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Kyle Kuzma to test unrestricted free agency in 2023

This move is not a surprise, regardless of whether the Wizards are playing well or not. But why did it have to be said out loud?

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Washington Wizards v Denver Nuggets
Kyle Kuzma seems to have one foot out the door already.
Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

Washington Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma will enter unrestricted free agency in 2023, according to Ava Wallace of The Washington Post. Kuzma is having a career season statistically, where he is averaging 21.4 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. This comes soon after he made similar comments to Josh Robbins of The Athletic.

Kuzma is also one of the NBA’s most coveted trade targets for the Feb. 9 deadline because he is on the second year of a three-year, $39 million extension that he signed with the Los Angeles Lakers before the 2020-21 NBA season. Kuzma has an option for the 2023-24 season, which he will opt out of. This is not a surprise given his production, whether the Wizards are playing well or not. Kuzma will command significantly more on the open market next summer than $13 million.

All that said, as Wallace noted, it is a bit surprising that Kuzma is saying this before the halfway point of the NBA season. It also puts the Wizards in an uncomfortable situation as they head toward the trade deadline during an eight-game losing streak. If the Wizards don’t make the playoffs (which is more likely than not), Kuzma may sign with another team and leave the Wizards with nothing. And on the other hand, if the Wizards want to trade Kuzma now, they probably can’t get a similar caliber player in return on a contract like he has right now.

It’s been a bad news Friday and I’m sorry to pile on. But if there is a silver lining here, perhaps this gets the Wizards toward a much-needed rebuild. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.