The Los Angeles Lakers made arguably the biggest splash of the NBA offseason earlier this summer when they acquired Russell Westbrook from the Washington Wizards in a blockbuster five-team trade.
While it’s not every day you get to acquire the NBA’s all-time triple-double leader and a former MVP, the Lakers did also give up some quality talent in return in Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell and the 22nd overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.
Even though it ultimately ended up being a complicated five-team deal involving a number of other players, the Lakers and Wizards’ side of it actually came together very quickly during the draft. In fact, leading up to the draft, every report was that the Lakers were on the verge of acquiring Buddy Hield from the Sacramento Kings in a trade that also would’ve involved Kuzma and Harrell.
The opportunity to acquire Westbrook instead then presented itself, however, and Rob Pelinka opted to go with that deal instead of the one with the Kings for Hield.
Although he’s now with the Wizards, Kuzma recently appeared on the “No Chill” Podcast with Gilbert Arenas and revealed that he thought he was going to Sacramento, via fubo Sports:
“I was kinda shocked because I thought I was going to Sac. The Sacramento deal with Buddy Hield, that shit was done. So I’m like thinking in my head like ‘Okay, well, I’m in Sac’–45-minute flight, that’s not bad, can go to Napa. But then out of nowhere, it goes ‘you’re going to Washington. But I was super hyped, obviously, because it’s a better situation. Going to Sac would’ve been fun, I would’ve went crazy for sure. That’s how I think. But to have the opportunity to play with Brad Beal, someone that is trying to really be a winner in this league because he’s a killer, led the league in scoring multiple years, or he was second this year. It’s just the perfect opportunity, it’s a lot of guys that have chips on their shoulders, everyone’s ready to prove something and that’s when something can be special.”
This just goes to show how crazy the NBA could be sometimes as Kuzma wasn’t even aware where he was being traded as it was all happening.
As he mentioned though, Washington is a good situation for him to take the next step in his career, which he wasn’t quite able to do coming off the bench with the Lakers.
Even though the Wizards don’t have Westbrook anymore, they have a young, talented and deep team that they built around Bradley Beal to compete for a playoff spot in the East this season.
Kuzma thanks Lakers organization after being traded
Shortly after the trade was finalized, Kuzma released a kind statement thanking the Lakers organization, where he played the first four years of his career.
Even though he signed an extension to stick around longer, it is good to see he doesn’t hold any hard feelings towards the Lakers as he embarks on a new journey in Washington.
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