Lakers Trade Rumors: Kyle Kuzma Removed from Marcus Morris Talks with Knicks

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistFebruary 6, 2020

Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma in action during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Portland Trail Blazers in Los Angeles, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)
Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press

If the New York Knicks orchestrate a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers that involves Marcus Morris, it reportedly won't include Kyle Kuzma.

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported Kuzma was "removed from discussions" by the Lakers ahead of Thursday's 3 p.m. ET trade deadline. However, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN reported that for the Knicks, "there's no deal without Kuzma." 

Frank Isola of ESPN first reported the Knicks' desire to target Kuzma in a potential Morris deal.

Moving Morris, 30, for someone like the 24-year-old Kuzma makes sense for a Knicks team that is in full-on rebuilding mode at 15-36—the fourth-worst record in the league. Morris is only under contract through this season, while Kuzma is not set to hit restricted free agency until 2021.

Adding a young playmaker who is accustomed to playing under the bright lights of a major market in exchange for someone like Morris, who could easily sign elsewhere this coming offseason, would help accelerate New York's rebuilding efforts.

Kuzma is averaging 13.1 points and 4.4 rebounds in 25.0 minutes per game this season. He is not as featured in the offense as he was in 2018-19 following Los Angeles' addition of Anthony Davis and Danny Green—plus a healthy LeBron James—but he averaged 18.7 points per game last season.

The 6'8", 221-pound forward could be another long-term building block in the Big Apple alongside RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson.

The Lakers, who have the best record in the Western Conference (38-11), are in win-now mode with James having turned 35 in December. Morris is a playoff-tested veteran who is averaging a career-best 19.6 points per game this season while shooting 43.9 percent from three-point range.

He could slide right into the Purple and Gold's rotation and take advantage of the spacing created by James and Davis with his perimeter shooting.

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