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Kyle Kuzma, Lakers Agree to Reported 3-Year, $40M Contract Extension

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistDecember 20, 2020

Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma (0) is congratulated by teammate Josh Hart during an NBA basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

Kyle Kuzma isn't going anywhere.

The Los Angeles Lakers agreed to terms with the young forward on a contract extension Sunday, which Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported will be worth $40 million over three years:

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

Player option on a non-max rookie extension is a first in league, a creative wrinkle that allows Kuzma into unrestricted free agency in his prime at 28. Smart move and great benefit for Kuzma should he out-perform this deal headed into summer of 2023.

Kuzma, 25, was one of the NBA's most pleasant surprises during his rookie season, averaging 16.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. He shot 45 percent from the field and 36.6 percent from three, and there was a strong argument to be made that he had a more successful rookie season than his more hyped counterpart, Lonzo Ball. 

The 6'8", 221-pound forward showed growth in certain respects in his sophomore campaign, averaging 18.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, though his three-point shooting (30.3 percent) regressed. Nonetheless, he fit in more naturally next to superstar LeBron James than either Ball or Brandon Ingram, the team's other former young prospects. 

The Lakers valued him enough to keep him out of their major trade package for Anthony Davis, but Kuzma became more of a role player than the third star some fans might have envisioned him being. And with both Davis and James capable of playing the 4, Kuzma never quite fit with the pair as they led the Lakers to a title last season.  

There was the thought that moving him might be required to add a third star, though it appears any such plans are now on the back burner.

If he can rediscover his three-point shot, he's the prototypical stretch 4 in the modern NBA. While he probably doesn't have the upside to be a superstar, he can be a good player on the Lakers for years to come.

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