Wizards Notes: Kuzma, Poole, Rebuilding, Van Gundy

After trading Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis, the Wizards have decided to build their future around Kyle Kuzma and Jordan Poole, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Both players were part of championship teams early in their careers, and Hughes points out that they were able to learn the game from NBA legends.

It appeared Washington’s new management team might opt for a full rebuild, but the Wizards made a strong push to keep Kuzma, who signed a four-year deal worth at least $90MM. The 27-year-old forward said he received indications that the franchise wanted to re-sign him during his exit interview with chairman Ted Leonsis.

“Ted (made) an emphasis that he wanted me to be here, I knew that,” Kuzma said. “I think over my past two years here I’ve been very transparent as a person. The whole entire organization from Ted, the past regime and then the new regime, they’re very transparent people, too. I never really had much to worry about on that front. I still wanted to go through the process. I think and believe I made the right decision.”

Poole, who’s about to start the first year of the extension he signed with Golden State, feels fortunate to have entered the league on a team that had Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.

“Those are the two greatest shooters of all time in my opinion, personally,” he said. “There’s just things that you learn in practice, on the road that you wouldn’t be able to learn not being in the mix. I’m thankful for that.” 

There’s more on the Wizards:

  • During a press conference Saturday, Poole deflected questions about the end of his relationship with the Warriors and about being punched by Draymond Green, relays Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. “We’re in Washington now,” Jordan Poole told reporters. “Playing with (Kuzma) now, great duo. Being able to really flourish, expand your game. Like I said, it’s a new team with an entirely new group of guys. It’s a challenge that we’re up for. We have a new front office and a lot of people are invested. Everybody is locked in and wants to be here to start something we can have that should be special.”
  • Wizards officials are focused on creating a positive culture around the team, per Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Sources tell Robbins that the front office won’t consider a full rebuilding project for at least two years. They re-signed Kuzma and brought in Poole and Tyus Jones to help develop first-round pick Bilal Coulibaly and give the team a strong foundation to build around. Robbins adds that the best draft class on the horizon appears to be in 2026, and the Wizards might consider bottoming out to take advantage of that, depending how the current plan works.
  • If Jeff Van Gundy decides to return to coaching, there’s “some mutual interest” with the Wizards, who have openings on Wes Unseld Jr.‘s staff, according to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated.
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