The Los Angeles Lakers started the offseason with the blockbuster trade to land star point guard Russell Westbrook. The move featured the Lakers parting ways with Kyle Kuzma, providing him a fresh career restart with the Washington Wizards. Before he embarks on the path, Kuzma sent a subtle shot directed toward his former team.
Kyle Kuzma moved as part of Russell Westbrook trade
After an early playoff exit, the Lakers entered the offseason eyeing to add a dynamic playmaking guard to pair alongside LeBron James and Anthon Davis.
Los Angeles quickly acquired Westbrook through a massive trade, providing the team a Big 3 to build the roster around. The front office moved Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell, the 22nd overall pick in this year’s draft. Meanwhile, the Lakers also acquired a 2024 second-round pick and a 2028 second-round selection.
It’s quickly created a massive buzz around the franchise, with the betting odds placing the team as the 2022 NBA title favorites. With trade finally official, Kuzma aired out his true feeling concerning his fresh new start in Washington.
Kyle Kuzma finally unloads his true feelings about his time with the Lakers
Throughout the last couple of years, Kuzma has seen his name heavily associated with trade rumors.
Last week, the Lakers finally pulled the trigger by making him part of the blockbuster deal to acquire Westbrook. The move presents Kuzma with a fresh restart to his brief NBA career. The 25-year-old didn’t waste time airing out his true feelings as he subtly bashed his former team during a response from a fan on Twitter asking him what to expect from him in Washington.
“More than what I did the past two years I can tell you that,” Kuzma wrote.
The last two seasons for Kuzma have been marred by inconsistent play due to his fluctuating role. He’s struggled to find his footing as he’s coming off a lackluster campaign, averaging 12.9 points on 44.3% shooting from the floor and 36.1% from 3-point range. He played 68 out of the possible 72 regular-season games while making 32 starts.
Kuzma showed flashes of promise behind strong production in March, averaging 16.4 points on 43.2% shooting along with 7.9 rebounds in 33.3 minutes per contest. However, he’s continued to struggle in the playoffs that featured him averaging 6.3 points on 23.5% shooting and only 10.8% shooting from 3-point range against the Phoenix Suns.
Despite that, Kuzma holds the chance to carve out a significant role with the Wizards, where he can lean on a steady workload. It’s a chance to recapture the promise and hype around him that existed during his first couple of seasons.
In other words, Kuzma is well aware of the promising situation ahead that could allow him to reach personal career heights he never achieved in Los Angeles.
Lakers are moving forward with a revamped roster
Kuzma’s departure aside, the Lakers have moved forward with a revamped roster around James and Davis.
The front office made the bold move to acquire Westbrook while adding proven talent on veteran’s minimum contract. Los Angeles held financial limitations but signed seven players in free agency for roughly $15 million in total salary next season.
The Lakers signed Carmelo Anthony, Wayne Ellington, Trevor Ariza, Kent Bazemore, Dwight Howard, and Malik Monk on one-year deals. Meanwhile, Kendrick Nunn inked a two-year deal reportedly worth $10 million with a second-year player option. Los Angeles’ calculated efforts will also bring a couple more players aboard as three roster spots remain open.
Nonetheless, the Lakers are hoping the retooling will push the franchise back into title contention.
Contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.