After dealing with years of trade chatter, Kyle Kuzma was a vital part of the trade that landed Russell Westbrook with the Los Angeles Lakers. Kuzma finds himself in new surroundings with a promising future ahead with the Washington Wizards. Before embarking on his next NBA journey, he revealed his true feelings toward LeBron James and the Lakers.
Kyle Kuzma lands with Wizards as part of Russell Westbrook trade
The Lakers quickly changed the landscape of the offseason after acquiring the former league MVP.
Los Angeles’ aggressive move featured the front office parting ways with Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell, and the 22nd overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. The franchise eyed adding a playmaking guard to play alongside James and Anthony Davis.
Westbrook more than fulfills those qualities with an opportunity to be a key piece for a championship-contending team. Beyond that, the move effectively ends Kuzma‘s four-year tenure with the Lakers, in which he recently expressed his true sentiment concerning the situation.
Kyle Kuzma reveals his true feelings toward LeBron James and Lakers after trade to Wizards
Since the Lakers‘ early playoff exit, Kuzma held a strong inkling that he could be moved this offseason.
Aside from his name mentioned in constant trade chatter, the 26-year-old saw an uptick that led to his involvement in the blockbuster move that sent Westbrook to the Lakers and him to the Wizards. During a recent interview on The No Chill podcast with former NBA star Gilbert Arenas, Kuzma revealed that he holds nothing but love and respect toward LeBron James and the Lakers.
“It’s all love. All love for sure,” Kuzma said, via Lee Tran of Fadeaway World. “A couple of days after I got traded, we were hanging out, chilling or whatever.
“I came in as a Laker that’s all I know. It was family from the jump. And even leaving, it was still family. You know getting calls or texts from Jeanie or Rob or equipment managers or people that work the front gate. Everyone is like, ‘Hope you have a successful career. You’re doing this and that.’ So no bitterness, no nothing for sure.”
Kuzma spent his first four seasons with the Lakers, where he became a key role player on a championship-winning team. Over the last two seasons, he struggled to find consistency but maintained stable playing time through it.
Kuzma’s departure from the Lakers is linked to maximizing the franchise’s title window with James leading the charge. Despite that, he holds no resentment toward his former teammate or the organization that drafted him.
Promising future ahead with the Wizards
Kuzma is heading into an entirely new situation that holds a promising future ahead.
The 26-year-old will have the opportunity to take on a significant role as a primary offensive factor alongside All-Star guard Bradley Beal. Kuzma should experience a notable uptick in his production, which will help establish himself as a bonafide starter and key piece in Washington’s future.
One of his biggest issues in Los Angeles was fitting into his offensive role next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Meanwhile, he will have every chance to secure a prominent contributor spot with the Wizards.
At the same time, Kuzma doesn’t lack any confidence, as he stated earlier this offseason that he could average 25.0 points per game in an increased role.
“I definitely can,” Kuzma said via Tyler Conway of Bleacher Report. “I definitely believe that, too. I don’t really care what nobody thinks or says. I know myself, and I know my ability. It’s hard to be consistent in an inconsistent role. I’m excited for a more consistent space next year,” Kuzma said.
“My biggest thing is I just want to play within a consistent role If I have that ability, I’ll be able to showcase what I can really do. There were parts of this year—and even anywhere else in my career—when I’m in a consistent space, I’m out there handling the ball, making teammates better, scoring, shooting, defending, rebounding. I think if I’m in that space, I’ll be good.”
All those factors set the table for Kuzma to take a significant step forward into fulfilling his lofty expectations.
Contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.