Lakers News: Latest on LeBron James' Future, Kyle Kuzma's Expectations, More

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJuly 13, 2021

Lakers News: Latest on LeBron James' Future, Kyle Kuzma's Expectations, More

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    Matt York/Associated Press

    The Los Angeles Lakers are professional—and perpetual—newsmakers.

    That's true even when the franchise is something less than an NBA juggernaut, but it's especially the case right now when they roster two of the league's elites in LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

    Speaking of James, the 36-year-old offered interesting insight into where he plans to spend the rest of his career—and for how much longer.

    Let's break down that news nugget and others bouncing around Laker Land.

LeBron Hopes to Retire as a Laker

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    LeBron James is kinda, sorta starting to show his age.

    The quality of his play doesn't really reflect it—he was thought to be leading the MVP race at a time this season—but the quantity might. Two seasons back, he failed to play 60 games for the first time in his career; this year, he made a career-low 45 appearances.

    But if these increasingly regular bouts with the injury bug have him contemplating retirement, he's thinking more about the setting of it than the seasons remaining before that happens. The way he sees it, he might have another half-decade-plus in front of him—which he'd prefer to spend with the Purple and Gold.

    "I truly hope that I can finish my career with the Lakers," James said on the SmartLess podcast (via Jasmyn Wimbish of CBSSports.com). "However many years that is, if it's four, five, six, whatever, seven. I hope I can continue to play the game. I love being in L.A., my family loves being in L.A. Being with a historical franchise like the Lakers is something."

    Across three seasons with the Lakers, James has already added to his incredible legacy. In addition to delivering the franchise's record-tying 17th championship, he has earned the most All-NBA selections in history (16 total, including three with the Lakers) and become the third player ever to score 35,000 points.

Kyle Kuzma 'Definitely' Believes He Can Become an All-Star

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    Kyle Kuzma made a loud arrival in L.A., debuting as an All-Rookie first-teamer in 2017-18 and averaging the team's second-most points per game in his sophomore season (James' first with the Lakers).

    But his numbers have decreased, and his role has changed a few times over the two seasons since. With Davis serving as James' All-Star sidekick, Kuzma has shifted between starting and reserve roles while dropping lower on the offensive pecking order.

    Still, the 25-year-old swingman believes he could become a 25-point scoring All-Star.

    "I definitely can," Kuzma told B/R's Tyler Conway. "I definitely believe that, too. I don't really care what nobody thinks or says. I know myself, and I know my ability. It's hard to be consistent in an inconsistent role. I'm excited for a more consistent space next year."

    While Kuzma's past production suggests he's capable of providing more than he has the past two seasons, it's worth wondering if the Lakers can offer the consistent role he seeks. L.A.'s lack of cap space could lead the club toward re-signing many of its own free agents, which could mean next season's roster looks similar to this one.

    And if the Lakers make a major change, they might need Kuzma's $13 million salary and upside to help swing a trade for an established star.

Trey Murphy III, Nah'Shon Hyland Among Recent Draft Workouts

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    Ethan Hyman/Associated Press

    While history doesn't love the Lakers' chances of finding a star with the 22nd overall pick in the upcoming draft, the club could certainly add a rotation-caliber player with the pick.

    L.A. recently welcomed a six-prospect group for a workout, which included potential first-rounders Trey Murphy III of Virginia and Nah'Shon Hyland of VCU, per Kyle Goon of the Southern California News Group.

    Murphy is a sweet-shooting 6'9" swingman with the defensive versatility to fill the coveted three-and-D role. Hyland is a 6'3" scoring guard with handles to create separation and deep range on his jump shot.

    Both could be in play when the Lakers are on the clock. For reference, the latest mock draft from B/R's Jonathan Wasserman has Murphy going 17th overall to the Memphis Grizzlies, Hyland landing with the Brooklyn Nets at No. 27 and the Lakers spending the 22nd pick on LSU freshman scoring guard Cameron Thomas.

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