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Kyle Kuzma viewed as likely trade candidate ahead of Feb. 9 deadline

Kyle Kuzma

Once again, the Washington Wizards are struggling to begin their season, falling to 12th place in the Eastern Conference. What’s interesting is the fact that they have three players averaging 20 or more points per game, including Kyle Kuzma, who’s in the midst of the best season of his career.

There’s no doubt that Kuzma has been a valuable part of the rotation, but he’s also set to be a free agent at the end of the season, and there’s no guarantee the Wizards are the ideal long-term fit for the 27-year-old Michigan native.

Other teams around the NBA have taken notice of Kuzma’s career resurgence and view him as a player who can help them improve their playoff seeding this season, with the hopes he can be a long-term fit.

Related: NBA trade deadline season opens: 10 players possibly on the move, including Zach Lavine

NBA insider suggests Kyle Kuzma is on the trade block

NBA: Washington Wizards at Phoenix Suns
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

There’s now a strong sense that Kuzma will be on the move before the NBA’s February 9 trade deadline, according to one NBA insider.

As Marc Stein reports, Kuzma is viewed as a likely trade candidate due to Washington’s fear that the 27th overall pick from the 2017 NBA Draft will sign elsewhere as a free agent. This would leave the Wizards without one of their top players heading into 2023 and having nothing to show for it.

Yet, the alternative would be finding a trade partner before the trade deadline, allowing the Wizards a better chance at building a roster ready to compete next season. Kuzma is on a reasonable $13 million salary this season and has a player option for next year at the same rate, which he’s nearly guaranteed to opt-out of, knowing a much bigger payday is in store for him this offseason.

Kuzma should have plenty of teams interested in adding him to their roster, in which the Wizards could likely land a first-round pick. Perhaps even a return to the Los Angeles Lakers is in store with something like Patrick Beverley and a future first-round pick being sent back to Washington. Beverley can then be traded or bought out to provide cap relief.

But that’s just one small scenario. As mentioned, Kuzma can help a lot of potential contenders make a postseason push. This likely won’t be the last Kuzma trade rumor we hear before the February deadline passes.

Related: 4 realistic Kyle Kuzma trade scenarios from the Washington Wizards