Kyle Kuzma Will Opt Out Of Current Deal, Enter Unrestricted Free Agency This Summer

Our old friend Kyle Kuzma is back in the news as he plays his second game this season against the team that drafted him.

He may have not-so-subtly indicated that he is willing to leave the Washington Wizards. Kuzma informed Ava Wallace of The Washington Post earlier this week that he will enter unrestricted free agency this summer after opting out of the final year of his current contract, which was supposed to pay him $13 million for the 2022-23 NBA season.

The Wizards could sign the 27-year-old power forward to a veteran contract extension this season giving him a maximum of a four-year deal worth approximately $70 million. This is in addition to simply opting into his deal.

Kuzma may be eligible for a higher salary in free agency than that, in part due to his outstanding individual performance for Washington this season. Kuzma told Wallace that those are just business decisions.

Kuzma told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin

 “The maximum I can make if I sign right now is $15 million,” in a subsequent conversation. That is not the market price, if you look at the market.

The Wizards are out of the East playoff picture and have lost 11 of their last 12 games. Even though Kuzma appears to be against making a public request for a trade to move him out of town, he does appear to have hinted that he might be interested in seeing the Lakers come back together.

Kuzma made a comment to McMenamin that I definitely could [demand to be dealt]. But that is incredibly immature. I’m not particularly immature. I prefer to conduct business professionally. I wouldn’t do that, therefore.

According to Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus, Los Angeles is at the very least contemplating a reunion. The Lakers might try to swap Kuzma for a protected first-round draft pick and the veteran point guard Patrick Beverley’s $13 million contract, which is exactly the same as Kuzma’s salary.

Kuzma certainly appeared grateful to be taken into consideration when he discussed the Lakers’ rumored interest in bringing him back into the fold with Mellisa Rohlin of Fox Sports. I think it simply shows you the grass isn’t generally greener,” Kuzma told Rohlin. 

I’m adored by the Wizards

 Kuzma later informed McMenamin that carrying it out will be extremely challenging. Are the Lakers in a position to make a deal?

On a career-high 17.7 attempts from the floor, Kuzma is currently scoring a career-high 21.3 points per night at a career-best conversion rate of 46.1%. In addition, he has contributed 3.5 assists and 7.4 rebounds in 29 games for the Wizards.

However, the fact that he has indicated to his current team that he is very, very open to joining a new one in the summer raises the question of whether or not this could be a backdoor strategy for possibly, kind of, hoping to be switched to a situation that is better than the 11-19 Wizards.

Will Washington eventually warm up to the idea of trading Kuzma away for value now rather than letting him walk as a free agent if Washington continues to fall in the East standings?

Kuzma still obviously has love for L.A.

It means the world to me and my vocation,” Kuzma said of his association with the Lakers, with whom he came out on top for a championship as an imperative job player in 2020. They are the team that allowed me to be who I am and support my family. They gave this stage that I have. It has global significance.

It would be very Lakers to bring Kuzma back after letting him go a little too early. Three players on the current roster—Thomas Bryant, Damian Jones, and Dennis Schröder—are currently serving their second non-consecutive season with the team.

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