Based on the terms of Kyle Kuzma‘s contract with the Wizards, he could sign a veteran extension at any time this season or could pick up his player option for the 2023/24 season to delay his free agency until 2024. However, he’s currently not planning to take either of those paths.
According to Ava Wallace of The Washington Post, Kuzma said in an interview that he doesn’t expect to sign an in-season extension and that he intends to turn down his ’23/24 player option in order to become an unrestricted free agent this coming summer.
Kuzma’s plans don’t come as a major surprise. He’s in the midst of a career year, averaging 21.4 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game in his first 28 contests (35.0 MPG) with a shooting line of .462/.343/.692. At age 27, he’s still very much in his prime, and his value has never been higher — he could be one of the best players to reach the UFA market in 2023.
Kuzma is currently earning $13MM, which is also what his 2023/24 option is worth. It’s safe to assume he’ll be able to exceed that figure on a new contract. An extension with the Wizards could max out at approximately $70MM over four years, but based on the way he has performed so far this season, it certainly seems possible that Kuzma can top that deal as a free agent too. In other words, it’s in his best interest financially to become a free agent next offseason even if he’s interested in remaining in D.C. long-term.
“Those are just business decisions,” Kuzma said, according to Wallace.
Although Kuzma’s intention to become a free agent doesn’t mean he wants to leave the Wizards, the club will have to proceed cautiously to avoid losing the former first-round pick for nothing when his contract is up.
If president of basketball operations Tommy Sheppard and his front office aren’t confident in their ability to retain Kuzma beyond this season, it makes sense to gauge his value on the trade market. Kuzma’s name has already popped up in some trade rumors and will certainly do so again as the February 9 deadline approaches.