The Washington Wizards acquired Kyle Kuzma from the Los Angeles Lakers in a trade centering around Russell Westbrook back in 2021.
To say that the deal proved to be a bad one for L.A. would be an understatement.
Kuzma, meanwhile, has thrived in D.C. Although his addition has not resulted in the Wizards necessarily winning more, he wasn’t brought in to lead the franchise to new heights. He was brought in to be a solid, productive role player – and that is what he has been.
This is the final year of Kuzma’s deal before he becomes an unrestricted free agent. That has led to some speculation about his future with the Wizards, particularly if they don’t intend to pay him the big bucks he will no doubt demand this summer.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, two teams are currently viewed as frontrunners for Kuzma should he be placed on the market.
“Several teams, such as the Atlanta Hawks and Phoenix Suns, have expressed trade interest in Kuzma, according to league sources,” he wrote.
“By the same token, the Wizards have shown interest in Hawks forward John Collins, and the sides seriously discussed a potential deal last offseason, league sources added. Overall, this surely creates a possible decision for the Wizards during the season of holding onto the potential free-agent-to-be or exploring what’s out there.”
That said, the idea of Kuzma getting traded has gotten some pushback.
“The Wizards’ front office, led by general manager Tommy Sheppard, has made clear that it views Kuzma as a cornerstone moving forward as the franchise has seen him thrive since the mega-trade in the 2021 offseason,” Charania added.
“The Westbrook trade provided future flexibility and assets for the Wizards, who have been known to be aggressive and active in research across the league.”
Kuzma is currently averaging career highs across the board. His 20.6 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game are the best numbers he has ever put up. And as a result, his value is pretty high.
The 27-year-old is also a pretty notable star off the court. When his provocative photos getting intimate with his model girlfriend went viral, they set the internet ablaze. He has that sort of reach.
Any team that gets him will take that into account, too.
— Game 7 (@game7__) December 9, 2022
Kuzma is a fascinating talent.
Where will his career take him next season and beyond?
Time will tell.