Los Angeles Lakers: Markieff Morris increasing odds of Kyle Kuzma trade

(Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images) /

Markieff Morris may make the Los Angeles Lakers’ decision with Kyle Kuzma’s future much easier.

At the time of writing this, the Los Angeles Lakers are up one game to zero in the Western Conference Finals against a Denver Nuggets team that simply looks to be outmatched against the first seed in the West.

LeBron James and Anthony Davis have proven to be as lethal as we all touted all season long and are the two-best players remaining in the playoffs — something that bodes really well for the Lakers.

The role players have stepped up as well. Rajon Rondo returned from injury and returned in true Playoff Rondo form. Alex Caruso has been great defensively, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has done great shooting the basketball and even Dwight Howard added really value minutes in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals after not playing at all the round prior.

One of the role players that has stepped up the most is Markieff Morris. Morris was tasked to be the team’s starting small-ball center in Game 4 and 5 against Houston and has added valuable bench minutes throughout the rest of the playoffs.

Morris is averaging 6.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 18.7 minutes per game in the playoffs. That might not seem all that special, but he has played pretty solid defense and is shooting a staggering 44.1 percent from beyond the arc.

Morris is a free agent after the season but has made himself a priority to re-sign. Win or lose this year, not keeping Morris around after the kind of showing he has had in the playoffs is silly.

Keeping Morris next season also makes it easier for the Lakers to explore trades for Kyle Kuzma in the offseason. Kuzma has been in the rumor mill for quite some time now and if the front office can flip his youth for more value then you bet Rob Pelinka will do so in a heartbeat.

How Markieff Morris makes trading Kyle Kuzma easier for the Los Angeles Lakers:

Kyle Kuzma and Markieff Morris are both power forwards. Morris has gotten more time at the five in the playoffs simply by necessity, but both men are fours at the end of the day. They take each other’s minutes — they directly clash.

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Kuzma has shown really great flashes of efficient playmaking off the bench for the Lakers in the playoffs. However, at the end of the day, he is not someone who consistently thrives in this system. He is not a fantastic three-point shooter and while he has gotten better, he still is not a great defender.

Morris is a much better defender than Kuzma and has proven to be the more consistent shooter as well. Even outside of this hot streak in the playoffs, Morris is a good shooter. He shot over 38 percent from beyond the arc this season.

The Lakers already have a bit of a logjam at the four and Morris is more than capable of eating those minutes. He can play a stretch four, can line up as a small five and could even be the three with both LeBron and AD on the court if needed.

He is more versatile and his skill set better fits the Lakers. We have seen it in full display in the playoffs.

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This does not mean that trading Kyle Kuzma is now a for sure thing. However, the odds of it are probably higher than they were before the playoffs began.