Kyle Kuzma

Los Angeles Notes: Beverley, James, Jackson, Kuzma, Caldwell-Pope, Pelinka

Patrick Beverley felt the contract extension offer he received from the Clippers before they traded him last offseason was “borderline disrespectful,” he said on J.J. Redick’s “The Old Man and the Three” podcast (hat tip to Darryn Albert of Larry Brown Sports).

“Me being there from the beginning, I’m thinking that this contract extension, I’m thinking it’s going to be easy. I walk in and they throw me a number that I felt was borderline disrespectful,” Beverley said.

Clippers executive Lawrence Frank worked out an amicable solution by trading him to Memphis, who then shipped him to one of his top destinations, Minnesota. Beverley signed a one-year extension with the Timberwolves last month.

We have more on the Los Angeles teams:

  • LeBron James carried the Lakers to victory over Washington on Friday with another 50-point performance, and coach Frank Vogel wonders if James best suited to be a center at this stage of his career, Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes. “Maybe after all these years, him playing center was really the best way to utilize him,” Vogel said. “Because that’s where he’s been doing it, by playing the center position with (Anthony Davis) out. Doing whatever the team needs to win games. And just an incredible, unbelievable, epic performance by LJ.”
  • Reggie Jackson lavished praise on Clippers fans, calling them the heart of the city, Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register writes. “I understand what it is in this city, it definitely is overwhelmed by Lakers fans. But I feel like Clippers Nation is like the heart,” he said. “It truly is L.A. It’s more so. No shot to them over there, but they’re the lights. They’re bright lights. They’re Hollywood. That’s the Lakers. … But I feel like we’re definitely the heart of the city – or that’s something we want to embody.”
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope felt that getting traded by the Lakers was almost inevitable, as he told Mark Medina of“Every single year with the Lakers, I was in trade talks,” Caldwell-Pope said. Kyle Kuzma, who was also a part of the Russell Westbrook deal, said he’ll always have a place in Lakers history. “I’m cemented as a winner, and I’m cemented as a Lakers champion,” he said. “For me, it’s not about ‘what if.’ It’s time to move on. It’s time to improve my game.” The Lakers honored the duo with a video tribute on Friday, according to Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times.
  • The Lakers are suffering from “organizational fatigue” due to the demands of putting a championship-caliber team around James, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN (video link). Windhorst doubts GM Rob Pelinka can do anything significant to fix the team’s issues this offseason, since the Lakers have already dealt most of their assets. “They have nothing they can really trade of huge value,” Windhorst said.

Southeast Notes: Kuzma, Oladipo, Spoelstra, Hampton

Versatile Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma is enjoying his new opportunity as Washington’s highest-usage player following a trade from the only NBA team he had ever known, the Lakers, during the 2021 offseason, writes Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Kuzma won a title as a key rotation player for Los Angeles in 2020.

“I’ve referred to him on a number of occasions as our Swiss Army knife,” Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “Whatever we need in that moment, he’s capable of doing.”

The 6’9″ Kuzma is averaging 17.2 PPG, 8.7 RPG and 3.4 APG in 60 games for Washington, with shooting splits of .456/.342/.725.

“It’s been a great change of pace for me, a change of scenery,” the 26-year-old said of his new club. “I did as much as I (could) to maximize (myself) when I was with my former team, with changing my role every single year for the betterment of the team and trying to fit in with great players.

“But here, it’s been a lot different, because I don’t necessarily have to do that. My role has changed here. If you think about the first 25 games, I was in a different type of role than I am now: more scoring and just doing more things with the ball. It’s just great to be in a situation where I can just be myself and do what I do, and not dummy myself down.”

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Heat reserve guard Victor Oladipo returned to the court with Miami for the first time this season on Monday. He logged 11 points while shooting 4-for-7 from the floor in a 123-106 win over Oladipo’s former team, the Rockets. Oladipo called his return from a right knee quadriceps tendon surgery “everything I wanted and more,” per Jordan McPherson of the Miami Herald. A former two-time All-Star and 2o18 All-Defensive First Team honoree for the Pacers, Oladipo returned with a 15-minute cap. He has appeared in just 53 contests since the beginning of the 2019/20 NBA season due to a variety of injuries. When asked about when the guard would exceed his current strict on-court time limit, head coach Erik Spoelstra was quick to establish that the club is taking a longer-term approach. “I’m going to temper those expectations,” Spoelstra said. “He’s been out a year. Three years of injuries. Fifteen minutes, that feel amazing to him and to everybody in the locker room. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves on anything else.” 
  • Now that Oladipo is back as a contributor on the hardwood for the Heat, Spoelstra looks forward to having to make some roster adjustments with his perimeter players, according to Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald. Miami guards Max Strus and Gabe Vincent rode the bench, until the game was well out of reach in the fourth, to accommodate Oladipo’s return. “Big shout out to Max and Gabe, who have been playing really well,” Oladipo said after the contest. “For them to sacrifice their minutes tonight, I know that’s not easy.” Spoelstra acknowledged the roster crunch but appeared to dismiss it as being an issue for team chemistry. “That’s for amateurs,” Spoelstra said. “Guys understand the opportunity with this group. It’s not all going to be perfect. Everybody is not always going to be happy, but we have a really mature group in this locker room… We have a bunch of guys who can fit in and impact the game. Max and Gabe didn’t play much, but they can come in and do the same thing.”
  • With rookie Magic guard Jalen Suggs missing Orlando’s last two games due to a right ankle sprain, second-year guard R.J. Hampton has been tasked with bigger-ticket defensive assignments, writes Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel. The 6’4″ guard may still be struggling on offense, as he is averaging 7.3 PPG on 38.4% field goal shooting this season, but he has exhibited plenty of promise on the other side of the floor.

Eastern Notes: Kuzma, Oladipo, Morris, Bridges, Irving

The Wizards may have found something special in Kyle Kuzma, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington writes. Kuzma is having a career-best season with Washington so far, averaging 17.0 points and 8.8 rebounds in 33.5 minutes per game.

“He’s shown a steady progression where it seems like every month he’s getting better. He’s playing with more confidence,” head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said.

According to Hughes, Kuzma has averaged 21.5 points and 9.9 rebounds per game since December 22, raising his play on both ends. Washington acquired the 26-year-old in a trade involving star guard Russell Westbrook back in July.

Here are some other notes from the Eastern Conference:

  • The potential returns of Victor Oladipo and Markieff Morris offer intrigue for the Heat, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes. Oladipo hasn’t played this season, while Morris hasn’t played in over three months. Miami owns the best record in the East (40-21) despite their absences. “I just love to see everybody try to get healthy and do what they love to do, what they’ve been doing their entire life,” Jimmy Butler said of the duo. “The fact that they’ve been out for a little bit, but still are coming in smiling and working, I think that’s the most important thing. Yeah, they want to get back. Yeah, we want them back. But in due time, they will be back and we’ll be even better.”
  • Hornets forward Miles Bridges likely would’ve accepted the team’s $60MM extension offer last fall if it wasn’t for his agents, as relayed by Rohan Nadkarni of Sports Illustrated. Bridges, who is averaging 19.9 points and 7.3 rebounds per game this season, will likely be in line for a far more lucrative contract as a restricted free agent. “If it wasn’t for them I probably would’ve taken the deal,” Bridges said of his agents. “They got more confidence in me than I have sometimes.”
  • New York City will lift its “Key2NYC” vaccine mandate on March 7, but the private sector mandate still restricts Nets star Kyrie Irving from playing in home games, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. The private sector mandate could be dropped eventually, but for now, Irving still can’t play in New York.

Southeast Notes: LaMelo, Young, Heat, Kuzma

The Hornets find themselves armed with a freshly-minted All-Star in point guard LaMelo Ball and a 2022 Most Improved Player candidate in forward Miles Bridges. Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer wonders if the club will be able to maximize Ball while he remains in his prime.

Fowler is skeptical of that happening this season at least. The 29-31 club has lost nine of its last ten contests, due in part to the absence of small forward Gordon Hayward and a few other key players. Fowler notes that the shorthanded Hornets are struggling to close out games.

“The way we are right now, we’re in a place of confusion a little bit at times during the game,” forward Kelly Oubre reflected following the team’s seventh straight home loss. “More veteran teams come in and capitalize on that.”

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • In an interview with Dotun Akintoye of ESPN, Hawks All-Star point guard Trae Young discussed his rise through his college run at Oklahoma to the ranks of the NBA’s best. Head coach Nate McMillan praised Young. “I think he has a special talent that we haven’t really seen at that position, his ability to score, as well as facilitate,” McMillan said.
  • The Heat could benefit from the addition of another stretch four to help space the floor and draw opposing big men away from the basket, writes Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Winderman cautions that the buyout market is currently somewhat barren. 36-year-old starting power forward P.J. Tucker fulfills that role at present, though given his advanced NBA age, is only playing 28.6 MPG. The 6’5″ veteran is connecting on 45% of his 3.1 three-point attempts per game.
  • The Wizards‘ front office may want to make power forward Kyle Kuzma, who is thriving in the first year of a reasonable three-season, $39MM contract, part of the team’s long-term future, opines Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Kuzma has a player option for the 2023/24 season, but if he keeps up this output, Robbins anticipates that the forward will opt out to test the free agent market in 2023. The 26-year-old is averaging 16.3 PPG, 8.8 RPG and 3.1 APG on .452/.334/.703 shooting splits this season.

Southeast Notes: Hampton, Kuzma, Porzingis, Capela

R.J. Hampton is showing progress from the MCL sprain that has sidelined the Magic guard since January 19th, Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel writes.

Hampton said in an Instagram post he’ll be back to action soon, though he still has to ramp up his activity, according to coach Jamahl Mosley. Hampton. a 2020 first-round pick, has averaged 7.2 PPG and 2.4 APG in 42 appearances this season.

“He’s on the court doing a little bit of contact with our coaches, going through some rehab work and continuing to see how he responds to it,” Mosley said. “He’s slowly going against coaches right now and some conditioning as well.”
We have more from the Southeast Division:
  • Though Bradley Beal is sidelined, the Wizards have been playing better since the trade deadline, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington notes. Kyle Kuzma believes players are settling into roles now that the fear of getting traded has passed. “I think we’re great chemistry-wise,” he said. “I think we’ve got a pretty good understanding of roles right now on the team. Everybody’s gelling, fitting in. Everybody’s just doing what they’re supposed to do.”
  • Kristaps PorzingisWizards debut is likely to happen next Friday (February 25) against San Antonio, Hughes tweets. “I anticipate he will, but once again we’ll just have to see,” coach Wes Unseld Jr. said of Porzingis, who was acquired from Dallas at the trade deadline.
  • The Hawks are 10th in the East and below .500 after making it to the Eastern Conference Finals last season. Center Clint Capela said to Chris Kirschner of The Athletic it’s a product of unexpected success for a young team. “Our approach the entire season, we were already thinking we were going to the playoffs,” Capela said. “Our approach wasn’t about the next game; it was, ‘Oh, we won this. We won that.’ That’s the problem with teams that are not used to this. I’m not so shocked.”

Trade Rumors: Mavs, R. Lopez, Hawks, Wizards, Pistons, More

The Mavericks have made Dwight Powell available, but they remain uninterested in moving Jalen Brunson or Dorian Finney-Smith, reports Matt Moore of If those two players are off the table, Dallas may have a hard time finding a deal that significantly upgrades its roster.

According to Moore, Tim Hardaway Jr., who is out indefinitely due to a foot injury, is the player the Mavericks have shopped most aggressively. Hardaway was having a down year prior to his injury and is on a sizable long-term contract ($53.7MM for three years after this season), so his value will be limited.

Still, Moore notes that Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle is a big fan of Hardaway, whom he coached in Dallas. Moore has also heard that the Wizards and Mavericks discussed a deal involving Hardaway and Spencer Dinwiddie, though a source tells Moore that the two sides didn’t make much progress.

Here are a few more trade rumors from around the NBA:

  • The Magic have been willing to discuss center Robin Lopez, but are apparently asking for a first-round pick, according to Moore. I’d be surprised if a team is willing to meet that price.
  • The Hawks may have a quiet deadline, with John Collins appearing increasingly unlikely to be dealt, but they remain on the lookout for a backup point guard, Moore reports.
  • Within his trade-rumor roundup, Moore also says the Wizards have been willing to discuss anyone besides Bradley Beal or Kyle Kuzma, and adds that Pistons guard Cory Joseph is “gettable.” Moore has received mixed intel on whether Detroit is interested in moving Kelly Olynyk.
  • Pacers center Myles Turner appears less likely to be dealt now that the team has moved Domantas Sabonis, but the Knicks continue to pursue Turner, a league source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post. The big man is dealing with a foot injury that may sideline him until at least March.
  • With Harrison Barnes looking like a good bet to stay with the Kings through the deadline, Richaun Holmes and Marvin Bagley III are the Sacramento players most often identified by rival teams as candidates to be moved in the next few hours, says Sam Amick of The Athletic.

Wizards Notes: Kuzma, Beal, Gafford, Trade Deadline

After Miami thumped the Wizards 121-100 on Monday, forward Kyle Kuzma questioned the team’s mental fortitude, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. The Wizards have lost eight of their last nine with the trade deadline approaching.

“It’s really tough when you get punched in the face and you don’t stand up,” Kuzma said. “I think that kind of just sums up what’s kind of been going on. As soon as we hit a little bit of adversity, it’s quite a challenge to get out of that. … In order to be a winning team, you have to be a lot mentally stronger than that. It’s something that we’ve lacked.”

We have more on the Wizards:

  • Bradley Beal and his agent, Mark Bartelstein, met with Wizards management on Monday, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington reports. The Wizards are getting closer to the realization that Beal could opt out this summer and become an unrestricted free agent, according to Hughes. That might motivate them to make a deal this week. Beal has missed the last four games with a wrist injury.
  • Daniel Gafford entered the league’s health and safety protocols on Sunday. Coach Wes Unseld Jr. provided more details on Monday, saying that Gafford is exhibiting symptoms and tested positive twice on Sunday, Hughes tweets.
  • With plenty of rumors surrounding the team, Robbins runs through a variety of trade scenarios, examining a hypothetical Beal trade with the Sixers and considering what the Wizards would have to give up for Domantas Sabonis.
  • In case you missed it, we looked at the team’s trade deadline goals and top trade candidates in our Southeast Division trade deadline preview.

Wizards Notes: Beal, Kuzma, Collapse, Sabonis

The Wizards blew a 35-point lead against the Clippers on Tuesday, suffering a humiliating 116-115 defeat, raising questions about Washington’s direction, according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Wizards guard Bradley Beal said it should’ve been an easy win, but that’s not how the game transpired.

It just should have been a game where starters get their rest, plain and simple, right?” Beal said afterward. “That’s what type of game it should have been, and we didn’t. And Coach (Wes Unseld) kept saying, ‘Stay locked in. Stay locked in. Keep pushing.’ But for whatever reason, we relax, like we can just flip on a switch and be great.”

Beal should be held culpable too, Robbins writes. He was on the court for the majority of the fourth quarter in which the Wizards were outscored 40-22, and only half-heartedly attempted to foul Justise Winslow, a poor free throw shooter, who Unseld had instructed the team to foul in the closing seconds. Making matters worse, Beal proceeded to commit a cardinal basketball sin by weakly fouling Luke Kennard on a three-pointer with 1.9 seconds left while Washington was clinging to a 115-112 lead. Kennard made the three and sank the free throw, clinching the victory for the Clips.

After a 10-3 start to the season, the Wizards have gone 13-22 since, now holding a 23-25 record, 10th in the East. Forward Kyle Kuzma thinks “somethin’ got to change.” After the game, Kuzma was asked whether he agreed with Unseld that the team stopped competing after building the large lead, per Robbins.

Everybody stopped,” Kuzma said. “It felt like defensively we didn’t do anything. We’ve got to do a better job of reading the room from the bench as well. It’s a team loss. Everybody lost tonight.”

Here’s more on the Wizards:

  • Beal recently joined Adrian Wojnarowski’s “The Woj Pod” on ESPN (hat tip to RealGM). Beal knows the Wizards need to improve to be competitive long-term, but he likes being the centerpiece of the franchise. “Honestly, realizing that a franchise is willing to build around you. It’s not always like that everywhere. Like, if I go somewhere else, they’re just not going to build around you. They’ll build around what they have,” Beal said. “There’s nothing absolutely nothing wrong with that, but if I have the chance to create my own legacy and make it work here with the team that drafted me, then why not give it a shot? It it works, it works, If it doesn’t, I can say ‘At least I tried.’ That’s just who I am. That’s my blessing and curse, my loyalty. We’re transitioning, we’re going in the right direction, but we still have a lot of improvements to make.”
  • Robbins and Bob Kravitz of The Athletic explore what it might type of trade package it might take for the Wizards to acquire Pacers All-Star Domantas Sabonis. Pacers owner Herb Simon says he’s disinterested in a full-fledged rebuild, so draft picks might not do the trick — in any case, the 2023 first-rounder Washington owes to Oklahoma City is protected through 2026, so any future first-round pick the team offers would have to be conditional. Kravitz says if he were Indiana’s GM, he’d want Rui Hachimura, Deni Avdija, and Corey Kispert, Washington’s three most recent first-round picks, in exchange for Sabonis.
  • Keep track of all of the latest notes and rumors from Washington on our Wizards team page.

COVID/Injury Notes: Batum, Hawks, J. Murray, Celtics, More

Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue told reporters, including Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link), that forward Nicolas Batum will be available Friday night at Philadelphia. Batum had been placed in the health and safety protocols as a result of an inconclusive test, missing Wednesday’s 130-128 overtime loss at Denver, but obviously has been cleared by testing negative twice since.

Here are more COVID-19 and injury-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Hawks head coach Nate McMillan told reporters, including Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (via Twitter), that starting center Clint Capela will return to action Friday night against Miami, but will be on a minutes restriction. Capela had missed Atlanta’s last six games with an ankle injury and the team went 2-4 in his absence. Spencer also tweets that the Hawks will be without Bogdan Bogdanovic (knee) and Danilo Gallinari (sore Achilles), while Gorgui Dieng will be available (non-COVID illness).
  • Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, who’s still rehabbing from a torn ACL suffered last April, has entered the health and safety protocols, Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports tweets.
  • Celtics head coach Ime Udoka told reporters that Marcus Smart and Aaron Nesmith will miss Friday’s game vs. Portland, per ESPN’s Tim Bontemps (Twitter link). Smart is still ramping up his conditioning after battling COVID-19, while Nesmith is dealing with a sprained ankle.
  • Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma is out Friday vs. Toronto with a sprained neck, per Marc J. Spears of the Undefeated (via Twitter). Kuzma is having a solid first season with Washington, averaging 15.7 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 43 games, all starts.
  • Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley and top assistant coach Nate Tibbetts have both cleared the protocols and will be coaching Friday’s game against the Lakers, Orlando’s PR department tweets.
  • Grizzlies forward Killian Tillie has been upgraded from questionable to available for Friday’s game at Denver, so he has cleared the health and safety protocols, Memphis’ PR department tweets.

Southeast Notes: Reddish, Knox, Suggs, Kuzma

The reduced role that Cam Reddish had with the Hawks before being traded to New York came about because he expressed a desire to be dealt over the offseason, head coach Nate McMillan told reporters, including Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link), before tonight’s game. Even though the team was beset by injuries and players in the league’s health and safety protocols, Reddish averaged a career-low 23.4 minutes per night in 34 games.

“This year, he made the decision during the summer that he wanted to go elsewhere and play somewhere else,” McMillan said. “So it was tough. It was tough for him to come in and he was a professional. He was a pro. He didn’t do anything through the media, he came in, he tried to work.

“A lot of you guys were asking why he wasn’t in the rotation or why we weren’t doing certain things, and it was we knew that this was something that wasn’t going to, he wasn’t probably going to end the season with us. Unfortunate. I think he has a lot of talent, great kid, and I wish him well. We had a conversation when it happened and he’s looking forward to the opportunity.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Kevin Knox, who was part of the Hawks‘ return for Reddish, has passed his physical and is eligible to play in tonight’s game against the Knicks, Spencer tweets.
  • Rookie guard Jalen Suggs returned to the Magic’s lineup Friday night for the first time since fracturing his right thumb on November 29, per Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel. Suggs, who got off to a slow start, called the injury “a blessing in disguise” after putting up 12 points, six rebounds and seven assists in a win at Charlotte. “It gave me time to sit back and reevaluate the things I was doing, the habits I had, change those to better ones and grow. I needed that,” Suggs said.
  • Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma is firmly entrenched as a starter in Washington after coming off the bench for the Lakers the past two seasons, notes Jackson Filyo of Kuzma, who narrowly missed his first career triple-double this week, said he benefited from the lessons he learned in L.A. “I credit a lot of my success this season to the last two years, taking a seat and watching some great players play basketball and learning from them,” Kuzma said. “I just knew once I got traded, it was a golden opportunity for me to enhance my game and show everything I’ve learned and what I’m capable of with opportunity. I’m just showing that right now.”