Kuzma reunites with boyhood buddy Morris after trade originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Washington snagged the point guard they needed on Wednesday when they traded Ish Smith and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for Monte Morris and Will Barton.
On the court, the trade satisfies a major need for the Wizards as they bolster their depth at point guard with Morris and add a savvy two-way wing for extra depth with Barton. But beneath the basketball X’s and O’s, a much deeper connection has emerged with the duo’s arrival in D.C.
Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma took to Twitter to voice his elation at the team acquiring Morris. Not only does he get a reliable floor general to share the court with, but Kuzma and Morris seem to have preexisting chemistry as teammates. All you have to do is go back to 2003 to find that connection.
Kuzma tweeted that he and Morris were teammates once before: in the second grade. Per his tweet, Kuzma and Morris “said we would play on the same NBA team together” at the time of their childhood partnership. Lo and behold, 19 years later as they both enter their sixth year in the pros that prophecy could come to fruition at the start of the 2022-23 season.
Kuzma and Morris were both born in Flint, Michigan 27 days apart in 1995. They grew up together, often competing against each other on flimsy toy hoops that hung over doors in the Kuzma household, per an ESPN story in 2020.
They went to separate high schools and eventually competed against each other. Kuzma went to the University of Utah and Morris went to Iowa State before they both would get drafted in 2017 — Kuzma to the Lakers at No. 27 and Morris to the Nuggets at No. 51.
It wouldn’t be until the 2020 NBA playoffs in the bubble when they would face each other at the biggest stage of the sport. Kuzma’s Lakers, en route to a championship, would defeat Morris’ Nuggets 4-1 in the Western Conference Finals.
Now, the two boyhood buddies reunite in the nation’s capital. Basketball has taken them all over the country only to see them pair up as Wizards.
Youth connections aside, Morris and Kuzma could prove to be an efficient combination for Wes Unseld Jr.’s squad this season. Kuzma led the team in points and rebounds last year, while Morris has shot nearly 40% from three-point range across his five-year career — a major statistical weakness in Washington last season.
Washington still has many question marks entering the later days of summer. Bradley Beal’s contract status has yet to be worked out, the team is reportedly still in the market for added weapons, and free agency only officially begins on Thursday. Still, even with all those matters hanging in the balance, the Morris-Kuzma connection is an unexpected storyline that reunites two childhood chums in D.C.