Ex-Lakers Starter Lands Massive New $102 Million Deal: Report

Rob Pelinka

Getty The Los Angeles Lakers traded Kyle Kuzma to the Washington Wizards as part of the 2021 deal for Russell Westbrook.

Former Los Angeles Lakers big man Kyle Kuzma is heading towards a massive payday after agreeing to terms on a new four-year, $102 million contract to remain with the Washington Wizards. This is a sizable raise from the three-year, $39 million deal Kuzma signed with the Lakers before being traded to the Wizards as part of the blockbuster Russell Westbrook trade in 2021. Spotrac projects Kuzma’s salary for the 2023-24 season will be $22.7 million.

Last season, Kuzma posted a career-high 21.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game while shooting 33.3% from long range in 64 starts for Washington. Kuzma averaged 15.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists during his four seasons with the Lakers, which included 146 starts.

“DC let’s turn this ship around!! May take time but I’m committed you guys and turning the city up!!💯💯🫶🏽,” Kuzma said in a series of June 30, 2023 tweets. “9 figures out the mud that’s blessed🙏🏽🤝🤲🏽 just a kid from flint.”

Ex-Lakers Guard Alex Caruso on Kyle Kuzma: ‘I Talk to Kuz A Lot’

Kuzma was one of the key Lakers players during the team’s 2019-20 NBA championship run. During a July 2022 interview with Heavy Sports, Kuzma’s former Lakers teammate Alex Caruso revealed that this core group of players still remain in contact.

“There’s a handful of them [I stay in contact with], we’re all still obviously tapped in on social media,” Caruso said of his former Lakers teammates during the 2022 interview. “I talk to Kuz [Kyle Kuzma] a lot about golf, about basketball, about stuff just in general. We have a great relationship. KCP [Kentavious Caldwell-Pope], LeBron through social media, a bunch of those guys from Danny Green, Dwight [Howard], still tap in with them every now and then. We got a great chemistry.”

Kyle Kuzma Called Out the Los Angeles Lakers on Twitter

The former LA forward still does not appear thrilled with how things went down during his exit from the Lakers. Kuzma mockingly retweeted a quote from Los Angeles general manager Rob Pelinka.

“Our intentions are to keep our core of young guys together,” Pelinka was quoted by the NBA Central Twitter account.

Kuzma did not seem to take Pelinka’s words at face value. The veteran implied that he heard similar things from the Los Angeles front office prior to being traded.

“Heard that before 😭😭😭😭,” Kuzma tweeted on May 23.

The Los Angeles Lakers Learned Their Lesson & Kept the 2023 Core Together in Free Agency

One year removed from an NBA title, the Lakers opted to blow up their roster. Instead of looking to sign an impact free agent like DeMar DeRozan while retaining their core, Los Angeles struck a trade for Westbrook and the results did not go as planned.

The Lakers traded Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as part of the deal for Westbrook. Los Angeles also opted not to get in a bidding war for Caruso who ultimately signed a $36.9 million contract with the Bulls.

Despite Kuzma’s skepticism, Pelinka did stay true to his word this time around. The Lakers were able to re-sign Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura and D’Angelo Russell in free agency. Los Angeles retained Reaves on a four-year, $56 million contract, while some initial projections had the promising guard landing a new deal near the $100 million mark.

“This is a great price,” The Ringer’s Bill Simmons tweeted on July 1. “The Los Angeles Lakers won the week. They have a real chance to get their 13th title now.”