Kyle Kuzma

Wizards Notes: Avdija, Porzingis, Kuzma, Dinwiddie

The Wizards‘ decision to trade Rui Hachimura this week was partly motivated by a desire to create a larger role for Deni Avdija, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Avdija was a lottery pick in 2020, and Hughes notes that his importance to the team is greater than ever now that Hachimura is gone.

“When we really looked at what we needed was to get Deni more responsibility, more opportunity to play,” general manager Tommy Sheppard explained in an interview with NBC (Twitter link).

Avdija has started 30 of the 45 games he has played this season, but his numbers aren’t spectacular at 8.1 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists per night. Hughes suggests that Avdija may handle the ball more often with Hachimura gone, and he might see more time at power forward than small forward, which could be beneficial given his 27.5% shooting percentage from three-point range. Hughes notes that Avdija attempted just one three-pointer in Tuesday’s win at Dallas, but attacked the basket more frequently and shot a career-high 11 free throws.

There’s more on the Wizards:

  • The ankle injury that has Kristaps Porzingis out of action for at least the next two weeks comes at a crucial point of the season for the Wizards, Hughes states in a separate story. Porzingis is unlikely to play again before the February 9 trade deadline, and the team is running out of time to determine whether the current roster is good enough to earn a spot in the play-in tournament.
  • With free agency and the trade deadline both looming, Kyle Kuzma‘s future in Washington is uncertain, but he says in an interview with Josh Robbins of The Athletic that he’d gladly re-sign with the team this summer if he gets the right offer. “They showed me love,” Kuzma said of the Wizards. “They have allowed me to have a platform to show my game and show the league I’m not just a role player. I’m someone that’s arriving right now. That’s the biggest thing for me.”
  • Mavericks guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who was notably unhappy with the locker room chemistry during his time with the Wizards, took a shot at his former team after Wednesday’s game. “For them, it’s a showcase,” Dinwiddie told Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter link). “They’re over there trying to get paid, not trying to play winning basketball. For a team that has real aspirations and has an MVP, went to the conference finals last year, we have to be better to a man.” Kuzma took to social media to answer Dinwiddie’s claim after the Wizards narrowly beat the Mavs, tweeting, “The funny thing is they don’t play winning basketball.”

Wizards Rumors: Kuzma, Porzingis, Carey, Barton, Hachimura

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.

Wizards Trade Rui Hachimura To Lakers

5:23pm: The Lakers have officially announced the addition of Hachimura in a press statement.


12:15pm: The agreement has been finalized, Wojnarowski tweets. The Wizards will receive the Bulls’ second-round pick this year, the Lakers’ second-rounder in 2029 and the least favorable of the Wizards’ and Lakers’ second-rounders in 2028.

The Lakers had acquired the Wizards’ 2028 second-round pick in a prior trade.


11:42am: The Lakers are in advanced talks to acquire Rui Hachimura from the Wizards, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The price will be guard Kendrick Nunn and multiple second-round picks, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports reports that L.A. offered Nunn and two second-rounders to Washington on Friday, but the Wizards turned it down in hopes of getting a first-round pick for Hachimura, who was drafted ninth overall in 2019 (Twitter link). An agreement was reached Monday when the Lakers added another second-rounder to their offer.

The trade is expected to be finalized this afternoon, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Specifics on the picks involved haven’t been released, but Bobby Marks of ESPN points out (via Twitter) that L.A. has seven second-rounders available, including its own and Chicago’s in this year’s draft.

Hachimura never developed into a star in Washington, but the 24-year-old forward has been a solid rotation player throughout his entire time with the Wizards. In 30 games this season, all as a reserve, he’s averaging 13.0 points and 4.3 rebounds while shooting 48.8% from the field and 33.7% from three-point range.

The Wizards didn’t sign Hachimura to a rookie scale extension before the October deadline, so he’ll be a free agent this summer. The Lakers can make him restricted, giving them the right to match any offer he receives, by issuing a qualifying offer likely to be worth about $7.74MM.

Basketball reporter Marc Stein hears that Washington was willing to part with Hachimura because of increased confidence that the team will be able to re-sign Kyle Kuzma in free agency after he turns down his player option (Twitter link).

After signing with the Lakers as a free agent in 2021, Nunn missed his entire first season due to a knee injury. He has appeared in 39 games this year, making two starts, and is averaging 6.7 PPG in 13.5 minutes per night. The 27-year-old will be an unrestricted free agent in July.

Southeast Notes: Kuzma, Fultz, Lowry, Thor

Kyle Kuzma has been a hot name on the trade market, though the latest reports have indicated that the Wizards would prefer to keep him through the deadline in an attempt to re-sign him in free agency. The 27-year-old forward says he loves playing with Kristaps Porzingis and Bradley Beal, and that will factor into his decision this summer.

It plays into it a lot,” Kuzma told Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter video link). “I love playing with those guys. I see how easy it is for me, but this is something I’m not really thinking about right now. I’m so far away from it.”

Here’s more from the Southeast:

  • Markelle Fultz has made a major impact on the defensive end since he made his season debut at the end of November, writes Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel (subscriber link). “Just playing hard man,” he said. “Just giving all my effort while I’m on the court. Whether that’s ball pressure or trying to dive on the floor for a loose ball, I’m just trying to find any little way to give our team an advantage.” Fultz is averaging a career-high 1.7 steals per contest, per Price, who notes that the 24-year-old doesn’t gamble much while playing disruptive defense. The Magic have gone 12-12 in games Fultz has played and 5-16 without him.
  • Heat point guard Kyle Lowry recently returned from a four-game absence due to knee soreness. He says it’s been bothering him for a while, but hopes resting it resolved the issue, according to Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. “It was good to just get myself right,” said Lowry. “My knee has been a little bit bothering me for a while. So it was good to get back. …I feel good. I feel pretty good right now and hopefully it doesn’t re-occur, and we just kind of build on that. You keep the body right and keep the mind sharp.”
  • Hornets coach Steve Clifford is a fan of JT Thor‘s team-first mentality and defense, but he admits his rotations have the second-year forward in an unenviable position, as Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer relays. “The guy to be honest with you, who to a certain degree is getting screwed, is JT Thor,” Clifford said. “I’m subbing him in a way — and he knows it and his teammates know it — just so we can keep more balanced lineups on the floor. He’s playing four minutes sometimes, three minutes sometimes. You can’t possibly be productive offensively with those minutes. He gets the minutes, but the way they are broken up, there’s no way. When I told him that, he said, ‘Hey, I know this isn’t about me.’ So, that’s why he has a chance to be a good player.”

Southeast Notes: Kuzma, Wizards, Hornets, Lowry

Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma probably won’t be an All-Star for the first time in 2022/23, but he’s at least on the list of players worth considering, and that’s a sign of progress. The 27-year-old was seventh in fan voting among frontcourt players last week when the NBA released it’s second update, writes Ava Wallace of The Washington Post.

To become an All-Star, you’ve got to win,” Kuzma said. “If you’re the 14th seed in the East and you’re killing, you’re not going to be an All-Star unless you’re an all-time great. So it’s a blessing, but I’m just working my way up.”

Kuzma, who plans to be come a free agent in the offseason, says he’s still adjusting to being a focal point of Washington’s offense with Bradley Beal sidelined for most of the past six weeks. The star guard has only appeared in six games since December 4, but he’ll be back in action on Wednesday.

This is all new for me. This is the first time in my career I really am having a role [with] this high of a usage, so I’m learning on the fly — I’m learning pretty fast, too,” Kuzma said, per Wallace. ” … I played with some great players, so watching them, understanding how teams guarded them, I’m kind of seeing those things now — especially when we have guys hurt.”

Here’s more from the Southeast:

  • At 18-26, the Wizards have had a disappointing season, and they have some important decisions to make ahead of the February 9 trade deadline, according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic, who breaks down the questions the team needs to answer in his deadline primer. The most pressing question is, can the team be successful in its effort to build around Beal? Is it even a viable strategy at this point? It’s worth noting that Robbins’ guide was released prior to his report with Shams Charania stating that the Wizards are discussing trades involving forward Rui Hachimura, who is set to his restricted free agency in the summer, which signals that they might be confident in their ability to re-sign Kuzma in the offseason.
  • Scott Fowler of The Charlotte Observer believes the Hornets should focus on playing their younger players instead of veterans, as “losses don’t hurt anything except their pride.” Coach Steve Clifford had a thorough answer to Fowler’s question regarding the balance of trying to be competitive and playing the youngsters, but the gist is that he believes players should develop by earning their minutes in practice, and some of them haven’t. At 11-34, the Hornets currently sit in last place in the East, and are only one win ahead of the Rockets for the worst record in the NBA.
  • Point guard Kyle Lowry will return to the Heat‘s starting lineup on Wednesday at New Orleans, per Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. The 36-year-old veteran had missed the team’s previous four games with left knee discomfort. It will mark the first time in two weeks — and just the 15th time this season — that the opening night starting lineup of Lowry, Tyler Herro, Jimmy Butler, Caleb Martin and Bam Adebayo has played together, Winderman adds. The Heat have been hit hard by injuries throughout the ’22/23 season.

Wizards Discussing Potential Rui Hachimura Trades

The Wizards have engaged in trade discusions with multiple teams about potential deals that would include forward Rui Hachimura, according to Shams Charania and Josh Robbins of The Athletic.

While Charania and Robbins don’t offer specifics on which teams have talked to Washington about Hachimura, The Athletic’s duo says the 24-year-old has drawn interest from “several Western Conference teams in need of scoring.” The Suns are one team that fits that bill and have been previously linked to Hachimura.

Another Wizards forward, Kyle Kuzma, continues to generate interest around the league, but Washington values him highly and would like to hang onto him, per Charania and Robbins.

Kuzma, Hachimura, and Kristaps Porzingis are all eligible for free agency during the 2023 offseason, so if the Wizards were to trade Hachimura, it would put them in a better position to focus on bringing back the other two. It may also signal a level of confidence in their ability to re-sign Kuzma, The Athletic’s reporters note, since trading Hachimura and then losing Kuzma in free agency would significantly deplete the club’s forward depth.

The ninth overall pick in the 2019 draft, Hachimura has missed some time due to injury this season, but has played well when available, averaging 12.9 PPG and 4.4 RPG on .492/.346/.768 shooting in 28 games (24.2 MPG). He’s earning approximately $6.26MM this season and will become a restricted free agent in July, assuming his team issues a qualifying offer that will likely be worth about $7.74MM.

Southeast Notes: Bol, Kuzma, Hornets, Capela

Bol Bol is enjoying a breakout season with the Magic after three frustrating years in Denver and he accepts the blame for things not working out better with the Nuggets, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Bol was a second-round pick in 2019 and was acquired by Denver in a draft-night trade. Even though the organization was excited about his combination of size and skill, he only appeared in 53 total games before being traded last January.

“Yeah, I can say there was a little bit, I feel I could’ve worked a lot harder,” Bol said. “That was just me being young. That’s one of the things I learned, you have to work hard or (stuff’s) not gonna work out for you.”

Bol was dealt twice prior to last year’s deadline and ended up with a rebuilding Orlando team that gave him a better opportunity to develop. He wasn’t able to play for the Magic last season because of injuries, but he has generated Most Improved Player talk this year, averaging 11.9 points and 6.9 rebounds in 39 games.

“New space, new opportunity for me,” Bol explained. “A younger team. It wasn’t like (Denver), where it was kind of hard for me to play because they were already a really good team, an established team, a playoff team. Now, I’m just getting a restart.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • In an interview with Ava Wallace of The Washington Post, Kyle Kuzma says he’s willing to consider re-signing with the Wizards when he becomes a free agent this summer. “Yeah, 100 percent, for sure,” Kuzma responded. “For me, it’s all about my growth and how I can improve. That’s the thing I’m always chasing — trying to get better.” There has been speculation that Kuzma will be looking for a change of scenery once he declines his $13MM player option for next season.
  • Mental mistakes have played a role in the Hornets‘ collapse into the worst team in the East, per Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. The roster is similar to the one that reached the play-in tournament the past two seasons, but players are having trouble staying focused for 48 minutes. “It’s just the discipline that we lack,” Dennis Smith Jr. said. “Ever since coming into the league, I was always taught ‘game plan discipline, game plan discipline.’ So, whatever the game plan is we’ve got to follow that to a ‘T.’ We show that whenever we do that we are a capable team.”
  • Hawks center Clint Capela plans to return for Monday afternoon’s contest against the Heat after missing the past 10 games with an injured calf, tweets Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report. Capela, who has been limited to 27 games this season, will be on a minutes restriction.

Stein’s Latest: Conley, Beasley, Collins, Kuzma, Russell, Walker

The Clippers are looking for point guard help and have interest in acquiring Mike Conley from the Jazz, Marc Stein reports in his latest Substack column. After a strong start, Utah has fallen to 10th in the West at 22-24 and there’s a growing belief around the league that the team may try to sell off some of its veteran assets, according to Stein.

Conley has remained effective at age 35, averaging 10.2 points, 2.1 rebounds and 7.5 assists in 34 games while shooting 38% from the field and 34.9% from three-point range. The Clippers will be without John Wall for at least two weeks with an abdominal strain, and Reggie Jackson was recently demoted out of his starting spot. Conley is making $22.68MM this year and has a $14.32MM guarantee on his $24.36MM salary for 2023/24.

League sources tell Stein that the Clippers are also seeking another big man to back up Ivica Zubac, who is averaging a career-high 29.1 minutes per game.

Stein shares more trade rumors from around the league:

  • The Cavaliers have considered a three-way trade to acquire Malik Beasley from the Jazz and send the HawksJohn Collins to Utah. Stein reported in November that the Jazz had interest in Collins, but he states that a deal is being held up because the team is asking Atlanta for extra draft compensation for taking on Collins, who still has three full seasons remaining on his five-year, $125MM contract. Stein cites Caris LeVert, who has an $18.8MM expiring deal, as the most likely Cavalier to be involved in the rumored trade.
  • The Wizards are denying that they have interest in moving Kyle Kuzma, with sources telling Stein that the team plans to meet Kuzma’s asking price after he turns down his player option for next season. Stein states that many league executives believe Kuzma would like to move on from Washington, but he cautions that rumor may be coming from teams that are hoping to sign him.
  • Stein confirms a recent report from Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports that the Heat have expressed interest in Timberwolves guard D’Angelo Russell, who has an expiring $31.4MM contract. However, the Wolves would likely have to take back Kyle Lowry unless another team can be added to the trade, and Minnesota doesn’t want to take on Lowry’s contract.
  • Kemba Walker, who was waived by the Mavericks prior to the leaguewide salary guarantee date, is focused on finding another NBA opportunity. Stein says a weekend report in Italy that Walker was close to signing with Olimpia Milano was mistaken.

Fischer’s Latest: Jazz, Suns, McDaniels, Sixers, Holmes

League personnel expect the Jazz to become a seller ahead of the February 9 trade deadline, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, who reports that Utah has received a lot of interest in Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt. The Jazz are looking for a first-round pick in exchange for either player, sources tell Fischer.

A couple weeks ago, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported about three-team trade talks between the Jazz, Suns and Hawks that involved Beasley, Vanderbilt, John Collins and Jae Crowder. Fischer hears from sources that the Jazz and Hawks also discussed a more straightforward deal, with Beasley and Vanderbilt heading to Atlanta in exchange for Collins, but suggests that the deal may have fallen apart when Utah asked for a first-rounder as well.

Echoing a report from Marc Stein, Fischer says Jordan Clarkson “is not considered a trade candidate at this time.” The Jazz want to keep the veteran guard, but are currently limited in what they can offer him in an extension, so he is expected to hit free agency.

Here’s more from Fischer:

  • Fischer suggests that a three-team deal is the most likely pathway for Crowder to eventually be dealt from the Suns. The Bucks are known to be very interested in Crowder, with Fischer reiterating that Milwaukee has been dangling Grayson Allen to rival teams. Charania reported a couple days ago that the Suns are interested in Hornets forward Jalen McDaniels, but sources tell Fischer that the fourth-year forward is a favorite of GM Mitch Kupchak, so Allen and second-round picks is unlikely to be enough for Charlotte.
  • Rival teams have gotten the impression that the Suns are looking for another ball-handler at guard, potentially a long-term replacement for point guard Chris Paul, Fischer adds.
  • Like Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, Fischer says the Wizards aren’t currently open to trading Kyle Kuzma, as the team hopes to re-sign him in free agency.
  • Unsurprisingly, Fischer writes that the Sixers will be actively looking for roster upgrades ahead of a playoff push. However, if that doesn’t come to fruition, Fischer suggests Philadelphia might dump a smaller salary to dip below the luxury tax threshold, pointing to Furkan Korkmaz, Matisse Thybulle and Jaden Springer as potential contracts that could be moved.
  • Kings backup center Richaun Holmes is available on the trade market, sources tell Fischer. The 29-year-old is in the second year of a four-year, $46MM deal, but has fallen out of Sacramento’s rotation under new head coach Mike Brown, averaging just 2.7 PPG and 2.0 RPG in 26 games (9.0 MPG). He averaged 14.2 PPG, 8.3 RPG and 1.6 BPG in 2020/21, so it’s possible a rival team might view him as a bounce-back candidate, but there’s no question that his value has declined.

Cavs Rumors: Bey, Hayward, Love, Ross, Possible Targets

After discussing several possible Cavaliers trade targets on Jake Fischer’s podcast last week, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com expanded on the club’s hunt for a wing in a subscriber-only story on Tuesday, taking a closer look at why Mavericks swingman Tim Hardaway Jr. appeals to Cleveland, why the club is reluctant to part with former lottery pick Isaac Okoro, and much more.

Here are a few highlights from Fedor’s story:

  • Pistons forward Saddiq Bey “has some fans” in Cleveland, but there’s still a gap between how the Cavaliers and Pistons value him, writes Fedor, noting that Detroit’s asking price would have to come down significantly for Bey to be a realistic target for the Cavs. That line of thinking applies to a number of other possible trade candidates on the market, including Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma.
  • Although Gordon Hayward‘s skill set makes the Hornets forward a logical target for the Cavaliers, his $30MM salary makes him a long shot for Cleveland. Kevin Love ($28.9MM) would likely have to be included in a deal for Hayward, and trading Love isn’t a possibility the team has internally considered, according to Fedor, who has previously reported that there’s mutual interest between the Cavs and Love in continuing their relationship beyond this season.
  • If the Cavaliers liked Magic wing Terrence Ross, they could have acquired him “multiple times” in the past, Fedor writes, implying that the asking price was one Cleveland could have easily met. Fedor said on Fischer’s podcast last week that the Cavs don’t have much interest in Ross.
  • Fedor identifies Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith and Spurs veterans Doug McDermott and Josh Richardson as players worth monitoring in Cleveland’s search for wing help. He adds that the Cavs would have interest in Timberwolves forward Kyle Anderson and Rockets forward Jae’Sean Tate, but there’s no indication that either player will be available at this season’s trade deadline.