The trade season is upon us. Until the February 7 trade deadline, there will be endless rumors, reports, and ideas for trades across the NBA. The Washington Wizards are certainly not exempt from this. There will be plenty of interest in the Wizards' veterans, with the most in-demand player being Kyle Kuzma.
Kuzma is in the midst of a career season. Averaging career-highs in points and assists per game, as well as field-goal percentage, Kuzma has thrived in his role as a team leader and a primary option in Washington. Yet, his best role is likely more as a role player and a secondary creator on a good team. His size, all-around game, and positional scarcity as a combo forward make him an excellent fit for playoff teams. At age 28 with a reasonable, team-friendly contract, he will be one of the most sought-after targets on the trade market.
One of the teams that could certainly use Kuzma's services is the Indiana Pacers. With a glaring hole at the power forward position and a lack of two-way players, the Pacers desperately need a player of Kuzma's profile. A potential three-team trade that could help Indiana land Kuzma could look like this:
The Pacers get their starting forward in Kuzma by giving up a first-round pick, young center Isaiah Jackson, and sharpshooter Buddy Hield. Jackson is a promising big man and Hield is a valuable shooting guard, but this move makes the Pacers a more balanced and dangerous team.
The Orlando Magic, who desperately need more shooting and scoring from the perimeter, add Buddy Hield in exchange for Jonathan Isaac. Hield is older and will require a new contract once his deal expires in the offseason, but he is an excellent fit next to Orlando's two young stars Franz Wagner and Paolo Banchero.
The Wizards, on the other hand, get Jonathan Isaac, Isaiah Jackson, and Indiana's 2028 first-rounder. Despite his career being derailed by injuries, Isaac is still an intriguing talent. He is still a very good defender and if he manages to stay healthy for an extended period, he could be a valuable forward for Washington for a long time. Jackson also bolsters the center rotation with his rebounding and shot blocking, two skills the Wizards badly need.
There is certainly a benefit to keeping Kuzma around. He is the heart and soul of this team and has been a great leader. However, he is also the most valuable player on the Wizards. His trade value may never be higher than it is now. It is therefore understandable if the front office wants to trade him now for maximum return. It's not clear which way the front office is leaning but we will have our answer in the next month or so.
Final trade grade: B+