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Kyle Kuzma Reveals Why He Chose Staying With Wizards Over Mavs Trade

Kyle Kuzma was presented with the choice to be traded to the Mavs, but instead, he chose to remain a member of the Wizards.

DALLAS — The Dallas Mavericks were active before the midseason trade deadline, acquiring P.J. Washington and Daniel Gafford to pair with Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving as they seek to contend. 

One player the Mavs were strongly linked to in trade discussions but did not acquire was Kyle Kuzma of the Washington Wizards. Reports suggested a deal was "close" but did not ultimately transpire. Kuzma remains a member of the Wizards. 

Kyle Kuzma, Washington Wizards

When speaking to Josh Robbins of The Athletic, Kuzma explained the Mavs "definitely" had trade interest in him. He was presented with a trade by Washington's president of basketball operations, Michael Winger, but made the decision to stay instead of being dealt to Dallas. 

“There was a point in time, Dallas, they definitely did want me,” Kuzma told The Athletic on Monday, before the Wizards played the Mavericks at American Airlines Center. “Winger presented me with what the trade was and obviously didn’t want to trade me and kind of left the decision up to me a little bit and asked me what I wanted to do. I told him I wanted to stay and continue to build something. And that was kind of the end of it.”

Kuzma, who won a championship with the Los Angeles Lakers, described the NBA as having only "three or four" true title contenders, insinuating the Mavs are not among that shortlist of teams. 

“In my career, I won a championship. So, I understand that when we play this game of basketball it’s not about contending for a playoff spot. It’s about contending for an NBA championship," Kuzma told The Athletic. "There’s only like three or four contenders — true contenders. I just felt like our timelines didn’t line up.”

Kuzma's former teammate, Gafford, has thrived in two games after being traded to Dallas. Gafford finished with 16 points, 17 rebounds, five blocks, two assists, and two steals in 24 minutes in the Mavs' 112-104 victory over the Wizards on Monday. Kuzma described Gafford's new situation as "the easiest job in sports now."

"Gafford's got the easiest job in sports now. Everybody is going to double, he's just got to catch the ball in the middle of the key, and he just has to make the right play, either pass or dunk it. 16 and 17 in 24 minutes... I am very happy for him."

Since making his Mavs debut, Gafford has averaged 17.5 points, 13.0 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks in 20.5 minutes per game. He and Washington stepped into starting roles for the first time after their second games played in Dallas.