Wizards’ Kyle Kuzma plans to opt out of contract, become free agent after the season

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When Kyle Kuzma signed his current contract, he was a reserve for the then-defending champion Los Angeles Lakers. Since then, he has grown into a core player for the Washington Wizards following a 2021 trade. As such, his personal circumstances have changed a great deal, and he is eager to see that reflected in his bank account. According to The Washington Post’s Ava Wallace, Kuzma plans to opt out of the final year of his contract and become a free agent next summer.

The player option in Kuzma’s contract for next season would pay him $13 million. However, most expect his market value to come in at around $20-25 million. He is averaging career-highs in points (21.4), minutes (35) and assists (3.6) this season after averaging a career-high 8.5 rebounds per game last season. While he was treated largely as a 3-and-D role player in Los Angeles, the Wizards have allowed him to develop his all-around game. He has thrived, and he’ll soon be rewarded.

It’s up to the Wizards to decide whether they’ll be the team to do the rewarding in Kuzma’s case. Bradley Beal is in the first year of a five-year max contract. Kristaps Porzingis is also playing under a max deal. Re-signing Kuzma would give the Wizards an even more expensive roster, yet their record is an unimpressive 11-18 right now. That type of performance rarely warrants aggressive expenditures.

As such, the Wizards could make Kuzma available on the trade market before February’s deadline and see what happens. He would likely draw quite a bit of interest, as two-way forwards are extremely rare and highly desirable in the postseason, when teams frequently play smaller. Any team trading for the 6-foot-9 Kuzma would need to do so with the understanding that he will not be cheap to retain, but if they are willing to pay him what he’s worth, they’ll get a player who has proven both capable of fitting in as a championship role player and scaling up into a bigger role when called upon.

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