Wizards’ Bold Plans For Kyle Kuzma, Kristaps Porzingis

Wizards’ Bold Plans For Kyle Kuzma, Kristaps Porzingis

Updated: 2 months, 3 days, 22 hours, 1 minute, 47 seconds ago
Kyle Kuzma, Kristaps Porzingis, Washington Wizards, NBA Trade Rumors

The Washington Wizards took part in the first deal of NBA trade season earlier this week with the Los Angeles Lakers. They traded Rui Hachimura out west in exchange for Kendrick Nunn and three second-round picks; two from the Lakers in 2023 and 2029 and one from the Chicago Bulls in 2023.

Speculation began last week that the Wizards were exploring a deal centered around Hachimura as they sought to alleviate the logjam that was being created in their frontcourt. Finding a deal involving him also showed their hand for the future.

According to Marc Stein on his Substack, the next step for Washington is retaining Kyle Kuzma and Kristaps Porzingis. Both players have options for the 2023-24 season that are expected to be declined so that they can sign long-term deals as free agents this upcoming summer.

League sources say that the Wizards’ willingness to trade Hachimura in the name of down-the-road financial flexibility is indeed a reflection of their increasing confidence when it comes to re-signing Kyle Kuzma this summer. Kuzma intends to decline his $13 million player option for next season to become a free agent on June 30. Washington continues to tell rival teams that it plans to re-sign Kuzma as well as Kristaps Porziņģis, who can also become a free agent this summer if he declines his $36 million player option for next season. One source close to the situation said declining the option and becoming a free agent is indeed a prime option Porziņģis is considering, but I’m told he likes his situation in the nation’s capital.

Coming into the season, it felt like a foregone conclusion that Kuzma would be declining that option if he was able to replicate his performance from last season, his first with the team. He has thus far gone above and beyond that production.

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This season Kuzma is averaging a career-high 22 points and 4.0 assists per game to go along with 7.6 rebounds. He is an integral part of their game plan and while there were some rumors that he wanted out of Washington, trading Hachimura and making Kuzma their unquestioned building block at power forward would indicate a deal can be reached.

Regarding Porzingis, it was never a question of talent. He is an excellent basketball player as a mismatch nightmare on offense given his size and skill set. Defensively, he can be a difference-maker as a rim protector. The biggest question with Porzingis was availability, and this season he has been able to stay on the court before recently suffering an ankle sprain.

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He had missed only five games before that, approaching the All-Star form he had with the New York Knicks before he tore his ACL. In 41 games this season, Porzingis is averaging 22.1 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 0.9 steals, and 1.5 blocks.

Some rumors were floating around earlier in the season that Porzingis could land a multi-year deal that pays $30 million annually. Given how well he has played, that would seem like a reasonable number for him to attain.