Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Have ‘No Hard Feelings’ About Trade to Wizards
Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will be playing against the Lakers for the first time since the franchise traded them to the Wizards for Russell Westbrook last summer.
“It’s going to mean a lot. Me and Kuz are already trying to picture what it’s going to be like,” Caldwell-Pope told NBA.com. “We know it’s going to be a lot of emotions because of the championship run we had with the team and our friends that are still there. There’s going to be a lot of emotion and a lot of fun.”
Since moving to Washington, Kuzma has become the third leading scorer on the Wizards, averaging 17.2 points and 8.7 rebounds per game on 45.7 percent shooting from the field. He’s looked at several times to be the Wizards’ second-best player after Bradley Beal. KCP has continued to thrive in his usual role as a Three-and-D threat, scoring 12.3 points per game on 39.1 percent shooting from deep.
“The team and organization really lean on me,” Kuzma said. “Everyone respects my basketball acumen here with being able to win a championship and to have winning habits. People respect that. On top of that, everybody believes in me. They really allow me to be myself. They want me to impact the game by doing it all. Having that confidence from everybody makes it easier for me.”
At this point of the season, the Wizards (29-35) and the Lakers (28-37) are fighting for a spot in the play-in tournament. Neither team expected to be in a position so late into the season after the Wizards were thought to be a playoff threat after GM Tommy Sheppards’ masterful orchestration of a Westbrook trade and acquiring Kuz KCP, Spencer Dinwiddie, Montrezl Harrell, and Aaron Holiday.
However, all but KCP and Kuz were moved at the deadline.
For the Lakers, they were believed to be a championship contender after acquiring Westbrook. The season has been full of drama and disaster as the Lakers have struggled just to stay at .500, let alone be a guarantee for a playoff spot. Blame has been spread everywhere to coaching, the front office, and the players themselves.
With all that being said, Kuzma described the return game as “we have to win that game” Kuzma also depicted the end of the LA trip as an “exciting time.” and Caldwell-Pope admitted he would have “some extra juice” when they play the Lakers on Thursday.
“I don’t really play the ‘what if,'” Kuzma said. “I’m cemented as a winner, and I’m cemented as a Lakers champion. For me, it’s not about ‘what if.’ It’s time to move on. It’s time to improve my game.”
“No hard feelings. I’m at peace,” Caldwell-Pope added. “I’m happy where I’m at.”