Is Kyle Kuzma Forcing His Way Back To LA?
Kyle Kuzma has been all over trade rumors, notably linked with the Lakers. The most recent report has Kuzma planning on entering unrestricted free agency this offseason, thus leaving the possibility of leaving the Wizards in the near future.
"In an interview this week, following statements he made in The Athletic, Kuzma said he does not expect to sign an extension with the Wizards and plans to decline his player option for the 2023-24 season to become an unrestricted free agent this summer."https://t.co/F1Tyjuv8xy— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) December 16, 2022
This is a fascinating development and only makes the rumors of Kuz coming back look more like a reality.
It comes just a day after Kuzma tweeted, “Nothing like getting off the plane and that California breeze hit you.”
Kuz sending the Lakers a message? 👀 pic.twitter.com/7MDv6YI0ou— Lakers All Day Everyday (@LADEig) December 15, 2022
While Kuzma is in Los Angeles with the Wizards to take on the Clippers and Lakers on Saturday and Sunday, this tweet raises questions, given the recent rumors.
He didn’t have to make this tweet, and it could be his hint of wanting to rejoin the LakeShow.
Kuzma is having a career year, averaging 21/8/4 while shooting 46.2% and 34.3% from three. LA has reached out to Washington already about Kuzma and, with the latest reports, should continue their interest.
A reunion with Kuzma makes sense for the Lakers, as they lack depth at forward. Since his trade to DC, he has improved in all facets of his game.
He has chemistry with LeBron and AD and could slot in as another scorer. While his offensive game is what people look at, he could be a key wing defender for Darvin Ham’s rotation.
With the current roster construction, Ham has had to rely on guards like Dennis Schroder and Patrick Beverley to guard wings.
Kyle Kuzma reportedly “wants out" of Washington and "he's looking for over $20M/season in a big market or with a contender."— Lakers All Day Everyday (@LADEig) December 12, 2022
The Lakers are a team to ‘monitor’ 👀
(Via @EricPincus) pic.twitter.com/zAbtdzdF5e
As Kuzma looks to enter free agency, the Wizards may be more inclined to move him rather than potentially losing him for nothing in the offseason.
The Lakers have Beverley’s salary to match Kuzma’s contract, along with one or two of their first-round picks. This is what LA has to offer, but it depends on what Rob Pelinka and the front office is willing to do.
Thus far, Pelinka has been reluctant to let go of the last tradeable first-round picks that Los Angeles has.
When asked about the Lakers' interest in him, Kuzma said, "It’s definitely a good thing because at the end of the day, that means I’ve been playing well, and I have value in this league, that a team would want to trade for me. It’s a blessing."
The Lakers need help more than ever with Davis out, and bringing in Kuzma would fill a hole for them and give them a stronger roster to make a playoff run. It seems Kuzma would welcome a return to the Purple & Gold.