If you watched yesterday’s debacle against the Milwaukee Bucks, it’s pretty obvious what a drastic drop off the Washington Wizards have between their starters and the bench. To make matters even worse, Nene and Martell Webster went down in the first half with foot injuries, making Trevor Ariza and Marcin Gortat the only players John Wall was able to rely on. Without any depth on the roster, Randy Wittman was forced to play John Wall the entire second half and overtime, leaving him gassed and unable to score when the Wizards needed it most.
With 15-players already under contract, the Wizards aren’t able to sign a few free agents in hopes of getting some production off the bench. Emeka Okafor’s expiring contract and their protected first round pick for this upcoming NBA Draft have already been dealt, leaving the Wizards without any tradeable assets besides Trevor Ariza, who’s played some tremendous basketball this season. There’s been times where Ariza has bailed the Wizards out on both sides of the floor, and he has shown leadership off the court which we haven’t seen from Ariza in the past. He’s knocking down shots, especially from the corner threes, and he’ll likely get a decent sized contract this offseason. Ariza has arguably played some of the best basketball of his career in Washington this season, but he might be the only player on the roster the Wizards could trade for some bench production.
Even though Ariza has been a major contributor to Washington’s success this season, I think it could be replaced once Bradley Beal and Martell Webster return from injury. The Wizards had one of the most productive starting lineups in the league last season with Wall-Beal-Webster-Nene-Okafor on the floor, and I think it could be replicated this season when swapping Okafor for Gortat. Webster and Beal are two of the best 3-point shooters on the team, so I don’t think the Wizards will lose much from a perimeter shooting standpoint. They’ll certainly lose something defensively, but Webster isn’t a terrible defender by any means. Otto Porter will eventually get comfortable, and he’ll fit right in with what the WIzards are trying to do.
But who could the Wizards trade Ariza for? That’s the difficult part in this scenario.
Unless something unexpected happens, Trevor Ariza will likely leave Washington as a free agent this summer to go play for a contending team. Every team needs a 3-and-D player, and Ariza has certainly lived up to those expectations so far this season. The Wizards would have to do some serious searching to trade Ariza without ruining their cap situation for this summer.
Our very own Akbar Naqvi brought up a decent trade idea in a Twitter conversation, which ironically involved the Milwaukee Bucks. For the sake of having a trade idea, I threw something together in ESPN’s Trade Machine involving Caron Butler+ Luke Ridnour and Trevor Ariza, who were the key pieces in Akbar’s trade idea.
Luke Ridnour would be an instant upgrade over Eric Maynor, who’s been one of the worst backup point guards the Wizards have had in recent memory. Butler is obviously familiar with the Wizards having played in the nation’s capital during the prime of his career, and having him provide some valuable scoring off the bench would provide some relief to Bradley Beal and Martell Webster.
The Bucks are possibly the worst team in the NBA, so losing a few players that could potentially result in a few more losses wouldn’t hurt their lottery chances this season. Butler and Ridnour haven’t really contributed much in Milwaukee this season, and it seems like Khris Middleton and Nate Wolters have taken their rotation spots as of late.
The Wizards don’t necessarily have to trade for those specific players, but I think they might have to trade Trevor Ariza to get some bench relief. John Wall and Co. can’t be run into the ground just in order to close out games against teams that the Wizards should beat by double-digits. Washington would’ve beaten the Milwaukee Bucks yesterday if they got any sort of bench production, and I think this will be a reoccurring thing throughout the entire season. To put it simply, Washington’s bench has been absolutely terrible this season and I’m not sure I want to see John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Nene play 40+ minutes each and every game for 82 contests.
We’ve seen a large enough sample size to know that Washington’s bench won’t get the job done. Trevor Ariza has been great this season, but I would look into trading him for a few capable bench players.
Give me your thoughts in the comments section. Should the Wizards trade Trevor Ariza in order to help the bench? Let me know.