'They showed me love' – Kuzma open to long-term extension with the Wizards

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Kyle Kuzma shared on Tuesday that he is open to a long-term extension with the Washington Wizards when he hits free agency.

Kuzma, 27, is fully expected to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season by declining his $13million player option for 2023-24.

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 while suiting up for 45 of a possible 46 fixtures to this point.

Standing at six-foot-nine, Kuzma has shown the ability to defend three positions while also hitting 2.6 three-pointers per game, providing the kind of size, versatility and floor-spacing in desperate demand league-wide.

Kuzma shared that he has had no discussions with the Wizards about a potential extension, but he is open to the conversation when it arrives due to how the franchise has allowed him to spread his wings.

"That’s probably coming," he told The Athletic. "But I’ve said from the jump I love being here, because I can play my game and I’ve developed so much.

"Taking on a new role has been amazing for me… they understand what I’m doing right now. I’m trying to get better and that’s my priority."

He added that he believes the franchise would like to retain him long-term, and he appreciates the feeling of being wanted after being sent away from the Los Angeles Lakers as part of their trade for Russell Westbrook.

"It is a source of peace, because any time somebody wants you, that’s a good thing," he said. "You want to be wanted in this world. You don’t want to be not-wanted.

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

"Players are gone year after year, there are such short stints now. For anybody to want to keep you long term, that’s a blessing.

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

"I want to keep elevating. Having a leadership position, having somewhere where I’m developing and playing my game and my role and I’m getting better every single game – that’s what I care about."

With his ability to leave the Wizards at the end of the season, Kuzma said he is aware he will be involved in trade rumours as the franchise assesses what they could potentially get in return, but it does not bother him.

"I’ve been in trade talks five out of six years in my career," he said. "I’ve seen it. I’ve been through it. I understand it.

"I’ve been in trade rumours at the highest of the highest levels year after year. So, I’m numb to white noise and noise in general. I don’t get rattled and I don’t get bothered. I’m really an unbothered 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 may want out and say I want to be here or whatever, but nobody really knows but me, and I don’t even know.

"I don’t get caught up in speculation and all the headlines and stuff, because I’ve been there. I’ve been there and done that. I understand what it is."