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Wizards Star Remains In Play For Western Conference Pair

Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis

The Washington Wizards aren’t what people would call a championship contender.

Indeed, they have a ways to go to be considered as such. As a result, their top player —Kyle Kuzma —has had the opportunity to be the guy in The District. He’s responded relatively well, increasing his production and taking the responsibilities of his featured role seriously. Despite that, Kuzma’s appears best served as the third option on a title team. He’s simply the not reliable enough in isolation (0.75 PPP in 2023-24) to be the top dog.

However, he’s quick and crafty with a knack for scoring in transition (1.23 PPP in 2023-24). Contending that like to get out and run —or would like to —would have an eye out for the former first-round pick.

Wizards’ Kyle Kuzma Remains In Play For Kings, Pelicans

It’s still early in the offseason, and the Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans are considering a trade for Kuzma, per The Stein Line’s Marc Stein. The Flint native’s de-escalating contract appears to be particularly attractive to the Pelicans at least. One can imagine that the Kings would have similar sentiments, particularly after completing a sign-and-trade for DeMar DeRozan.

“League sources say New Orleans remains very open to Brandon Ingram trade discussion and (Kuzma) looms as a potential difference-maker whose team-friendly contract ($64.4 million over the next three seasons and descending all the way down to $19.4 million in 2026-27) virtually ensures that the Wizards will continue to field interest in the versatile forward in this ultra-punitive era for teams with high payrolls,” Stein reports.

“Sacramento, for example, continues to come up as a Kuzma suitor even after landing (DeRozan).” he adds.


A trade between the Wizards and the Pelicans that featured Kuzma and Brandon Ingram would be a blockbuster.

Kuzma’s struggles from beyond the arc make him a strange choice for New Orleans. Not only would the bulk of their starters streaky jump shooters, they’re at their best attacking the rim. However, he would thrive on the break with Dejounte Murray and Zion Williamson. If he were to take the bulk of his 3s from the corner, he may not interfere with the spacing either. To that point, he’s a career 39.1 percent shooter from 3.

Their perimeter defense would be threatened as Kuzma, Williamson, and CJ McCollum leave a lot to be desired in that area. Even Murray is prone to getting caught up on screens.

If Pelicans head coach Willie Green can get the best out of them, it’ll work. If not, their championship puzzle will look puzzling.

At 26 years old, Ingram could actually become a part of Washington’s core.

Whether they’re willing to give him a max contract extension is another matter. Business is about the return on investment and the Wizards’ front office may not believe he’ll provide enough value to the organization to justify offering him the max.

However, looking at just the basketball side of it, Ingram would be a great acquisition. He’s the antithesis to Kuzma in that he excels in one-on-one situations (0.96 PPP in isolation, 0.97 PPP on post-ups in 2023-24) but isn’t necessarily looking to beat teams on the break. After signing Jonas Valanciunas to a three-year contract and trading for Malcolm Brogdon, Washington would ideally be slowing the pace anyways. As a result, Ingram’s style is more appropriate for the rest of the veterans.

That isn’t to say the Wizards won’t push the pace. With Alex Sarr, Bilal Coulibaly, and Jordan Poole, they should. Rather than only thriving with a run n’ gun game or halfcourt sets though, they’d have better balance.


Kuzma’s on-court fit with the Kings is particularly questionable.

They’d have three players —Kuzma, DeRozan, and Domantas Sabonis —who frequently posted up and shot from the midrange. The offense could get clunky, the court clogged court, the situation awkward. Even sticking Kuzma in the corner could get sticky as DeRozan and Keegan Murray need to eat from there. Factor in the defensive questions and it might be a disaster waiting to happen.

There’s a question as to how this would work out for the Wizards as well. Sacramento could be offering Kevin Huerter and draft capital. It would be something of a tri-state homecoming for the 25-year-old, who grew up in New York and played at Maryland. Huerter also provides Washington with a much needed off-ball shooter. However, that may not be enough to move Kuzma, who could fetch more from another team.

The Wizards would probably like Murray, who could be a long-term starter at small forward. Nonetheless, the Kings have made the 3-point specialist unavailable in trade talks. In fact, had they been willing to part ways with Murray, they may have been able to nick Utah Jazz star Lauri Markkanen.


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