If the Lakers are going to make a major trade before next Thursday's deadline, it will almost certainly involve Kyle Kuzma. The Stepien Rule currently prevents them from trading any first-round pick, and Kuzma is the only player on the active roster below the age of 25. If the Lakers are going to pluck a valuable veteran off of a rebuilding team, Kuzma is the only thing such sellers might realistically want.
And that's where things get tricky, because the Lakers seem to have a drastically different view of Kuzma's value than anyone else. Consider the offer reported by The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor. The Sacramento Kings apparently offered Nemanja Bjelica and a draft pick to the Lakers for Kuzma. The Lakers said no, and countered by asking for Bogdan Bogdanovic, whom the Kings have seemingly kept off of the table in trade negotiations so far.
The gap between those two offers is substantial. Bjelica is a valuable on offense, but a pourous defender who really doesn't bring much else to the table. He is also 31 years old. Bogdanovic is a 27-year-old shooter of similar quality, but he is also a high-level ball-handler who has played a fair bit of point guard in the NBA. He defends his position fairly well, and has largely been limited in a bench role with Sacramento. In the right situation, he could grow into one of the best guards in the NBA.
What will make a Kuzma trade so hard to execute is that both offers could conceivably be viewed as fair compensation for him from a certain point of view. Kuzma scored 18.7 points per game in his second season, which the Lakers could easily argue points to future stardom in another situation. With Anthony Davis and LeBron James occupying their two forward spots, Kuzma arguably just doesn't fit in Los Angeles.
Opposing teams will point to Kuzma's below-average 3-point shooting numbers and suspect off-ball defense as reasons not to overpay for him. After all, most teams aspire to the sort of success the Lakers are currently enjoying, and the evidence this season suggests that Kuzma simply doesn't fit on such a good team. He is a good scorer, but not good enough to lead a championship-caliber team, so functionally, he would be expected to be a role player on a team with such aspirations. If he's struggling to produce as a role player in Los Angeles, why would that change elsewhere?
There isn't an objectively right answer. Kuzma's true value likely lies somewhere between Bjelica and Bogdanovic, but the Lakers have so far held firm on the latter as a reasonable approximation of his value. If they are going to trade Kuzma,. There are 30 teams in the NBA, all with wildly different scouting philosophies, so perhaps one of them does.
But Sacramento appeared to be one of the few obvious fits around the league thanks to the presence of Luke Walton, who coached Kuzma in Los Angeles. If they aren't willing to give up an asset as substantial as Bogdanovic, it appears unlikely that another team that knows less about him will either.
The Kings could theoretically relent. Bogdanovic is, after all, a restricted free agent this summer, and with Buddy Hield already on $106 million contract at his position, the Kings would be justified in seeking out cheaper talent at another position while they have the chance. That just doesn't appear likely. A lot can change between now and the deadline, but if these offers are any indication, the Lakers just value Kuzma more than the teams making offers for him.