Kyle Kuzma is now a member of the Washington Wizards, although it looked for a bit that the former Los Angeles Lakers forward was destined to land in Sacramento.
A deal seemed all but done that would send Kuzma to the Kings in a trade that brought back Buddy Hield to the Lakers. However, things changed at the last second, with the Lakers opting instead to deal for Wizards star point guard Russell Wilson. The change of plans caught Kuzma off guard, which he recounted on No Chill With Gilbert Arenas.
“I was kind of shocked because I thought I was going to Sac,” Kuzma said. “Like the Sacramento deal with Buddy Hield, that s–t was done. So I’m thinking in my head, like, ‘OK, Sac, 45-minute flight. That’s not bad. I can go to Napa.’
“But then out of nowhere, you’re going to Washington.”
Kuzma was happy to land in what he called a “better situation” with the Wizards rather than the Kings, who have not finished above .500 since the 2005-06 season.
“I was super hyped because it’s a better situation,” Kuzma said. “Going to Sac would have been fun, I would have went crazy for sure. That’s how I think. But to have an opportunity to play with Brad Beal — it’s someone that is really trying to be a winner in this league.”
Kuzma Was Eager for Larger Role
It was clearly time for the Lakers and Kuzma to part ways after a couple of strenuous seasons. Kuzma had been relegated to a bench role after coming out of the gate strong during his Lakers career. He expressed this offseason that he wasn’t satisfied with his role, telling Bleacher Report that with a more consistent role he could see himself having All-Star potential, averaging 25 points per night.
“I definitely can. I definitely believe that, too,” Kuzma said when asked if he could become an All-Star. “I don’t really care what nobody thinks or says. I know myself, and I know my ability. It’s hard to be consistent in an inconsistent role. I’m excited for a more consistent space next year.”
Kuzma started 32 of 68 games last season due to the Lakers being banged up. He averaged 12.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, leading the Lakers in made 3-pointers. Kuzma has shown some strong potential, especially earlier in his career where he played a larger role on a young — and not very good — Lakers team.
Kuzma Learned While in LA From LeBron James
Kuzma can’t complain about his time in Los Angeles, getting to take in tips and insight from an all-time great in LeBron James. Seeing Anthony Davis put in work didn’t hurt either.
“I know that being around LeBron has reshaped my thinking in all of these important ways,” Kuzma detailed in The Players’ Tribune. “Like, just the idea of thinking about a game as being about more than the score. I think in my first couple of years here, I was kind of a slave to the scoreboard. But now, I’ve had multiple games this year, where I’ve pushed myself so far beyond that.”
Now on a new team with more opportunity, we’ll see just how much Kuzma has grown this coming year.