The Los Angeles Lakers traded Kyle Kuzma to the Washington Wizards this past offseason in the deal that brought Russell Westbrook to LA.
Westbrook has been such a massive disaster with the purple and gold that the front office has already spoken to two different teams about trading him. But that is neither here nor there.
What’s interesting is actually what happened on the other side of that trade, with Kuzma.
Away from the bright lights of Los Angeles and the non-stop pressure of living up to championship aspirations, Kuzma is thriving.
On Monday night he put together his best game of the season thus far when he scored 36 points on 50 percent shooting from the field, along with recording 11 rebounds, 6 assists and 1 steal. It was a beautiful, well-rounded effort.
In light of how well Kuzma has played for the Wizards this year, his teammate Bradley Beal couldn’t help but take a little shot at the team that let him go.
“He now has it where he can flap his wings,” Beal said, per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports. “He can breathe and relax and go play. He doesn’t have to worry about all that outside stuff, the distractions per se. He can go hoop.”
The subtext there is clear: the Lakers were a circus last year. It got to the point where Kuzma was begging to be dealt, and on his way out he couldn’t help but take a 4-word shot at the organization that drafted him.
Kuzma is in a great place right now. He is on a strong young team, has teammates that actually like him and has his whole career in front of him.
The photos speak for themselves. https://t.co/k0zuHbsZML
— Game 7 (@game7__) January 4, 2022
It will be interesting to see what sort of player he ultimately develops into now that he doesn’t have the expectations of being a Laker weighing him down.
A longtime sports reporter, Carlos Garcia has written about some of the biggest and most notable athletic events of the last 5 years. He has been credentialed to cover MLS, NBA and MLB games all over the United States. His work has been published on Fox Sports, Bleacher Report, AOL and the Washington Post.