Here’s what can’t be true on Feb. 8, 2023: the Wizards not realizing what they’re going to do about Kyle Kuzma.

That’s the day earlier than the NBA commerce deadline. And one among two issues have to be true by the tip of that day: Kuzma has agreed to a long-term deal to remain in Washington, or the Wizards have a deal in place to maneuver him.

The former doesn’t need to be introduced publicly that day; the Wizards simply need to know, the way in which groups within the NBA know for months, generally years, earlier than one thing “officially” occurs, that it’s going to occur, or that it’s not. (This might contain discussions between groups and participant brokers, and nothing extra want be mentioned about it, because the NBA may dock you a whole second-round pick or bag of espresso beans or something else wholly immaterial if it catches you tampering or leaping the free-agent negotiating interval gun prematurely. I’ll simply say Washington by no means appeared all that involved about Bradley Beal’s pending unrestricted free company final summer time.)

The latter is the one possibility the crew has if Kuzma hasn’t made it clear he’s undoubtedly re-signing in D.C.

What can’t occur is shedding the 27-year-old for nothing, which may occur if he hits unrestricted free company subsequent July, free to signal anyplace he needs.

That’s why the following six weeks are moderately consequential to the Wizards’ future.

What’s Kuzma searching for? Of course, he’s seeking to receives a commission. But he’s going to receives a commission irrespective of the place he goes. He’s not going going to go someplace that has a longtime 4 forward of him; been there, completed that, behind LeBron in L.A., earlier than the 2021 commerce that despatched him east, with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Montrezl Harrell, for Russell Westbrook. But, most significantly, Kuzma needs an opportunity to proceed to get higher and develop as a participant.

He’s had extra freedom in his two seasons in Washington than he ever did in L.A., ready within the nook for the ball to come back from James or Anthony Davis — or, earlier than that, being the third wheel behind Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball. The Wizards don’t have any drawback with Kuzma searching pictures wayyyy above the break, or citing the ball, or initiating the offense, with few restrictions. He has zero worry taking, and making, clutch pictures in crunchtime. But, do they win sufficient to maintain him joyful? Can they win sufficient? And is the bag gonna be sufficiently big?

How will he resolve?

“That’s a really good question,” he mentioned after dropping 22 within the Wizards’ 127-102 win Wednesday over Phoenix.

But Washington has selections to make too. The Wizards must know precisely what they’ve of their newest iteration of a “big three” — Beal, Kuzma and Kristaps Porziņģis. The three could possibly be attention-grabbing collectively. Emphasis on “could.” Because of loads of accidents, largely to Beal, the trio has solely performed 20 video games collectively this season. But Tommy Sheppard should quickly make a name, or at the very least a suggestion, to Ted Leonsis: Re-sign Kuzma and Porziņģis and are available perilously near being a tax payer for a doubtlessly enjoyable however non-contending crew, or shake the roster up but once more.

I’m undecided how you can have traded for both of Kuzma or Porziņģis within the final 24 months with out already realizing (that phrase once more) the reply beforehand.

Kuzma’s made it clear he’s opting out of his current deal, and changing into an unrestricted free agent this summer time, as he completely ought to. He’d be nuts not to take action. He may properly get a proposal within the $25 million vary yearly (his fellow free brokers at ahead will doubtless embrace the likes of Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton, the Warriors’ Draymond Green, Portland’s Jerami Grant and Sacramento’s Harrison Barnes). That doesn’t imply Washington can’t re-sign Kuzma; it does imply it’s going to be a hell of much more costly to take action.

The Wizards have been, lastly, after careening by means of a 10-game shedding streak, getting wholesome — after which Beal pulled his left hamstring Tuesday in opposition to Philly, a bit of greater than per week after coming back from a pull of his proper hammy that brought about him to overlook six video games. And it’s getting late within the season to be twelfth within the Eastern Conference.

“We talked about it as a group — we’ve got to make up some ground,” Wes Unseld Jr. mentioned Tuesday earlier than the Wizards knocked off the red-hot 76ers. “There’s got to be a sense of urgency, as far as how we play. I think to at least have the bodies available is a huge first step.”

Roster accidents, not simply to Beal, however to Delon Wright and Rui Hachimura as properly, pushed the Wizards into that December nosedive. And, after all, that fired up the pretend commerce machines.

I’ve discovered to by no means say by no means. But I’m fairly certain the Wizards will not be buying and selling Beal to the Lakers for Westbrook and the Lakers’ 2027 and/or 2029 first-round picks. Let’s attempt to assume this by means of logically. (I do know the previous sentence is ridiculous to sort this time of yr.)

Washington is meant to commerce its three-time All-Star guard, to whom it simply gave 1 / 4 of a billion {dollars} and hasn’t traded over the past three seasons, when it may have, for a bushel of younger gamers and/or picks, to L.A. for Westbrook — who can be right here roughly three months earlier than, once more, transferring on — and one or each of L.A.’s remaining tradeable future picks? And these picks can be used to draft two younger males who’re, as of this writing, round 14 and 12 years outdated, respectively? Do I’ve that proper?

Rob Pelinka, the Lakers’ GM, has to ask about gamers across the league, together with Beal, to see in the event that they’re obtainable. That’s his job. But we don’t all need to take the bait like a Northern Pike in Lake Minnetonka, will we?

The Wizards have truly purchased into the notion that they will add on the deadline, not subtract — more than likely a small ahead who can defend and rating some. (Yes, that feels like KCP to me too.) But Washington simply doesn’t have sufficient data but about its present roster, when wholesome.

I’m fantastic with Washington re-signing Kuzma. But if the Wizards make a deal for, say, Atlanta’s John Collins, I’d perceive that too.

Kuzma’s a greater participant than Collins. But not by a prohibitive quantity. Collins is 26. Kuzma’s 27. Kuzma is averaging a career-best 21.6 factors per sport on a career-high 47 % capturing from the ground; Collins is barely averaging a paltry 12.3 PPG this season. But he’s been on the buying and selling block for months, having been marginalized in Atlanta since his heyday in 2019-20, when he averaged 21 and 10 for a Hawks crew that was beginning its rebuild round Trae Young. Collins needs extra touches, one thing that’s troublesome with Young, Atlanta’s two-time All-Star, dominating the ball.

And, Collins is within the second yr of his five-year, $125 million deal (participant possibility for 2025-26). He’s locked in for the following two-plus seasons at very affordable {dollars} for a plus-level energy ahead. Beal’s locked in, after all, along with his max deal. All that may stay in that state of affairs is for the Wizards to re-sign Porziņģis, who will virtually definitely choose out of his present deal, too, at season’s finish and hit unrestricted free company.

The Wizards have proven a pulse as they’ve lastly began getting wholesome once more. They’ve overwhelmed the (admittedly, Devin Booker-less, each occasions) Suns twice and the vastly improved Kings and the excellent 76ers within the final week-plus. They are nonetheless nowhere close to adequate to problem Boston, Milwaukee or Brooklyn; they’ll be fortunate to get again into the highest eight within the East. But they will’t begin over once more; in some unspecified time in the future, they need to put a core group collectively, depart it alone and see how far it could possibly go. That hasn’t been the case round right here since John Wall final had a non-torn Achilles.

“Mug me or marry me, Shakes. I’m too tired for anything else,” Minnie Driver tells her outdated good friend, who surprisingly confirmed up on her doorstep as she acquired house from work, towards the tip of the criminally underrated movie, “Sleepers.”

Wizards followers can little question relate. It can be a really, very troublesome July day if Kuzma leaves them on the altar as a result of they didn’t know.

(Photo of Kyle Kuzma: Kelley L. Cox / USA Today)

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