Proposed Trade Lands Lakers $39 Million Star for Patrick Beverley & Kendrick Nunn

Lakers guard Patrick Beverley

Getty Lakers guard Patrick Beverley

In a December 16 article called “Three Trade Proposals to Celebrate NBA Trade Season,” Sports Illustrated’s Rohan Nadkarni proposed that the Los Angeles Lakers make a trade with the Washington Wizards.

Nadkarni’s hypothetical trade had the Lakers trading Patrick Beverley, Kendrick Nunn and draft picks to the Wizards for Kyle Kuzma, who began his career in Los Angeles.

“Let’s get started in Los Angeles, which has been rumored to be interested in a reunion with Kyle Kuzma,” Nadkarni wrote. “The Kuz can be a free agent this summer thanks to an opt out, which makes him a prime candidate to be traded from a Wizards team in free fall. (Washington has lost 11 of its last 12 games and Bradley Beal is injured.) The Lakers make this move because Russell Westbrook off the bench has actually gone well, and now they can split up their tradeable first-round picks in separate moves to try to add as many quality rotation pieces as possible. Does this trade make the Lakers a title contender? No, they would need to do more. But! Kuzma has experience playing alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and now AD is actually playing center, which should help Kuzma stay on the floor for longer. Wright is a bit of a steal here and probably even wishful thinking on my part. Though he has been injured for most of this season, Wright brought a steady hand to the Hawks last year. He can play both on and off the ball in bench lineups, and he would be a massive offensive upgrade over Beverley.

“Is a protected first enough for Washington? The Lakers pick is appealing because of the team’s boom or bust nature and LeBron’s age. The Wiz may not get a more attractive pick offered if teams think Kuzma is leaving anyway. Meanwhile, Wright has barely been a part of this season and by the time he gets back it could be practically lost already. I don’t imagine he’ll fetch a first. Bev and Nunn most likely become buyout candidates, though it’s not inconceivable one or both could be moved for another second-round pick if a contender gets desperate.”

Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report reported on December 14 that the Lakers are interested in bringing back Kuzma. Los Angeles traded Kuzma to the Wizards in August 2021 in the blockbuster Russell Westbrook trade.

Kuzma is in the second season of a three-year, $39 million contract he signed with the Lakers in December 2020. The swingman is averaging 21.4 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists for the Wizards while shooting 46.2% from the floor, 34.3% from beyond the arc and 69.2% from the free-throw line.

Report: Kyle Kuzma Wants Out of Washington

Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report reported on December 10 that Kuzma “wants out” of Washington: “He wants out,” an NBA source told Pincus. “He’s looking for over $20 million a season and in a big market [or with a contender].”

According to a December 12 story from Josh Robbins of The Athletic, Kuzma will not sign an extension with the Wizards. The Utah product is on track to decline his player option for the 2023-24 season and become an unrestricted free agent this summer, where he is predicted to approach in excess of $20 million to $25 million per year on a new deal.

“This is a sport, this is entertainment, but business always trumps all in life,” Kuzma said.

The Michigan native also said he enjoyed playing in Washington: “I enjoy it. I enjoy just being able to play my game, being able to just try to impact the game in a different role. It’s just really helped me become a much better player, and that’s always the most important thing for me: trying to evolve as a player. And I’ve been able to do that here so far.”

Bleacher Report Doesn’t Think Lakers Should Go After Kyle Kuzma

On December 12, Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox opined that the Lakers shouldn’t pursue a trade for Kuzma, who likely wouldn’t average over 20.0 points in Los Angeles since All-Stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis are ahead of him.

“However, the Lakers wouldn’t be getting this version of Kuzma,” Knox wrote. “They’d be getting the same role player Kuzma was when he last played in L.A. When James and Davis were both healthy in the 2019-20 season, Kuzma started just nine games. He averaged 25.0 minutes but just 12.8 points. As Kuzma recently noted, his play style made it difficult for him to be on the floor with James and Davis regularly. Kuzma’s impact would most likely be as a quality sixth man. L.A. already has that in Westbrook, who is averaging 14.4 points, 7.6 assists and 5.6 rebounds while shooting 40.5 percent from the floor. Having both Kuzma and Westbrook on the roster wouldn’t make a ton of sense, and Los Angeles isn’t going to convince Washington to take back Westbrook.”

The Lakers will make a trade at the end of December or in mid-January, according to a December 16 report from Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

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