‘They showed me love’ – Kuzma open to long-term extension with Wizards

Kyle Kuzma shared on Tuesday that he is open to a long-term extension with the Washington Wizards once he moves into free agency.

Kuzma, 27, is expected to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, declining his $13 million player option for 2023-24.

The Los Angeles Lakers’ former 27th overall draft pick in 2017 is having a career-best season with the Wizards, averaging 21.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game, playing in 45 of the 46 possible games to this point.

At 1.89 meters, Kuzma showed off his ability to defend three positions while also shooting 2.6 threes per game, providing size, versatility and field distance in the desperate league-wide demand.

Kuzma shared that he hasn’t had any conversations with the Wizards about a possible extension, but is open to talking when it comes to how he’s allowed the team to spread its wings.

“This is probably coming,” he told The Athletic. “But I said from the very beginning that I love being here because I can play my game and I’ve improved a lot.

“It was incredible for me to take on a new role… they understand what I’m doing right now. I’m trying to get better and that’s my priority.”

He added that he believes the team will want to retain him for the long term and appreciates the feeling of being wanted after he was kicked out of the Los Angeles Lakers as part of their trade with Russell Westbrook.

“It’s a source of peace, because whenever someone asks for you, it’s a good thing,” he said. “You want to be wanted in this world. You don’t want to be wanted.

“I mean, it’s a great feeling… As a person you love it, you feel love. You feel it and it makes you alive. That’s a great thing, especially when you consider the landscape of this sport between teams and players.

“Players go from year to year, there are very short periods now. It’s a blessing for someone who wants to keep you for a long time.

“They showed me love. They let me show my game and show the league that I’m not just a role player. I’m someone who’s coming right now – that’s the biggest thing for me.”

“I want to keep moving up. To have a leadership position, to have a place where I develop and play my game and my role and get better with every game – that’s what I care about.”

With his ability to leave the Wizards at the end of the season, Kuzma said he was aware he would be involved in trade rumors as they were considering what they could potentially get in return for the franchise, but said that didn’t bother him.

“I’ve been in trade talks for five of the six years in my career,” he said. “I saw. I lived. I understood.

“I’ve been trading rumors at the highest levels over the years. So, I’m numb to white noise and noise in general. I don’t get shaken up and I don’t get annoyed. I’m a person who really isn’t bothered at this point in my life.”

“I am the only resource in this world who knows what I want to do or think. People can think, say I want to go out, and say I want to be here and all, but nobody really knows but me and I don’t even know.

“I don’t get caught up in speculation and all the headlines because I’ve been there. I’ve been there and I did that. I understand what’s going on.”

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