The Wizards‘ willingness to trade Rui Hachimura reflects their increased confidence that they’ll be able to re-sign Kyle Kuzma as a free agent in the summer, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack story.
According to Stein, Washington has been telling rival teams that it plans to re-sign both Kuzma and Kristaps Porzingis, who also has a player option for 2023/24 that he may decline. Porzingis likes his situation in D.C., Stein adds, so if he does turn down his option, it sounds like he’d be open to a new deal with the Wizards.
Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports has heard similar rumblings on Kuzma, reporting that the Wizards have told inquiring teams like the Suns and Hawks that the veteran forward isn’t available for trade.
Still, even if Kuzma isn’t going anywhere, Washington seems likely to make at least one more trade before the February 9 deadline, Fischer writes. The team wants to open up a spot on its 15-man roster to promote Jordan Goodwin from his two-way contract, and center Vernon Carey Jr. is considered a trade candidate, according to Fischer, who adds that rival executives are also keeping an eye on Will Barton as a possible buyout candidate if he remains in D.C. through the deadline.
Here’s more on the Wizards:
- One source tells Stein that Hachimura requested a trade before he was dealt to Los Angeles, which the 24-year-old didn’t deny over the weekend.
- Three-team discussions involving the Suns, Bucks, and Wizards helped set the price for the Lakers to acquire Hachimura, according to Fischer (Twitter link), who reports that those three clubs discussed a concept that would have sent Hachimura to Phoenix, Jae Crowder to Milwaukee, and three second-round picks and matching salaries to Washington. The Wizards ultimately decided they preferred the deal with L.A.
- In columns reacting to the Hachimura trade, Candace Buckner of The Washington Post questioned the Wizards’ plan and direction following their latest move, while David Aldridge of The Athletic referred to the deal as a “salvage operation” rather than a win for president of basketball operations Tommy Sheppard. “Not impactful, but better than letting your No. 9 pick walk for nothing,” a league executive said in a text message to Aldridge. “Not a championship move. Not a playoff move. Maybe a play-in move.”
- As Josh Robbins of The Athletic notes in a column on the trade, the Wizards generated a $6.26MM traded player exception in the swap for Hachimura’s outgoing salary, since they were able to take Nunn’s $5.25MM salary into an existing trade exception created at last season’s deadline. Washington will have until January 23, 2024 to use the newly created TPE.