Washington Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma is already developing early buzz as a candidate to be moved at this season’s trade deadline. But where could the 27-year-old be headed to?
Kyle Kuzma is expected to be a key part of the Wizards in 2022-2023, however, that very likely could be on a limited basis. While Washington is hopeful to be a surprise playoff contender this season, they aren’t at all projected to win a division title or seriously be in the running for an NBA championship. This means that while the organization will look to be competitive, they must also still think long-term with their roster.
After acquiring Kuzma last summer, the former Lakers forward was a worthwhile addition in 2021-2022. Putting up career-best numbers in assists and rebounds, while also having one of his strongest scoring seasons as well. While he does have a favorable contract this year and next — making just over $13 million annually — Kuzma does have an opt-out clause in his deal for next season. So, he is sure to make use of that right and seek out a new long-term deal on the open market.
That fact is why an anonymous Western Conference executive told Heavy.com earlier this week they expect Kuzma to be shipped off by the Wizards at the trade deadline in February. However, this same executive also offered up several possible destinations for the 27th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.
Possible trade partners for Washington Wizards in a Kyle Kuzma trade
The executive sees the most surprising team in the league last season, the Chicago Bulls, as one team that has a reason to inquire about Kuzma. “The Bulls are, again, in the market for depth at the position so there is a possibility, though they do not want to mess with the luxury tax either. But that could be a Coby White destination.” Currently, 2020 first-round pick Patrick Williams is the team’s starting power forward. However, if he doesn’t take a development step forward this season, Kuzma would certainly be a nice upgrade for the playoffs.
After the Bulls, the Western Conference exec felt that Kuzma is the kind of player the Dallas Mavericks would love to have. “Dallas is just trying to get better players across the board. They can give up an unprotected pick for him and match up the salaries. Kyle’s still fairly young and that has appeal for a team like Dallas.”
The Mavericks swung a trade for Christian Wood in the offseason and are fully invested in his upside. However, Kuzma could be an option as a big small forward if the team isn’t happy with the performance of Reggie Bullock and Tim Hardaway, Jr. at the position this season.
Lastly, the Brooklyn Nets could also make a play for Kuzma during the season. “Brooklyn, I don’t think they’re done. They like their young guys but let’s face it, the clock on this team is running short and they need to win now. Cam Thomas or Day’Ron Sharpe, someone like that would be a draw for the Wizards,” the exec said.
- Kyle Kuzma stats (2021-2022): 17.1 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 3.5 APG, .341 3PT%
Point guard Ben Simmons is expected to play big minutes at the four, however, that experiment could fail and Kuzma would be a strong option to help make a big and athletic starting lineup alongside Simmons and superstar Kevin Durant in New York.
This article was originally published on Sportsnaut.com and is republished here with permission.