Kyle Kuzma, despite all the criticisms pundits and fans have towards his game, has always been a rock-solid player. Everyone knows about his ability to score the ball, but in recent years, he has proven his worth as a rebounder and as a team defender. But is there a chance that Kuzma, as talented of a player he is, is miscast in the role he played with the Washington Wizards over the past two years?
With the Wizards, Kuzma functions as the team's second option — first on days where Bradley Beal is out hurt. In fact, he led the Wizards in shot attempts this past season, with 17.8 per night. But it has become increasingly clear just how far a team could go when Kuzma is playing this prominent a role.
Even then, Kyle Kuzma's ability to put up stats in bunches could make him an appealing target for some teams in dire need of scoring punch when NBA free agency kicks off in July.
But for teams to get the most bang for their buck, it sure seems like putting Kuzma in a role much more reminiscent of the one he played back when he was with the championship-winning iteration of the Los Angeles Lakers back in 2020 is the shrewd move.
Whatever the case may be, Kuzma will be making bank once he hits free agency. The only question now is where he'll be playing as he does.
These three teams may be the best destinations for Kuzma in terms of bringing out the best in the 27-year old forward in terms of playing winning basketball.
Los Angeles Lakers
Some may say that familiarity breeds contempt, but in this case, familiarity could be exactly what Kyle Kuzma needs to go back to playing effective team basketball.
Sure, at this point in his career, having won an NBA championship three years ago, contending for a title may not be Kuzma's number one priority when it comes to choosing his next playing destination. But it's clear, from Kuzma's lovefest towards LeBron James and the Lakers throughout the years, that the 27-year old forward is angling for a return to the Purple and Gold.
Sure, Kuzma's last two statistical seasons with the Lakers weren't particularly inspiring. He averaged 12 points per game on middling efficiency, and he took plenty of licks from the unforgiving Lakers fanbase as a result of his sometimes confounding shot selection. But his defense and total buy-in towards the Lakers' team philosophy made him such a valuable member of their rotation.
Acquiring Kyle Kuzma is nothing but a pipe dream for the Lakers at this point. Their cap situation is too messy as well. Will the Wizards bite on a sign-and-trade built on D'Angelo Russell? Probably not.
But in any case, given the Lakers' need for more quality wings and Kuzma's experience playing with both LeBron James and Anthony Davis, there may not be a more appealing destination for the six-year forward.
Speaking of teams with dire needs on the wing, the Cleveland Cavaliers currently have a severe roster imbalance. Isaac Okoro, Caris LeVert, and Cedi Osman aren't the answers at the 3.
Enter Kyle Kuzma.
Kuzma played as a power forward for the majority of his minutes with the Wizards, but it's not like he doesn't have experience playing the 3. In fact, Kuzma said in the past that he's more comfortable playing at the 3, and his size and rebounding for the position should help the Cavs immensely, given how undersized their backcourt is.
Moreover, acquiring Kyle Kuzma should allow the Cavs to go “small” without actually giving up size. Kuzma should be a strong fit alongside either Evan Mobley or Jarrett Allen.
Figuring out a way to open up the cap space necessary to sign Kuzma in free agency won't be easy for the Cavs, but it's certainly doable. (They will have to let go of Caris LeVert's cap hold, and, perhaps, jettison Isaac Okoro, as heartbreaking as that might be, to do so.)
At the end of the day, if Kyle Kuzma decides that making as much money as possible is his priority in free agency, then staying with the Wizards is the best choice. The Wizards can offer him the most money, while Kuzma can keep on being the featured option he has been in D.C. for the past two seasons. And if the previous reports are any indication, then the Wizards may be willing to offer the 27-year old whatever it will take for him to stay.
Making the playoffs will be an uphill climb, but with Kuzma having already won an NBA championship, it's not a bad idea, at all, for him to prioritize reaping the financial aspect of his career.