Kyle Kuzma heard all the rumors.
The Lakers wing looked like he was going to pack his bags and head north up the California coast from Los Angeles to join the Sacramento Kings. The rumored deal centered around Kuzma and guard Buddy Hield — and the deal looked so far along that he started to prepare for life in Sacramento.
Then, the Wizards joined the mix at the last moment. And as it turned out, the Lakers wanted to do business with them instead.
“It was essentially a done deal, I thought I was going to (Sacramento),” Kuzma said Tuesday of the trade rumors. “That’s what I was hearing. Getting ready for that move, then at the 11th hour, the Wizards came out of nowhere in that Russ (Westbrook) deal. He wanted to get to LA and they made that happen. I was excited about going to (Sacramento), but obviously the Washington thing came up and I was ecstatic.”
Kuzma, a 6-foot-10 forward, averaged 12.9 points and 6.1 rebounds last year with the Lakers, his fourth year in the league. The rumored trade to the Kings never panned out as Kuzma was involved in the massive five-team trade that sent Westbrook to Los Angeles and brought the Wizards back six players, including two of his former Laker teammates in Montrezl Harrell and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Now, Kuzma will join a Wizards team with an established star in Bradley Beal and will be in a situation where he can carve out a bigger role for himself.
Sacramento was where Kuzma thought he was headed, but he seems mighty fine with playing in D.C.
“Having a chance to play with a superstar like Brad Beal, an organization that’s trying to win, that’s something Brad wants to do bad,” Kuzma said. “You can just see how he plays and how he carries himself. Having an opportunity to play for a team, have a big role and have a great chance of going to the playoffs, you can’t beat that.”