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NBA free agency 2022: Childhood friends Kyle Kuzma and Monte Morris finally playing together in NBA

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Washington Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma couldn't contain his excitement Wednesday afternoon.

Soon after news broke that the Wizards traded Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith to the Denver Nuggets for Will Barton and Monte Morris, Kuzma revealed how he and Morris, a fellow Flint, Michigan, native had wanted to play together in the NBA since they were 8 years old.

Kuzma and Morris grew up together as close friends in Flint but literally hadn't played on the same team since their time at Dailey Elementary School, according to MLive.com. Though still incredibly young and still learning the game of basketball, their elementary school basketball coach remembered Kuzma and Morris well.

"I could see good ability in both of those kids," Spencer Eason told MLive.com in 2017. "The kids used to tease Kyle and call him Peja Stojakovic because he could shoot the ball really good. Man-Man [Monte Morris], he ran the team just like he does now, whether it was Beecher or Iowa State, so I seen potential in both of them."

Kuzma even went so far as to call him and Morris "best friends since we were 7 or 8" who talk all the time. Both helped shed more light on the issues in their hometown of Flint, especially the water crisis which began in 2014.

The two went on to play at different middle schools and high schools but eventually met up in the second round of the Michigan Class C boy’s basketball district playoffs in 2012. Morris' Beecher Buccaneers took down Kuzma's Bentley Bulldogs, 80-34, according to ESPN. Morris and Kuzma separated even more when Kuzma transferred to Rise Academy in Philadelphia after his junior year in 2013 before enrolling at Utah. Morris, meanwhile, won Michigan's Mr. Basketball before heading to Iowa State.

Kuzma and Morris converged in the NBA, but as opponents. Both were drafted in 2017 – Kuzma went 27th to the Los Angeles Lakers, while Morris went 51st to the Nuggets – and played each other 13 times over the last five seasons. Kuzma won nine of those contests, including four in the playoffs.

For now, they're finally teammates in Washington. But there's still a lot of offseason left before the 2022-2023 season kicks off in October. Kuzma has been the subject of some trade speculation recently, so the pair's reunion could be short-lived if the Wizards find a good partner this summer.

Monte Morris and Kyle Kuzma have been friends since second grade. (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
Monte Morris and Kyle Kuzma have been friends since second grade. (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)