuries have impacted Cousins financially as he appeared to be in line for a max contract last summer that would have paid $207MM him over five years if he had stayed healthy. Now he may be looking at another veteran’s minimum deal in 2020.

“It hurt, man, breaks my heart,” Rockets forward P.J. Tucker said. “DeMarcus is such a good guy. He’s one of the best bigs I’ve ever played against — ever. He’s amazing. And to see somebody like that get hurt, fight to come back, get in shape, lose weight, do all this stuff, and then get hurt again, man, it’s heartbreaking, honestly.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Cousins’ injury may force Lakers teammate Kyle Kuzma into significant minutes at center, and he tells Amick that he’s using his time with Team USA to get ready for that possibility. “One thing that’s going to prepare me well playing with USA Basketball is they really like my versatility and how I can play the three, four and put me at the five a little bit,” Kuzma said. “Last year, I didn’t really have experience with that, but now USA Basketball is allowing me to work on those things. And if (Lakers coach Frank) Vogel wants me to do that, that’s what I gotta do.”
  • The combination of a tough travel schedule and no guarantee of playing time may have convinced De’Aaron Fox to leave Team USA, suggests James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area. The Americans will spend 12 days in Australia and maybe 17 days in China, then the Kings have a preseason trip to India. Ham notes that amounts to about 40,000 air miles before the season begins.
  • The Suns are poised to make the biggest improvement this season, according to projections from Kevin Pelton of ESPN. His formula has Phoenix doubling its win total from 19 to 38.

World Cup Notes: Kuzma, Barnes, Belinelli, K. Antetokounmpo

Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma helped his bid to earn a World Cup roster spot in Team USA’s exhibition opener, writes Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. Playing in front of front of a partisan crowd in Anaheim that chanted for him every time he touched the ball, Kuzma contributed seven points, five rebounds and three assists in Friday’s win over Spain.

Kuzma is considered on the bubble to make the final roster, even after a series of big-name stars pulled out. He says he’s following the orders of coaches Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr, who have asked him to contribute in non-glamorous parts of the game such as defense, rebounding, getting loose balls and making the right decision when the ball is in his hands.

“I’m not one to really grade my performances, but I think my energy was at a high level,” Kuzma said after the game. “That’s the only thing I can really control.”

There’s more World Cup news to pass along:

  • Defections of top talent have led to skepticism about whether this version of Team USA can bring home a gold medal, but Harrison Barnes tells Marc Spears of ESPN that the players are using that as motivation. De’Aaron Fox and P.J. Tucker were the latest players to announce that they’re leaving the team“We hear the noise,” Barnes said. “It’s just about the 14 guys that we got here right now, and when we go to Australia (for exhibition games), it’s about just us, getting better, continuing to grow closer on and off the floor, and we’ll go from there.”
  • Italy is adopting a similar attitude about being ranked 11th in the field, relays Ennio Terrasi Borghesan of Sportando. Spurs guard Marco Belinelli explained the team’s mindset in an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport. “I’ve seen it on Instagram and immediately took a screenshot, saving it on my phone”, Belinelli said, “We’re not in the top 10, I’ll keep it as motivation. We have to grow as a team, both on offense and defense, and help each other out on the rebounds.”
  • Kostas Antetokounmpo has been cut from the Greek squad, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times. The move leaves the team with just two Antetokounmpo brothers, Giannis and Thanasis. It has been an eventful summer for Kostas, who was waived by the Mavericks last month and claimed by the Lakers.

Pacific Notes: Booker, Lakers, Kuzma

Devin Booker is in the first year of five-year, $158 million extension, which would signal that he’s the Suns‘ franchise player. Yet, could Phoenix end up trading the shooting guard? Former Hawks GM Wes Wilcox recently speculated that Booker could be one of the big names on the move in the future (as Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic relays).

Wilcox was speculating on which players would be moved soon (the former GM named Chris Paul and Andre Iguodala), later in the season (Kevin Love and Bradley Beal), and in the future (Booker and Andrew Wiggins).

Booker was selected by the Suns in the 2015 draft and Phoenix hasn’t made the playoff since he arrived in town, something the franchise desperately wants to change. Still, it’s likely the Suns will ride it out with the Kentucky product for the foreseeable future, though I’d speculate that the team could fetch a sizable return for Booker should they ever make him available on the trade market.

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • ESPN’s Tim Bontemps examined the Lakers‘ schedule and believes the team will have a strong start to the season (via The Jump). The scribe explains how Los Angeles’ schedule is back-loaded with marquee games that are expected to be challenging.
  • Kyle Kuzma expects to compete for a starting spot on the Lakers but ultimately, he’s happy to contribute in whatever role the team needs, as Shams Charania of The Athletic writes. “Bench, whatever, I’m still going to get my game off regardless,” Kuzma said. “…My mindset develops every single day being around guys, having a relationship with LeBron. That gives me more confidence, the wisdom that he gives. Being around Magic Johnson and Kobe. Everybody. It grows and grows, matures and creates that mindset that defines you.”
  • While Kuzma is willing to come off the bench, he pictures himself as the third star on the team. “My motivation is there to be that third guy,” Kuzma said (via Charania in the same piece). “For the simple fact that playing with LeBron, with AD, I got high dreams for myself to do some pretty special things in my career. So that’s motivation in itself. It’s a testament to my work ethic and laying down the groundwork for my past two years being in the league.”

Kyle Kuzma Believes He Can Be Lakers’ Third Star

Although the idea of securing a trio of star players was popular among NBA teams for much of the last decade, 2019 was the offseason of dynamic duos. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George teamed up for the Clippers; Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving became Nets; and James Harden and Russell Westbrook joined forces for the Rockets.

The Lakers, of course, lined up their own star duo by pairing LeBron James and Anthony Davis. However, Kyle Kuzma believes he’s capable of evolving into the sort of star that could give the Lakers a “Big Three,” as he tells Ohm Youngmisuk of

“I don’t feel no pressure, but I believe that I am capable of being that superstar,” Kuzma said. “I put a lot of work in. My progress through my journey shows that I can be there. I developed every single year, dating back to college, and I don’t see that development stunting at all.

“Last year I didn’t shoot the ball well, and I still averaged almost 20 [points per game],” Kuzma added. “If I can shoot the ball well and keep developing the facets of my game defensively, I don’t see why I can’t [be that third star].”

Kuzma, 24, averaged 16.1 PPG with a .450 FG% and .366 3PT% as a rookie in 2017/18. While he increased his scoring rate to 18.7 PPG last season, he’s right that he struggled from beyond the arc — his 3PT% dipped to just .303.

Currently, Kuzma is competing for a spot on Team USA’s World Cup roster. If he makes the 12-man roster, he’d be in position to benefit from the play-makers on the roster and get plenty of open three-point looks. Even if he doesn’t make Team USA’s final roster – or doesn’t play much in China – he’s looking forward to a similar experience in Los Angeles this season.

“I’ve never been a ball-dominant guy,” Kuzma told Youngmisuk. “I’ve always played off the ball. It is going to be a little bit easier, going to have a lot of open shots. It is my job to trust my summer workouts and what I’ve done. Just breathe, focus and knock those shots down, because I’m going to be open.”

The 2019/20 season will be a crucial one for Kuzma, who will become eligible to sign a rookie scale extension during the summer of 2020. If he doesn’t ink a new deal a year from now, he’ll be on track for restricted free agency in 2021.

Western Notes: Kuzma, Carmelo, Daniels, Rockets, Rosas

With Carmelo Anthony still unsigned nearly six weeks after the start of free agency, Anthony has received strong support from a rather surprising source this week: Kyle Kuzma.

Kuzma, who is entering his third season with the Lakers, a team that’s been linked to Anthony for several months, firmly believes that Anthony belongs on an NBA roster and is better than many players who currently hold roster spots.

“Melo is easily better than half the league right now,” Kuzma said, according to Arash Markazi of the Los Angeles Times. “There’s no question about it. He should be on a team right now. He’s still one of the best players. The slander people throw at him is something I don’t really understand. Maybe that’s just the way today’s society is right now.

“It would be great to see him in L.A., but I don’t make those decisions. That’s up to [Lakers GM] Rob [Pelinka] to make those decisions as far as what he thinks is best for the Lakers. He’s done a great job so far putting this team together.”

The Lakers expressed exploratory interest in Anthony last season, but ultimately decided against signing the 35-year-old to a contract. Anthony last played in an NBA game during November of 2018.

“I love the game too much to be away from it,” he said on ESPN’s First Take last week. “I just love the game. I train the young guys, I’m training myself, I’m in it. I got a new life to me.”

There’s more out of the Western Conference tonight:

  • New Lakers guard Troy Daniels discussed his decision to sign with the team in an interview with Alex Kennedy of Hoops Hype. “I think we have the correct balance of veterans and young guys,” Daniels said of his team. “We have the guys who have been in the league a while and won championships, but we also have the young guys who are still developing like Kyle Kuzma, who is coming along really well and has tremendous upside. We have go-to stars in Anthony Davis and LeBron James. I think we have the right combination of guys on this team and I think we can go really far. Our goal is to win a championship, but first and foremost, we must make the playoffs. And once we make the playoffs, we’ll go from there. But this team could go really far and I’m really looking forward to working with all of these guys.”
  • The Rockets renounced their draft rights to Marko Todorovic, making the 27-year-old center an unrestricted free agent, according to RealGM’s transactions page. Todorovic was the 45th overall pick in the 2013 draft.
  • Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski recently praised Wolves president Gersson Rosas, who accepted his new job with the organization back in May. “He’s a completely trustworthy guy,” Krzyzewski said of Rosas, according to Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune. “When you’re building a winning culture, one of the main things you need is trust,” Krzyzewski said recently. “You have to believe a person. You can believe him in an instant. If he says it, it is going to happen.” Rosas was the international player personnel scout on Team USA in 2016, with Krzyzewski serving as head coach at the time.

Kevin Love Expected To Withdraw From World Cup; Kyle Lowry To Remain

Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love is expected to be the next NBA star to pull his name out of consideration for the FIBA World Cup, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry remains committed to play despite recent thumb surgery, Charania adds. Lowry is still recovering from the procedure to repair a tendon injury, but he is expected to be ready for action midway through training camp.

Love battled his own injuries last season, being limited to 22 games because of toe surgery. He remained at his normal level when he played, averaging 17.0 points and 10.9 rebounds for the season.

Love would be the eighth Team USA player to decide against participating in the World Cup since the original list of invitees was announced. Damian Lillard and DeMar DeRozan both announced yesterday that they won’t be part of the team, joining Anthony Davis, James HardenBradley BealCJ McCollum and Eric Gordon

Charania notes that their absence will provide greater opportunity for young players such as Donovan Mitchell, De’Aaron Fox, Jayson Tatum, Kyle Kuzma and Myles Turner, along with lower-profile veterans like Lowry, P.J. Tucker and Thaddeus Young (Twitter link).

A source tells Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News that there’s “no question” Kuzma will participate in the camp (Twitter link).

Lakers Notes: Davis, Kuzma, LeBron, Free Agents

The Lakers would have benefited by waiting longer, but it appears their deal with the Pelicans for Anthony Davis will be completed when the moratorium ends July 6, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. He adds that there’s still a chance it won’t be finalized until July 30, which would enable L.A. to operate over the cap and count its No. 4 pick, which is headed to New Orleans, as salary. As Wojnarowski explains in a full story, the Lakers would have $32.5MM in cap room to chase free agents under that scenario, but only $27.8MM if the trade becomes official earlier.

That figure would be reduced even further if Davis insists on a $4MM trade kicker, which he has the option to waive. Accepting it would leave L.A. with just $23.8MM, not nearly enough to compete for an elite free agent. Wojnarowski notes that delaying the deal wouldn’t benefit the Pelicans, who would have $19MM in cap space if the trade becomes official July 6, but only $15MM if they have to wait until July 30.

There’s more Lakers news to pass along:

  • The Pelicans wanted Kyle Kuzma to be included in the deal, but the Lakers opted to part with future first-round picks so they could keep him, according to Tania Ganguli and Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Kuzma, who posted an 18.7/5.5/2.5 line in his second NBA season, was among the players rumored to be on the table when the teams negotiated in February.
  • Lakers GM Rob Pelinka had to make four phone calls yesterday before Pelicans executive David Griffin responded, Turner tweets. Pelinka’s willingness to include three first-round picks turned out to be too enticing for New Orleans to pass up.
  • The Lakers’ last attempt to combine two stars failed because of a personality conflict between Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard, but Ben Golliver of The Washington Post doesn’t believe that will happen this time. Davis already has a good relationship with LeBron James, appearing on his HBO show “The Shop,” and James has an added incentive to make the partnership work because they share the same agent in Rich Paul.
  • The Lakers will be seeking low-cost veterans to round out their roster, which might be good news for Reggie Bullock, observes Kevin Pelton of ESPN. Bullock, who was acquired from the Pistons at the trade deadline, has a cap hold of just $4.8MM. L.A. holds his full Bird rights and can exceed the cap to re-sign him.
  • If the Lakers don’t land a third star in free agency, they will likely pursue another shooter such as J.J. Redick, Seth Curry or Bojan Bogdanovic, suggests Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report.

Pelicans Agree To Trade Anthony Davis To Lakers

The Pelicans have reached an agreement to trade All-Star big man Anthony Davis to the Lakers for guards Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart, forward Brandon Ingram and three first-round picks, including the No. 4 overall pick in this year’s draft, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

The rest of the Pelicans’ haul includes a 9-30 protected first-rounder in 2021, which becomes unprotected in 2022, and an unprotected first-rounder in 2024.

New Orleans will also have the right to swap unprotected first-rounders in 2o23 and will have the option to defer the 2024 pick until 2025, according to reports from Tim Bontemps of ESPN and Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter links).

[UPDATE: Davis trade will become a three-team deal]

The Lakers immediately become championship contenders with Davis joining forces with LeBron James. Davis’ agent Rich Paul, also James’ agent, had tried to steer trade talks toward the Lakers over the winter after Davis’ desire to be traded was made public. But Davis didn’t get his wish at the time.

Paul and Davis recently met with the Pelicans’ new top executive, David Griffin, who tried to convince Davis to rescind his trade request. Davis declined and expressed his desire to play long-term for either the Lakers or Knicks.

GM Rob Pelinka, who has been under fire after criticism from former Lakers president Magic Johnson, pulled off a major coup by winning the Davis sweepstakes over the Knicks and Celtics, among others. Los Angeles gave up plenty in the deal but didn’t have to include another talented big man, Kyle Kuzma.

Davis could sign an extension with the Lakers but still intends to test free agency next summer, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets.

The Lakers will have either $27.8MM or $32.5MM in cap room after the deal to pursue a high-level free agent, depending upon timing and Davis’ willingness to waive his $4MM trade bonus, ESPN salary cap expert Bobby Marks tweets.

The trade cannot be officially finalized until after the new league year begins in July. It may be even be completed as late as July 30 — newly-drafted players can be traded immediately without signing a rookie scale contract, but if they sign that contract, they aren’t eligible to be dealt for 30 days. Waiting those 30 days would be advantageous to the Lakers for cap-related reasons, as Marks notes (via Twitter).

The Lakers still don’t have quite enough cap room to max out a free agent like Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving or Kemba Walker but they’re close to it, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets. Naturally, one of those free agents might take a little less to form a superstar trio in Los Angeles or the Lakers could make other moves to clear more cap room. Walker will be the Lakers’ top free agent target, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets.

Boston refused to part with its top young player, forward Jayson Tatum, in trade talks with the Pelicans, Stein add in another tweet. That put the Lakers in the driver’s seat for Davis’ services.

With Ball and Hart joining Jrue Holiday, the Pelicans have greatly enhanced their backcourt. They now have the No. 1 and No. 4 picks in Thursday’s draft. It’s a slam dunk they’ll select Duke forward Zion Williamson with the top pick and theyll get another high-level prospect, unless they have another trade in the works. Williamson and Ingram should be a formidable duo at the forward spots and the Pelicans can now concentrate on bringing in another big man to make all the other pieces work.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.