The Los Angeles Lakers announced that they signed forward Kyle Kuzma to a multiyear contract extension on Sunday.
The deal was finalized by Kuzma on Sunday and is worth a reported $40-million over three years, with a player option for the 2023-2024 season, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The deal is unique in that it will allow Kuzma, 25, to re-enter the open market in his prime at 28, at which point he could command a much bigger payday on his next contract if he outperforms his current extension, which comes into effect during the 2021-2022 season. The Lakers cut it quite close, getting the deal done just a day before the NBA’s Monday deadline for signing rookie extensions for the 2017 draft class.
Kuzma has had a bit of a roller-coaster career so far. He began by starting in just under half of his appearances for a rebuilding Lakers team in his rookie year, then he started in all but two of his appearances for an underachieving Lebron James-led Lakers team in his sophomore year, before being relegated almost exclusively to a bench role during last season’s championship run.
The 25-year-old will undoubtedly be attempting to finally crack that starting lineup for good this season, and this new contract should definitely give the Flint native even more confidence in himself going forward. He will get his first chance to prove himself a starter-caliber player when his Lakers, sitting as -143 odds favorites on 888sport, take on the crosstown-rival Clippers on Tuesday.
Apart from All-Rookie First Team honors in his first year, Kuzma hasn’t had much reason to be recognized by the league. He does have solid numbers, however, having averaged 16.0 points and 5.5 rebounds per game on 45 percent shooting from the field through three seasons. And his teammates believe he will continue to make big strides.
“He’s been playing great for us in the bubble and all of last year. He’s locked in. He made a great jump on both ends of the floor,” teammate Anthony Davis said after learning of his teammate’s new deal. “We’re excited to have him here. I know he’s excited to be here. And he’s a champion. You deserve it. I’m glad that the Lakers were able to work something out with him to be able to allow him to just go out there and play and not worry about contracts for the rest of the season.”
The Utah product put up 17.5 points and 2.5 threes per game on 42 percent shooting from beyond the arc in four preseason appearances over the past couple of weeks. Though he still has a ways to go on the defensive end and his playmaking leaves much to be desired, some polishing and consistency on his scoring game could give him the opportunity to become a much more significant piece of the Lakers’ drive for a repeat title than he was for the original championship run.