Kyle Kuzma’s new contract gives the Washington Wizards a huge trade asset

Kyle Kuzma of the Washington Wizards shoots the ball against the Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Kyle Kuzma of the Washington Wizards shoots the ball against the Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

The Washington Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma signed a four-year, $102 million contract to remain with the team. The $25.5 million annual salary for Kuzma is not only a fair contract for the 27-year-old, but it’s also a great potential trade piece for the Wizards going forward.

Kuzma, who became an unrestricted free agent after declining his $13 million player option for the 2023-24 season, was one of the best free agents on the market this offseason. The fact that he is still young, entering his prime, and coming off a career season made him an attractive free-agent target for many teams around the league. Retaining a solid two-way wing for a fair, movable multi-year contract is a win for the Washington Wizards.

The salary cap is rising and salaries for starter-level players are in the $20 million range now. Looking at the contracts Jerami Grant, Fred VanVleet, and Bruce Brown got in free agency makes the Kuzma contract look fair and reasonable. The Wizards would have ideally preferred to keep the annual salary under $25 million for Kuzma, but considering Washington’s clean salary books going forward, Kuzma’s deal should not hamstring them financially.

Most importantly, if Kuzma plays the way he did in the 2022-23 season next year, he should be a prime trade candidate for a playoff team. Wings with size who can score and defend well don’t get on the trade block very often. The scarcity of Kuzma’s skill set bodes well for his trade value over the next few years.

There is even a chance Kuzma plays even better next season, scoring in higher volume and efficiency, and improving his playmaking and defense. In that scenario, the Wizards could get an even larger return for Kuzma in a potential trade.

When the Wizards and Kuzma agreed on this contract, there was presumably a mutual understanding that he could be traded during the length of his contract. This created a win-win situation for both sides: Kuzma getting paid, and Washington getting a valuable trade chip.

If Kuzma wants to stick around and become a leader for this young team for a long time, great. However, the sweet spot for both sides in this relationship may be for Kuzma to contribute and be a steady hand for the rebuilding Wizards for a year or two, then get traded to a contender where he can try to win another ring.

Regardless of how long it lasts, it’s great to have Kuzma back and have him build a dynamic scoring duo with Jordan Poole. It’s a new era in Washington but it will be exciting to have a familiar face like Kyle Kuzma still around.

Next. 5 moves the Wizards should make after retaining Kuzma. dark