Kyle Kuzma decision will determine Lakers’ Anthony Davis fate

A potential Lakers-Pelicans blockbuster trade for Anthony Davis likely hinges on one player: Kyle Kuzma.

The Lakers are reportedly trying to keep the promising power forward out of trade talks, but the Pelicans remain determined to acquire him, according to the LA Times.

Kuzma built upon an impressive rookie season, scoring 20.3 points a game last season, and New Orleans covets the 23-year-old more than any other Lakers star. However, that same sentiment is shared within the Lakers organization, and they are reluctant to part ways with him.

“This is my first go-around with this type of stuff,” Kuzma said in January when he first emerged in Davis talks at the deadline. “It’s always a good thing to be in trade rumors. It means you have value, and it means potentially you could be in this league a long time. People want you … You can’t control your destiny in this league, but you can control your work ethic and how great you want to be.”

Should the Lakers agree to include Kuzma, they might be able to keep their No. 4 pick. But Kuzma is a known quantity and the type of shooter the Lakers would ideally want to have around Davis and LeBron James.

The Lakers have made Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball available in talks. The Celtics have also engaged the Pelicans in trade discussions recently, but Davis’ agent Rich Paul has made it clear that the forward will not re-sign with Boston.

“They can trade for him, but it’ll be for one year,” Paul told Sports Illustrated. “I mean: If the Celtics traded for Anthony Davis, we would go there and we would abide by our contractual [obligations] and we would go into free agency in 2020. I’ve stated that to them. But in the event that he decides to walk away and you give away assets? Don’t blame Rich Paul.”

Kuzma was taken in the 27th pick in the first round of the 2017 draft, but worked his way onto the 2018 NBA All-Rookie First Team.

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