The next week marks a big one for sports fans across the country with March Madness beginning, NFL free agency opening up on Tuesday afternoon, and of course, the NBA trade deadline on Thursday.
Sitting at 9-29, the Wizards aren’t going anywhere other than the lottery this season so they won’t be entering the Josh Smith sweepstakes or be among the NBA buyers this year. And it’s very likely that next Friday morning the Wizards will be sitting with the same exact roster they have right now, but Washington does have some commodities that could be sold off before then.
The Wizards roster is mostly untradeable with the young players that Ted Leonsis and Ernie Grunfeld have invested so heavily in. That means players like Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton, Shelvin Mack, Trevor Booker, Kevin Seraphin, Jordan Crawford, and obviously John Wall are all locks to wake up as Washington Wizards on the morning of March 16. Those seven players account for half of the Wizards roster. Of the rest, JaVale McGee has a slim chance of being traded but I’d put the percentage chance somewhere around 5 or ten percent. Ernie Grunfeld — if he’s still the team president — will have a decision to make this summer when JaVale enters the restricted free agent market, but for now I think it’s safe to say that JaVale McGee is going to be a Washington Wizard for the rest of this season. And of course there are the “veteran presences” of Rashard Lewis, Mo Evans, and Roger Mason. We already know that Rashard Lewis and his huge contract will get a buyout before next season, leaving Evans and Mason who have each had their moments off the bench and would net nothing back in return in a trade.
That right there is 11 of the Wizards’ fourteen players, leaving just three players that maybe — just maybe — could be traded by Thursday’s deadline. Those three are Nick Young, Andray Blatche, and the forgotten Ronny Turiaf.
I’ll start this off by saying this: I don’t expect any of those three to be moved, but if any current Wizards are moved, it will be them.
Nick Young has been moved to the bench and this past Wednesday he had his first productive game since Valentine’s Day when he had 19 points and a career-high six assists in the comeback win over the Lakers. He rarely passes, he’s a streaky shooter, and hijacks offensive possessions. . . So why would a team want to trade for Nick Young? The answer: it’s a no-risk move to make. Nick has an expiring contract and the team he would be going to would not have be obligated to pay him beyond this season. And while we all give Nick a hard time about his lack of assists and shooting woes, I do think he could be productive somewhere. He can defend better than most people give him credit for — just ask Kobe Bryant — and coming off the bench he can provide instant offense — think a poor man’s version of J.R. Smith. Not to mention if a team wants him, all they would have to surrender to the Wizards is a future second round pick. Now if I was Ernie Grunfeld (a scary thought, I know), would I trade Nick Young for a second round pick? Sure I would. Nick Young won’t be wearing a fresh red, white, and blue Wizards uniform beyond April anyway, and for a team dedicated to rebuilding through the draft, a second round might have some value. Maybe.
Next is the curious case of Andray Blatche. Ernie Grunfeld has acknowledged that he’s spoken to teams trying to trade the maligned power forward. However, don’t expect him to be traded. Unlike Nick Young, Blatche has three years and over 23 million dollars due to him still left on his contract and the baggage that 7-Day-Dray would bring to a team just isn’t worth it either. And I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing for the Wizards. I’ve been an Andray Blatche detractor throughout his entire career, and I’d love to get rid of him yesterday, but if Grunfeld was able to trade him he’d have to take back another equally bad contract in return — and that isn’t what any of us want. The best move for the Wizards requires patience. In a few more months the Wizards can use the amnesty clause to rid themselves of Andray Blatche.
Finally there’s Ronny Turiaf. Yes, he’s on the roster in case you’ve forgotten. He’s back with the team and will hopefully be able to play in the next week or so after his hand injury. He’s another guy that I don’t expect to be traded, but I suppose it’s possible if a team got desperate for some frontcourt depth. Assuming he’d pass a physical, he’d be appealing to teams because of his expiring contract at the end of the year, his ability to pass out of the post, and — like Nick Young — he wouldn’t cost anything more than a future second round and/or cash.