The Los Angeles Lakers announced they exercised team options on the contracts of Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma for the 2019-20 NBA season. That year will be the third for Ball, Hart and Kuzma; and a fourth with the team for Ingram.
The group makes up the touted Lakers’ young core that was instrumental in marking the start of a turnaround for the franchise. They are also a big reason why LeBron James elected to sign with the Lakers and not push for them to acquire a second All-Star.
In addition to keeping the young players under contract, the Lakers have preserved roster flexibility moving forward as each remains on a team-friendly deal.
After improvement in his second year, Ingram is expected to take another leap forward in what’s his third season. The preseason saw him play with an aggressive mindset and quickly develop chemistry with James.
That fits what Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson hoped for when he said his thought was Ingram would benefit most from playing alongside James.
Ball is coming off a rookie campaign in which injuries limited him to 50 games. He underwent offseason knee surgery to correct a nagging issue, and is expected to have a strong year with better health and added muscle to his frame.
Much is also expected of Kuzma, who had flashes of brilliance as a rookie. Kuzma has been asked to further expand his game by playing backup center, which has placed an emphasis on improved defense.
Hart played his way to a Las Vegas Summer League MVP Award and has continued to draw praise from Lakers head coach Luke Walton. Although it appears Hart may lose the competition with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to start, his importance and contributions to the team are not diminished.
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