As expected, Kyle Kuzma declines $13 million player option, here are three potential landing spots
One thing was always clear: Kyle Kuzma always was going to opt out of the $13 million he was owed next season because a bigger payday and the security of more years were waiting this July.
Tuesday Kuzma did as expected and told the Wizards he would opt out. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN broke the news.
ESPN Sources: As expected, Washington Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma has declined his $13 million player option and become a free agent. Kuzma will be one of the marketplace’s most prominent players. A return to Washington on a new deal remains a possibility.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 20, 2023
Kuzma averaged 21.2 points, shooting 33.3% from 3, plus grabbing 7.2 rebounds and dishing out 3.7 assists a game last season.
While Kuzma’s intentions were always clear, how much money was out there in the marketplace who might pay him that dollars are a little more cloudy. Here are three teams that are potential landing spots.
1. Washington Wizards. This is the most likely outcome. The Wizards clearly are heading toward a rebuilding phase after agreeing to trade Bradley Beal, but with that they would prefer to re-sign Kuzma to a fair contract — $20 million a season, give or take — and then trade him later when they can get picks or a young player to help that rebuilding process. If Beal wants to sign with a contender or just a quality playoff team and not a rebuilding team with cap space, this is his best path (most of the teams with money to spend this summer are in various stages of rebuilding themselves).
2. Houston Rockets. The Rockets want to start winning and have money to spend (nearly $60 million in cap space). Kuzma could be the kind of free agent they chase to help round out their roster (especially if the latest reports of James Harden re-signing in Philadelphia turn out to be true). Houston is expected to at least have conversations with a number of top free agents this summer, and Kuzma is going to be on this list.
3. Indiana Pacers. The Pacers are in the market for a floor-spacing forward, something Marc Stein wrote about in a recent newsletter at Substack. Stein notes that Harrison Barnes, most recently of Sacramento, is at the top of their list. However, Kuzma makes sense as a fallback, and the Pacers have the cap space to pay him in the low $20 million a season range. It is a contract that could work for both teams.
There will be other suitors for Kuzma as well, he will have options. Whatever he chooses, he made the right move by opting out of this contract, the main is about to get paid. Which should cover the cost of a few more interesting pregame fits to wear to the arena.