Kyle Kuzma

Southeast Notes: Wizards Preview, Avdija, Cooper, Hornets Injuries

In his ongoing series of team previews, John Hollinger of The Athletic writes that the Wizards might not be a better overall team this season than they were in 2020/21, but he thinks they’re in a decent position to build around star Bradley Beal going forward.

By moving John Wall for Russell Westbrook, and then trading Westbrook to the Lakers, the Wizards acquired multiple players on smaller deals with less guaranteed money, thus gaining financial flexibility for 2022/23.

Hollinger identifies one area the team should definitely be improved: three-point shooting. The Wizards were dead last in three-point attempts per 100 possessions last season, even with renowned shooters Beal and Davis Bertans. New additions Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (.410 3PT%), Kyle Kuzma (.361), and Aaron Holiday (.368) all shot better than the Wizards’ team mark (.351) last season, and rookie Corey Kispert was considered one of the best pure shooters in the draft.

However, Hollinger thinks the team might regress defensively, as Bertans and Montrezl Harrell are both poor defenders who figure to see a good chunk of minutes together.

Hollinger projects the team to finish 38-44, 10th in the East, but thinks they’ll have their work cut out for them to actually hit that mark.

Here’s more from out of the Southeast:

  • Second-year forward Deni Avdija made his long-awaited return from a fractured ankle in Saturday’s preseason game, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The Wizards are high on Avdija and he’s expected to have more play-making opportunities this season, Hughes adds.
  • Hawks rookie Sharife Cooper is having an impressive preseason, according to Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta-Journal Constitution. Cooper, the 48th pick in the draft, is on a two-way contract, and coach Nate McMillan likes what he’s seen so far, per Spencer. “I love the energy that he’s bringing,” McMillan said of Cooper. “He’s scrappy. He’s playing scrappy basketball out there. He’s trying to make a statement. He’s stepping up, and he’s not pacing himself.”
  • In two separate tweets, the Hornets announced Terry Rozier sprained his ankle and will be re-evaluated later in the week, while Gordon Hayward and Mason Plumlee are both out for tomorrow’s game at Miami due to health and safety protocols.

Kyle Kuzma Thought He Would Be Traded To Kings

Since it was one of the first major moves of the 2021 NBA offseason, it’s easy to forget now that the trade that sent Russell Westbrook from the Wizards to the Lakers didn’t initially look like it would happen.

The Kings and Lakers were pretty far down the road on a trade that would’ve sent Buddy Hield to Los Angeles. Multiple players who were eventually included in the Westbrook deal – likely Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell – would’ve headed to Sacramento if the Hield trade had been finalized, so the Lakers couldn’t have done both deals. When the opportunity to acquire Westbrook arose, the Lakers pivoted to negotiating a deal with the Wizards rather than finalizing one with the Kings.

Kuzma, rumored to be part of the return for Hield, ended up getting sent to Washington in the Westbrook trade. However, he acknowledged during an appearance on No Chill With Gilbert Arenas (video link via Bleacher Report) that he believed at one point in July that he was about to become a King.

“I was kind of shocked because I thought I was going to Sac,” Kuzma said of being dealt to the Wizards. “The Sacramento deal with Buddy Hield, that s–t was done. So I’m thinking in my head, ‘Yeah, okay, well, I’m in Sac, 45-minute flight, that’s not bad.’ … But then out of nowhere, it goes, ‘You’re going to Washington.'”

Kuzma, who spent the first four years of his NBA career in Los Angeles after being selected in the first round of the 2017 draft, will be moving across the country rather than just elsewhere in California. However, he didn’t sound too disappointed about becoming a Wizard instead of a King, expressing excitement about the opportunity to team up with Bradley Beal in Washington.

“I was super hyped, obviously, because it’s a better situation (than Sacramento),” Kuzma said. “Going to Sac would’ve been fun, I would’ve went crazy for sure. But to have the opportunity to play with Brad Beal, someone that is trying to really be a winner in this league … It’s just a perfect opportunity. It’s a lot of guys that have chips on their shoulders, everyone’s ready to prove something. That’s when something can be special.”

Kuzma isn’t the only one whose 2021 offseason would look a lot different if the Lakers had completed a deal for Hield instead of Westbrook. That decision had a major impact on the subsequent summer moves made by the Lakers, Kings, and Wizards. If L.A. had gone in another direction, it would’ve had a ripple effect on a handful of teams and players, including perhaps Richaun Holmes, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, among others.

Unseld Jr.: Dinwiddie, Beal Will Be “Dynamic” Backcourt

Wes Unseld Jr. is excited about the talent he’ll have available with the Wizards in his first NBA head coaching job, writes Fred Katz of The Athletic. Although the former Nuggets associate head coach is leaving the No. 3 seed in the West for a team that had to go through the play-in tournament last season, Unseld believes Washington is ready to compete right away.

He’s particularly thrilled about the addition of guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who agreed to a three-year, $62MM contract in free agency and was acquired in a complex five-team trade. Dinwiddie was a proficient scorer before missing most of last season with a partially torn ACL, and Unseld expects him and Bradley Beal to form a dangerous backcourt.

“On paper, it’s one of the most dynamic 1-2s, 2-1s, however you wanna call it, on the East Coast,” he said. “So, I’m excited to have both those guys. I think they’re about the right thing. I think they’re gonna play together, make us better. Honestly, the way they can score the ball, they’re gonna bail us out of a lot of tough spots.”

Unseld discusses several other topics in the lengthy interview with Katz:

On the versatility of Kyle Kuzma, who was acquired from the Lakers in the deal that included Dinwiddie:

“Whether you wanna call him a two, three or four, he’s gonna be out there. He’s gonna space the floor. He’s gonna make shots. I think the game has moved away from the standard point guard, two-guard, small forward, etc. I think you wanna put your best matchups out there.”

On sorting out playing time at center, where Daniel Gafford is expected to start, but Thomas Bryant will return from an ACL injury and newly-acquired Montrezl Harrell will also expect minutes:

“I made this point to those guys when I spoke to them. All of that is great, but all of our decisions are gonna be based on what’s best for the group. I may at times ask somebody to sacrifice a little bit for the betterment of the group. There’s times when I may ask (them) to do more. And I think that’s a fair way to look at it, and I think it’s just one of our pillars. It’s about us. It’s about ‘we,’ not ‘me.’ ”

On the plans for first-round pick Corey Kispert, who joins a team loaded with young wing players:

“I don’t know. I never wanna paint myself into a corner, commit to something I’m uncertain of, but I think he has a good chance to be impactful. I said at draft night, he’s got a discernible NBA talent. His maturity, the fact that he’s played four years at a high level for a great coach — he’s disciplined. He understands his strengths. He’s gonna play to his strengths. And his ability to stretch the defense is a premium in the league.”

On the significant changes the Wizards have undergone since the draft:

“On a macro level, (changes to the team) don’t change our overall philosophy when it comes to spacing, playing with pace, shots, as far as what we value. That doesn’t change. I think you’ve got to shift your gears as far as some of the nuanced things you run. … I think as coaches, we all steal from each other, so there are gonna be some things that are very similar-looking to what you’re accustomed to.”

Five-Team Russell Westbrook, Spencer Dinwiddie Trade Now Official

The five-team trade involving the Lakers, Wizards, Nets, Spurs, and Pacers, headlined by Russell Westbrook (to Los Angeles) and Spencer Dinwiddie (to Washington) is now official, according to press releases from multiple clubs.

The deal began as a two-team trade sending Westbrook from the Wizards to the Lakers, an agreement that was completed around the start of the draft last Thursday. Later that night, the Wizards and Pacers agreed to a deal sending Aaron Holiday that would be folded into the Westbrook blockbuster.

Subsequently, during free agency, the Wizards and Dinwiddie wanted to find a way to get the point guard to D.C. and ultimately convinced the Nets to accommodate a sign-and-trade. The Spurs entered the mix late to accommodate Washington’s salary-dump of Chandler Hutchison.

Here’s the full breakdown of the deal, based on reports to date:

  • To Lakers:
    • Russell Westbrook (from Wizards)
    • The Bulls’ 2023 second-round pick (from Wizards)
    • Either the Wizards’ or Grizzlies’ 2024 second-round pick (whichever is least favorable; from Wizards)
    • The Wizards’ 2028 second-round pick (from Wizards)
  • To Wizards:
  • To Nets:
    • Either the Wizards’ or the Grizzlies’ 2024 second-round pick (whichever is most favorable; from Wizards)
    • The right to swap the Warriors’ 2025 second-round pick for the Wizards’ 2025 second-round pick (from Wizards)
    • The draft rights to Nikola Milutinov (from Spurs)
  • To Spurs:
    • Chandler Hutchison (from Wizards)
    • Either the Bulls’, the Lakers’, or the Pistons 2022 second-round pick (whichever is most favorable; from Wizards)
  • To Pacers:

The Nets also generated the most significant trade exception of any team in the deal — it’ll be worth about $11.5MM.

While it was a fairly minor move for Brooklyn, San Antonio, and Indiana, the deal will significantly reshape the Lakers’ and Wizards’ rosters for the 2021/22 season. Los Angeles consolidated its depth, acquiring a star player who wanted to team up with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, then filled out its roster in free agency.

The Wizards, meanwhile, traded one star for several depth pieces and managed to replace their old point guard with one who will earn less than half of Westbrook’s salary for the next couple seasons. The deal should increase the club’s cap flexibility while fortifying its bench.

Wizards Notes: Trade Negotiations, Dinwiddie, Kuzma, Neto, Avdija

The Nets, who recognized that Bradley Beal wanted the Wizards to acquire Spencer Dinwiddie and knew they had some leverage in sign-and-trade talks, initially asked Washington for a first-round pick, reports Fred Katz of The Athletic. When they were unsuccessful, the Nets tried to get Washington to part with Deni Avdija or Rui Hachimura, according to Katz.

However, the Wizards held firm in those negotiations and ended up keeping their top assets, instead sending Brooklyn a future second-round pick and a second-round pick swap. The Nets will also generate an $11.5MM trade exception in the deal.

As Katz details, the Wizards also had to sweeten the deal for the Lakers to convince them to loop the Russell Westbrook trade agreement into Washington’s acquisition of Dinwiddie via sign-and-trade, which is why L.A. will be receiving three second-round selections from the Wizards instead of just two.

Finally, Katz reports that the final version of the complex five-team trade will see the Wizards acquire cash considerations from the Pacers. The full breakdown of the trade agreement can be seen on our offseason trade tracker.

Here’s more on the Wizards:

  • For much of this week, there had been a league-wide assumption that the Wizards may end up rerouting Kyle Kuzma to a new team as part of the Dinwiddie deal, but Washington never included him in trade discussions, according to David Aldridge of The Athletic, who notes that the club has significantly improved its depth with this week’s roster moves.
  • Raul Neto‘s new deal with the Wizards will be a one-year, minimum-salary contract, according to Katz. Neto will join Dinwiddie and Aaron Holiday on the club’s point guard depth chart.
  • Although Deni Avdija has been cleared for basketball activities, he’s not playing for the Wizards in Summer League, writes Katz. The club wants to limit the risk of a setback for 2020’s lottery pick, who is recovering from a right fibular hairline fracture.

Wizards To Acquire Spencer Dinwiddie Via Sign-And-Trade

11:56pm: The Spurs are sending the draft rights to 2015 first-round pick Nikola Milutinov to the Nets in the five-team trade, according to Fred Katz of The Athletic (Twitter link). That will satisfy the “touching” requirements we outlined below and allow the deal to be officially completed once the moratorium ends on Friday.

Katz adds (via Twitter) that the Wizards have also agreed to trade one more second-round pick (Chicago’s 2023 selection) to the Lakers. Washington is giving up five second-round selections in the deal (three to the Lakers, one to the Spurs, and one to the Nets), as well as a second-round swap (to the Nets).

Finally, Katz reports that the third year of Dinwiddie’s contract will be partially guaranteed (Twitter link).


5:04pm: The Wizards and Spencer Dinwiddie are in agreement on a three-year, $62MM deal that will land the veteran point guard in Washington, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). The club will acquire Dinwiddie from the Nets via sign-and-trade.

That $62MM figure had been expected for Dinwiddie’s deal with the Wizards, since it’s the most the team could pay him by looping his sign-and-trade into the larger Russell Westbrook deal with the Lakers, notes Fred Katz of The Athletic (Twitter link).

According to Charania (Twitter link), the Nets will receive a second-round pick and a draft-pick swap from the Wizards in the sign-and-trade agreement. The move will also create an $11.5MM trade exception for Brooklyn.

Additionally, the Wizards will trade Chandler Hutchison and a second-round pick to the Spurs as part of the multi-team deal, Charania reports (via Twitter). Moving Hutchison’s $4MM+ salary will allow Washington to remain out of tax territory for now, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link) provides the details on the draft assets, reporting that the Wizards are sending a 2022 second-rounder to San Antonio and a 2024 second-rounder to Brooklyn, as well as a 2025 second-round pick swap to the Nets.

The 2022 second-round pick headed to San Antonio will be the most favorable of the Lakers’, Bulls’, and Pistons’ second-rounders, tweets Fred Katz of The Athletic.

That 2025 swap will give Brooklyn a chance to send Golden State’s second-rounder to Washington in exchange for the Wizards’ 2025 second-rounder, tweets Tim Bontemps of ESPN. The 2024 second-rounder will be the more favorable of the Wizards’ and Grizzlies’ selections, Bontemps adds.

In total, Wojnarowski tweets, the deal will include five teams: the Wizards, Nets, Spurs, Lakers, and Pacers. The Westbrook trade agreement and the Wizards’ deal for Aaron Holiday will become part of this larger deal once it’s officially completed after the moratorium lifts on Friday.

Here’s what the full trade should look like, based on the details reported to date:

  • Wizards to acquire Dinwiddie (via sign-and-trade), Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell, Holiday, and the draft rights to Isaiah Todd (No. 31 pick).
  • Lakers to acquire Westbrook, either the Wizards’ or the Grizzlies’ 2024 second-round pick (whichever is less favorable; from Wizards), and the Wizards’ 2028 second-round pick.
  • Nets to acquire either the Wizards’ or the Grizzlies’ 2024 second-round pick (whichever is more favorable; from Wizards) and the right to swap their the Warriors’ 2025 second-round pick for the Wizards’ 2025 second-round pick.
  • Spurs to acquire Hutchison and either the Bulls’, Lakers,’, or Pistons 2022 second-round pick (whichever is most favorable; from Wizards).
  • Pacers to acquire the draft rights to Isaiah Jackson (No. 22 pick).

As Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report points out (via Twitter), there will likely be at least one more piece involved between the Nets and Spurs in order to satisfy the rule that every team in a multi-team trade must “touch” two other teams in the deal. As reported so far, Brooklyn and San Antonio are each only receiving assets from (or sending an asset to) the Wizards. That last piece would likely be something minor, such as cash or the draft rights to a stashed player.

In Dinwiddie, the Wizards are getting a 28-year-old point guard who is coming off a lost season. He appeared in just three games before missing the rest of the 2020/21 campaign due to a partially torn ACL. However, Dinwiddie was reportedly cleared for all basketball activities in June and the expectation is that he’ll be good to go for the fall.

In his last full season, Dinwiddie averaged 20.6 PPG and 6.8 APG on .415/.308/.778 shooting in 64 games (31.2 MPG) for Brooklyn in 2019/20.

Word broke on Monday night that the Wizards and Dinwiddie were nearing an agreement, but the club didn’t have the cap space necessary to acquire him without getting the Nets’ cooperation in a sign-and-trade. Because Brooklyn didn’t want to take on any salary but wanted an asset or two for agreeing to play ball, it took all involved parties a couple days to work out the details of the deal that would get the point guard to D.C.

Trade Rumors: Dinwiddie, Hornets, Ingles, T. Young

Spencer Dinwiddie is close to a deal with the Wizards, but it may take some complex maneuvering to get him there, Fred Katz writes in The Athletic’s free agency recap. The two sides are reportedly hammering out a three-year contract worth $60MM, but Washington is over the cap, so a sign-and-trade will have to be arranged involving the Nets and maybe more teams.

Katz points out that Brooklyn is already over the luxury tax threshold for next season and isn’t interested in adding salary. He suggests the teams may try to tie this deal to the trade sending Russell Westbrook to the Lakers. Katz is confident that Dinwiddie will eventually join the Wizards, but it won’t be easy to work through the details.

In the same piece, Alex Schiffer notes that Brooklyn has been trying to unload DeAndre Jordan‘s contract, which is worth nearly $20MM over the next two years. John Hollinger says the Lakers could send Kyle Kuzma directly to the Nets instead of the Wizards, which would enable Brooklyn to include Jordan and avoid a huge rise in its tax bill.

There’s more on potential trades to watch for:

  • The Hornets are one of the few teams that still has flexibility after an active first night of free agency, Hollinger adds. A sign-and-trade of Devonte’ Graham allows Charlotte to have $15MM in cap room or to expand the deal and bring another player, possibly Lauri Markkanen. Hollinger states that the Hornets still need one more guard and another big man.
  • The Warriors would be interested in trading for Joe Ingles if the Jazz make him available, sources tell Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic. Ingles will turn 34 soon, but his passing and shooting would be valuable in Golden State’s system, though Thompson cautions that actually acquiring him would be tricky from a cap perspective. The Warriors still have hope of signing longtime Spurs guard Patty Mills, Thompson adds.
  • Several contending teams and younger teams are interested in getting Thaddeus Young from the Bulls, tweets Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Chicago is hoping to resolve the situation with Markkanen before making a decision on Young.
  • There’s still a chance the Raptors could keep Goran Dragic– who is being acquired from the Heat in the Kyle Lowry sign-and-trade – rather than flipping him to another team, according to Michael Grange of Sportsnet (Twitter link).

Trade Rumors: Warriors, T. Harris, OKC, Jordan, Sexton, Wolves

Trade speculation involving the Warriors‘ top assets – including James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody, and possibly future first-round picks – has died down a little since the draft came and went without a deal, with team owner Joe Lacob publicly stating a major deal this offseason is unlikely.

A source within the organization tells Kendra Andrews of NBC Sports Bay Area that there’s only one player the Warriors would be willing to make all those aforementioned assets available for, and that player hasn’t been made available via trade.

While the player wasn’t specifically named, Andrews writes that it’s hard not to assume it’s a reference to Bradley Beal, whom Golden State’s stars would reportedly love to add to the roster. However, Beal continues to give no indications that he wants the Wizards to move him.

Here are a few more trade-related notes and rumors from around the NBA:

  • In addition to shopping Ben Simmons, the Sixers have made Tobias Harris available, according to veteran NBA reporter Mitch Lawrence of SiriusXM NBA Radio (Twitter link), who says the Rockets turned down a potential deal for Harris.
  • The Thunder are a possible candidate to take on DeAndre Jordan in a trade with the Nets, says Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. It’s not clear if Oklahoma City would become involved in a multi-team trade to make that happen or if it’d be a straight salary-dump deal.
  • Fischer also reports in the same story that a trade involving Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton appears unlikely at this point.
  • The Timberwolves “had eyes” for Kyle Kuzma before the Lakers reached a deal to send him to the Wizards, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic, who says Minnesota could pursue Kuzma again if Washington makes him available. Fischer adds that the Wolves are open to flipping Taurean Prince after acquiring him from Cleveland.

Free Agent Rumors: Dinwiddie, Ball, DeRozan, Pistons, Clippers

There are conflicting rumors on the possibility of the Wizards acquiring Spencer Dinwiddie via sign-and-trade, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic, who says that one source described that scenario as “pure vapor,” while another insisted that it’s real if the Nets can dump DeAndre Jordan‘s contract in the process.

As Hollinger points out, if the Wizards expand their Russell Westbrook trade with the Lakers to include Brooklyn, they could theoretically flip Kyle Kuzma to the Nets and acquire Dinwiddie via sign-and-trade while also taking on Jordan’s contract.

However, there are other scenarios in play for both Dinwiddie and the Wizards. Both Hollinger and Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report suggest that the idea of the Thunder signing Dinwiddie for a deal in the two-year, $40MM range has been floating around the league, and Fischer reiterates that Dinwiddie is a viable Plan B for the Pelicans if they miss out on Kyle Lowry.

Meanwhile, both Hollinger and Fischer say the Wizards are also believed to have interest in point guard Alex Caruso, whose market could be in the neighborhood of the full mid-level exception. Hollinger adds that there has been “some hum” about the possibility of Washington having interest in Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon.

Here are a few more rumors on some of this year’s top free agents:

  • Hollinger and Fischer identify the Bulls as the most likely team to sign Lonzo Ball to an offer sheet, likely in the four-year, $80-84MM range. However, Chicago would have to dump some salary to make room for such an offer sheet, and it’s unclear if the team is prepared to make those moves without being certain the Pelicans won’t match the offer, notes Hollinger.
  • The Celtics continue be mentioned as a possible Ball suitor, per Fischer and Sam Amick of The Atheltic. Amick also names the Mavericks as a possibility for Ball, while Hollinger dubs the Pacers a “dark horse” in the Ball sweepstakes, suggesting that a deal sending Malcolm Brogdon to the Pelicans could tempt New Orleans. Finally, Hollinger mentions an intriguing double sign-and-trade possibility that would send Lonzo to the Hornets to team up with his brother LaMelo Ball, with Devonte’ Graham going to the Pelicans.
    • Note: Hollinger has since amended this last item, suggesting that Lonzo and Graham could be involved in a double-sign-and-trade, but that Ball would likely be rerouted to a team besides Charlotte in that scenario.
  • The idea of DeMar DeRozan signing with the Heat for their mid-level exception has been a hot rumor lately, according to Hollinger. However, Fischer says DeRozan is also said to have interest from the Knicks, Pistons, and Mavericks, while Amick indicates a return to the Spurs remains “very possible.”
  • According to both Hollinger and Fischer, Kelly Olynyk has been increasingly mentioned as a target for the Pistons, who also may re-sign Cory Joseph at a lesser rate after waiving him over the weekend.
  • Outside of bringing back Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers‘ top priorities in free agency are re-signing Reggie Jackson and Nicolas Batum, sources tell Amick.

Free Agent Rumors: Dinwiddie, Schröder, Oubre, Cauley-Stein

The idea of Nets free agent Spencer Dinwiddie replacing Russell Westbrook as the Wizards‘ point guard seems to be gaining momentum.

After multiple reporters mentioned the Dinwiddie-to-D.C. possibility earlier in the week, Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer writes today that with Chris Paul likely to return to the Suns, Dinwiddie is expected to be the next free agent point guard off the board. A sign-and-trade that sends either Kyle Kuzma or Montrezl Harrell to the Nets and Dinwiddie to the Wizards is a real possibility, Fischer suggests.

Fischer adds that the Nets are continuing to look for ways to move off of DeAndre Jordan‘s contract.

We have more free agency rumors:

  • According to Zach Lowe of ESPN neither the Wizards nor the Kings are interested in a sign-and-trade for Dennis Schröder. That means Buddy Hield may be out as an option for the Lakers, and it will be a challenge to expand the Lakers/Wizards blockbuster any further using Schröder. As Lowe notes, a handful of teams in need of a point guard have ample cap space, so there will be few paths for the Lakers to recoup value for losing Schröder.
  • Kelly Oubre has interest in the Spurs and believes his career could flourish under Gregg Popovich and the team’s renowned development staff, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. If the Spurs renounce some of their current free agents, they’d have more than enough space to make a big free agent signing, though it’s unclear whether Oubre would be at the top of their list, especially given his skill-set/positional overlap with Keldon Johnson.
  • The Mavericks are leaning toward picking up the $4.1MM team option on center Willie Cauley-Stein, which would keep him off the free agent market, tweets ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. MacMahon writes that Dallas likes the young rim-running big man, but the decision will ultimately hinge on whether or not an opportunity comes up that requires the team to move on from Cauley-Stein.