Charania had a one-on-one with the Wizards forward that went live on Tuesday.
Wizards’ Kyle Kuzma: “As soon as I got traded, I was ready to be more.”— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 6, 2022
Kuzma goes one-on-one with @TheAthletic on his breakout season as 20 PPG scorer, Lakers exit, misconceptions, free agency landscape and much more: https://t.co/x4Vwsr132B
It’s also worth noting that the grim reaper of Suns rumors aka 98.7’s John Gambadoro has NOT shot down the Kuzma-to-Phoenix rumors yet.
The Wizards are reportedly interested in Atlanta’s John Collins, which could facilitate a potential deal, but according to Charania, the Wizards view Kuzma as a cornerstone player.
Phoenix could always swoop in as a third team to facilitate a trade between the two clubs, but it wouldn’t come without a price.
Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard told The Athletic: “We’ve had great respect for Kyle since he’s been in the league. He had a great rookie season, being in the Rookie of the Year conversation, and then life changed when LeBron came. So when the trade happened, it allowed Kyle an opportunity to join our program, have a bigger role, start for us, and he has been outstanding.”
By The Numbers
Kyle Kuzma — 6’9” Wing/Forward
Kuzma is averaging a career-high 20.6 points per game on 45.9% shooting from the field.
- PPG: 20.6
- RPG: 7.7
- APG: 3.6
- BPG: 0.5
- SPG: 0.4
- FG%: 45.9%
- 3PFG%: 30.6%
- FT%: 73.8%
- TS%: 55.1%
- USG: 26.0%
- DRTG: 108.3
- ORTG: 111.3
- NRTG: 3.0
Kuzma’s increased role has led to his best season yet in the NBA. That leads to the long-term question mark for any team (including the Wizards) when looking ahead to what his next contract could fetch him.
The former Utah Ute signed a three year, $39 million deal with the Lakers (prior to being traded) which included a player option for the final year, which is next season. Given his breakout season, it’s very likely that Kuzma declines his $13 million option and enters free agency looking to get paid.
There’s a decent chance that Kuzma would wind up being a rental for a contender like Phoenix given their current cap situation. That’s the one area where it gets tricky for the Suns, as they’ll have a decision to make with Cam Johnson this summer already.
That leads to the question of how much do you actually want to give up for Kuzma from a draft capital perspective and player perspective if he is just a rental? Do you attempt to re-sign him and let Cam Johnson walk? It likely becomes a scenario of either or, not both.
There are many questions to consider that will arrive in the very near future should Phoenix actually acquire Kuzma. Ultimately, the most important factor is that he would increase their chances of winning a championship by providing a scoring punch they desperately need.
When is the last time Devin Booker had a teammate average 20 points per game or more?
You’d have to go way back to the 2015-17 seasons when 18 and 19 year old Booker was teammates with none other than Eric “I don’t wanna be here” Bledsoe.
While Kuzma would likely dip below 20 PPG mark if he arrived in Phoenix due to the usage rate dropping, it would still be a luxury for the Suns to have a wing scorer that can consistently go for 20+ on any given night.
Kuzma has had a couple nice things to say about the Suns on Twitter and is good pals with Devin Booker for what it’s worth.
Another name on the Washington Wizards that could pop up is forward Deni Avdija. The Wizards have been connected to Jae Crowder, so if the Suns are unable to finalize anything involving Kuzma then Avdija could be another viable option as a rotational wing that fits their system well.
What do you think, Suns fans?
Should Phoenix pursue Kuzma, and if so what’s the package you’re sending to get it done? Let us know in the comments below!