If you thought you’d been transported back in time to 2020 this week, you could be forgiven based solely on how much Kuz has been in the news. There was the rumor that the Lakers have “inquired” with the Washington Wizards about a potential trade for him, the news that he is planning to opt out of his contract this summer, and plenty of other Kyle Kuzma related headlines.
The thing that is different from 2020, however, is obviously that Kuzma is no longer on the Lakers. Although, based on what he told Dave McMenamin of ESPN in a recent interview, that may not be the case forever:
Reflecting on the phone call he had with Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka the day L.A. decided to send him to D.C. in the Westbrook deal, Kuzma might have left a bread crumb to follow of what’s to come.
“I was walking my dog,” Kuzma said. “I got a call from Rob and he was like, ‘Hey man, I love you, this is just a part of the business and this is never a ‘goodbye,’ it’s always a ‘see you later.’”
Why is this coming up now? Well, aside from the Wizards playing against the Lakers on Sunday and the previously mentioned reports, there was also Kuz making no secret of the idea that he does miss his adopted home state in a recent tweet:
Nothing like getting off the plane and that California breeze hit you— kuz (@kylekuzma) December 15, 2022
It was a post that was so unsubtle that even other NBA players gave him a hard time about it:
Basically— Trae Young (@TheTraeYoung) December 15, 2022
Now, Kuzma defended himself by pointing out that he still lives in Los Angeles outside of the NBA season... but that’s not necessarily quieting any buzz that he would welcome a return to the city in a closer-to-year-round capacity.
Despite that, and all the speculation about him potentially wearing purple and gold again sooner rather than later, he told McMenamin that he’s not going to demand a trade:
“I definitely could [lobby for a trade],” Kuzma said. “But that’s very immature. I’m not a really immature person. I like to do business in a professional way. So, I would never do that.”
What he will do is lay out the cards as they stand now.
“I haven’t heard anything,” he said when asked about a potential trade. “The Wizards love me. It’s going to be really tough to do. Do the Lakers have anything [to make a deal]?”
To answer that last question... Well, yes and no, Kuz. As my colleague Darius Soriano laid out on Thursday, the Lakers do have the contracts and assets to essentially bring Kuzma home ahead of his potential free agency this summer, but whether or not the Wizards would send him back to L.A. is another matter entirely, and one we have no way of knowing the answer to until it does or doesn’t happen.
But as for the former part of that paragraph: No, no, Kuz would never demand a trade. He would just talk about how he’ll never say goodbye to his old team, publicly state he’s opting out of his contract so the Wizards know they may lose him for nothing if they don’t trade him, tweet about how much he loves California weather and breathlessly praise the Lakers for how much of an impact they made on him in multiple interviews.
But no, he would never demand a trade.