Grade the trade: Kyle Kuzma returns to Lakers in this proposed three-team deal

Meg Oliphant/GettyImages

Now that we are past the December 15 deadline when players who signed contracts in the offseason became eligible to be traded, the trade season is officially here. With that, the rumor mill started working over time as well. The Washington Wizards, who are widely expected to be active at the trade deadline, will have to field plenty of calls for their veteran players. The player who will attract the most interested parties is certainly Kyle Kuzma.

The 28-year-old Kuzma is having the best season of his career with career-high efficiency despite a career-high usage rate. He is averaging more points and assists per game than ever while hitting a higher percentage of his shots from all over the court. His all-around skill set combined with his size, age, and team-friendly contract makes him an intriguing option for plenty of teams around the NBA.

One of these teams is his former team the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers are looking for upgrades to their roster as Lebron James is looking for his fifth ring. Kuzma isn't only an excellent fit for the Lakers, but he also knows the team and the organization since he won a championship with them in 2020. Now, Kuzma is an even better basketball player who can slide into the starting frontcourt with James and Anthony Davis.

The matching salary in a potential Kuzma-to-Lakers trade would presumably be D'Angelo Russell. However, since Russell isn't the cleanest fit on the Wizards, a three-team trade could make sense. The Detroit Pistons could help facilitate the deal by taking on Russell, who brings a level of shooting and playmaking that they desperately need.

This scenario could look like this:

kuzma lakers trade

The Lakers add Kuzma by only giving up Russell, Taurean Prince, and two second-round picks. They immediately become a much better defensive team without sacrificing much offensively.

The Pistons bring in two competent veterans. Russell can start next to Cade Cunningham and take on the point guard duties, while Prince takes on a valuable 3-and-D role.

The Wizards, on the other hand, add three intriguing, young players. James Wiseman, who started playing better over the last two weeks, is worth a flyer. He is still 22 years old and has the physical and athletic tools to be an impactful NBA center. Isaiah Stewart's development has stagnated after he had an impressive rookie campaign in the 2020-21 season. He is a great fit in Washington with his size, strength, and shooting ability. Marcus Sasser, who was the 25th overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, is an older, NBA-ready rookie. He can run pick-and-roll, shoot, and make plays for others. He is worth a look to see if he can be the point guard of the future for the Wizards.

The Wizards don't add a first-round pick in this trade, and there is a chance the front office would prioritize draft compensation in a deal for Kuzma. However, they add three intriguing young players in this scenario. Taking flyers on players with upside is a strategy worth investing in. This could be a win for all the teams involved.

Final trade grade: A-

3 Wizards who are expendable, and 2 they can’t afford to trade. dark. Next. expendable