Kyle Kuzma declined his $13 million player option for the 2023-24 season with the Washington Wizards to become an unrestricted free agent. This is part of the three-year, $39 million rookie contract he signed with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020. The sixth-year wing will receive offers worth at least $20 million per year in free agency.
Kuzma had until this Saturday, June 24 to make his decision. However, the 6-foot-9 forward could still sign a multi-year deal with Washington. In 64 starts of the 2022-23 season, Kuzma averaged career highs of 21.2 points, 3.7 assists, and 35 minutes per game. The 2020 NBA champ also shot 44.8% from the floor and 33.3% beyond the arc.
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ESPN Sources: As expected, Washington Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma has declined his $13 million player option and become a free agent. Kuzma will be one of the marketplace’s most prominent players. A return to Washington on a new deal remains a possibility.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 20, 2023
This past Sunday, the Wizards traded Bradley Beal to the Phoenix Suns for Chris Paul, Landry Shamet, Jordan Goodwin, Isaiah Todd, multiple second-round draft picks, and a picks swap. The Los Angeles Clippers are rumored to make a trade for Paul.
A deal prior to this Thursday’s 2023 NBA Draft would benefit Washington. Of course, the Wizards hold Nos. 8, 42, and 57 picks in this year’s draft. Washington is projected to select Arkansas guard Anthony Black eighth overall. Though, some NBA mock drafts have the team picking Metropolitans 92 star Bilal Coulibaly in the first round.
Washington Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma has declined his $13 million player option to become a free agent, could receive offers starting at $20 million per year
Last July, Beal signed a five-year, $251.02 million max extension with the Wizards. Therefore, he’s owed $207,740,400 over the next four years. The three-time All-Star would have made $46,741,590 with Washington for the 2023-24 season.
After the Beal trade, Kristaps Porzingis is now the highest-paid Wizards player. Porzingis’ cap figure for 2023-24 is $36,016,200. This amount is projected to take on 18.02% of the team’s salary cap next season, assuming the 7-foot-3 forward/center remains with the team.
Trading Beal to help save cap space is one thing, but new Wizards G.M. Michael Winger should make re-signing Kyle Kuzma his top priority. In Washington’s 112-108 win over the New York Knicks on Jan. 13, the forward scored a season-high 40 points in 41 minutes of action. He was one point shy of matching his career high.
Kyle Kuzma was always going to opt out. $13M was WAY under what he’ll get in free agency. And there was no reasonable way to extend that contract at a number that made sense for him either.
— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) June 20, 2023
“I’ve developed my game significantly here, and there’s good people here,” Kuzma told reporters back in April about his time spent with Washington. “I’d be a fool to say it’s not an option for me. I’m trying to get better every year.
“It’s not about money, I’m going to get paid regardless anywhere [I go] and here too. It’s about can I come into work every day and be the best version of myself, can I help lead guys, can I make other players better, can I light up rooms?”
If Kyle Kuzma decides to leave the Wizards, there’s a chance he could return to the Lakers. He won his only championship with L.A. against the Miami Heat in the Orlando bubble in 2020. Kuzma could also reunite with former Wizards teammate Rui Hachimura, but he’s a free agent as well.
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Source: Basketball Insider