“They showed me love” – ​​Kuzma open to long-term contract with Wizards

Kyle Kuzma said on Tuesday that he is open to a long-term contract extension with the Washington Wizards once he finds free agency.

The 27-year-old Kuzma is expected to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, having turned down his $13 million player option for the 2023-24 season.

The former 27th overall draft pick by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2017 is enjoying a career-best season with the Wizards, averaging 21.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game, and so far has featured in 45 of his 46 possible encounters.

Standing at 189, Kuzma has demonstrated the ability to defend three positions, as well as making 2.6 3-pointers per game, providing the size, versatility and floor spacing that are desperately in demand across the league.

Kuzma said he hasn’t spoken to Wizards about a potential extension, but he’s open to talking when it comes, as the franchise has allowed him to spread his wings.

“It’s probably coming,” he told The Athletic. “However, I immediately said that I love being here because I can play my game and I have grown a lot.

“It was amazing for me to take on this new role…they understand what I’m doing now. I’m trying to be better and that’s my priority.”

He added that he believes the franchise would like to keep him for longer and appreciates the feeling of being wanted after being traded to the Los Angeles Lakers for Russell Westbrook.

“It’s a source of peace because whenever someone wants you, it’s good,” he said. “You want to be wanted in this world. You don’t want to be un-wanted.

“So it’s a great feeling … as a person you love it, you feel love. You feel it and it makes you alive. It’s a great thing, especially when you think about the landscape of the sport between teams and players.

“Players leave from year to year, there are such short periods now. For anyone who wants to keep you longer, it’s a blessing.

“They showed me love. They let me have a platform to show my game and show the league that I’m not just a role-player. I’m someone who’s arriving right now – that’s the biggest thing for me.

“I want to develop. Having a leadership position, having a place where I grow and play my game and my role and get better every game – that’s what I care about.”

Thanks to his ability to leave Wizards at the end of the season, Kuzma said he’s aware he’ll be involved in trade rumors as the franchise evaluates what they could potentially get in return, but he doesn’t mind.

“I’ve been in trade talks for five of the six years of my career,” he said. “I saw it. I went through it. I understand that.

“I’ve been in trade rumors at the highest of highs year after year. So I’m numb to white noise and noise in general. I don’t get angry and I don’t bother. I’m a really calm person at this point in my life.”

He added: “I’m the only source in this world that knows what I want to do or what I’m thinking. People can think, they can say I might want to go out and say I want to be here or whatever, but no one really knows but me, and I don’t even know.

“I don’t get caught up in speculation and all the headlines and all that because I’ve been there. I was there and I did it. I understand what it is.”

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