The Los Angeles Lakers‘ title defense did not turn out the way they had envisioned, as they suffered injuries to their dynamic duo and struggled to find the contributions they had expected to get from key additions to their roster. LeBron and AD did what they could in the limited time they were on the floor.
Hence much was expected from players like Dennis Schroeder and Kyle Kuzma. Unfortunately, the two failed to live up to the expectations of the basketball world, leaving fans frustrated and calling for change. Apparently, it wasn’t only the fans who were frustrated, as Schroeder and Kuzma reportedly feuded with each other for much of the season.
League sources say Dennis Schroder and Kyle Kuzma feuded throughout the season, with things going further south throughout the #Lakers’ first-round series loss to Phoenix. Interesting note to consider heading into the draft and free agency.— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) July 23, 2021
Reports of a feud do not come as much of a surprise, as these two players were competing for the role of “third guy” to the dynamic duo that led the Lakers to a title in the previous season. Given the Lakers’ need to improve their roster this offseason, it’s likely that Kuzma and Schroeder will not be on the Lakers next season. Given the history of the Lakers and blockbuster deals, Kuzma and Schroeder might still be teammates next season, albeit in a different city.
The name that has been featured in reports is Russell Westbrook, the fiery guard from the Washington Wizards. Russ has been linked to recent news regarding the Lakers’ planned roster changes, with the deal to acquire him involving Schroeder, Kuzma, and young guard Talen Horton-Tucker. If this deal were to go through, then Kuzma and Schroeder would be back on the same team, but this time with much less structure and definition of roles, it sounds like a disaster to me.
It was reported by multiple sources that both players seem to be in search of a bigger role, something that the Lakers currently cannot offer them. For the two young players, their request comes at a time where the league has doubts about each one’s ability to perform, which poses a problem in terms of finding a team that will give them that expanded role.
For the Lakers, if they want to swing a deal for a marquee name, they will need to send both Kuzma and Schroeder to the same team. However, Schroeder is an unrestricted free agent, meaning that the Lakers would have to work out a sign and trade with a possible suitor should they wish to move in a different direction at the point guard position. It is likely that before signing to make that possible, Dennis will require that the trade not include Kuzma, making the offer much less compelling and the return for the Lakers much less valuable.
Should this feud be true, Rob Pelinka will need to take learnings from his past life as an agent and find a way for the two young players to patch things up. This is because the only way the Lakers make a deal to put them back as the favorites this summer is if the two feuding players can stomach playing together for their new team. If that were to happen, the possibilities are endless. Anyone from Russell Westbrook, Bradley Beal and maybe even Damian Lillard would be available, giving The King another chance to make it back to the mountaintop.