Lakers Reunion With Kyle Kuzma Looming After Opting Out of Contract

Kyle Kuzma

Getty Images Free agent forward Kyle Kuzma.

Kyle Kuzma is a free agent after opting out of the final year of his deal with the Washington Wizards and there’s a chance he could find his way back to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Kuzma officially opted out of his deal on Tuesday that would have paid him $13 million next season. After a strong showing in Washington last season — averaging a career-high 21.2 points — he’s expected to be a coveted asset for teams around the league.

NBA analyst Jake Weinbach linked Kuzma to multiple teams but made a special note about a potential reunion with the Lakers.

“Potential suitors for Kuzma could include the Pacers, Rockets, Spurs, Kings, and Jazz. A reunion with the Lakers is also a looming possibility,” Weinbach tweeted.

The Lakers sent Kuzma to Washington in a trade that brought Russell Westbrook to LA. The situation with Westbrook ended up being an unmitigated disaster but Kuzma thrived in a larger role in Washington out of the spotlight that comes with wearing purple and gold.

Kyle Kuzma Has Tumultuous Tenure With Lakers

Kuzma had some good times with the Lakers and also some dark ones. He was constantly brought up in trade rumors and his play was under a microscope playing alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

“It’s a double-edged sword, a double-edged sword, for sure,” Kuzma told Mellisa Rohlin of Fox Sports in January. “I believe that it was some of the best things to ever happen to me, you know, getting drafted, being a Laker, having that platform. Having millions and millions of people globally know who you are, that’s a blessing. That’s part of being a Laker. Learning from LeBron, winning a championship — it’s all been great.”

That’s not to say that it was all rainbows and butterflies for Kuzma with the Lakers. He was asked to sacrifice and didn’t feel like he got a fair shake, sharing that it was tough to be the “little bro” in the locker room.

“One night, you might get 10 shots. The next night, maybe they just need you to rebound. The next night, you might get 15 minutes. The next night, you might get 29 [minutes]. You never know. That’s [not getting] the fair end of the stick,” Kuzma said. “When I was in the moment and I was young, [I was] frustrated a lot of nights because, man, I really want this. I really want this. Everybody who knows me knows I’m really competitive. I really love basketball. A lot of nights it bothered me that I never got the chance to do what I’m doing now, play me.”

It all worked out for Kuzma, who has the ability to pick his next squad and should cash in thanks to his play. The Lakers would be an interesting suitor for Kuzma but they won’t be bringing the most lucrative offer to the table.

Lakers Have Priorities for Offseason

A reunion with a much-improved Kuzma might be appealing but the Lakers have their priorities for the offseason. That includes keeping their core together with new deals for Rui Hachimura and Austin Reaves.

“We’re incredibly proud of this group, getting to the Western Conference Finals,” general manager Rob Pelinka said in his exit interview. “After the trade deadline, we had one of the top records in the league. I think keeping that continuity is going to be very important. We ultimately got knocked out by a team that has great continuity.”

The Lakers are also exploring other options but their hope is to keep some flexibility. Chris Paul has also been floated as an option for LA if he’s bought out by the Wizards following the blockbuster trade involving Bradley Beal. However, the Lakers only would only entertain the idea if it was for the veteran’s minimum.

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