This edition of Mailbag Monday explores whether the Washington Wizards should trade Markieff Morris, and also should they go for DeMarcus Cousins.
Greetings, D.C. Family! Welcome back to another edition of Mailbag. The Washington Wiizards just wrapped up a 3-2 home stand and yet it feels like they went 1-4. The Wizards once again struggled against teams under .500, and although they were victorious, they weren’t overly impressive.
We’re past the halfway point of the season, so we may have to accept that this is who the Wizards are—an above average team who has not lived up to the expectations set forth by them.
Nonetheless, there are some really good questions this week so let’s dive in.
There are few better NBA writers than Matt Moore and in one of his new pieces, he touched upon what has become a topic of conversation amongst fans of the Wiz—trading Markieff Morris. I encourage everyone to read it, as the subject of Moore’s piece is how valuable Otto Porter is to this team.
I’ve been reluctant to entertain the idea of trading Morris, but the piece, along with his up-and-down play has me considering it. The Wizards have locked themselves into a roster that doesn’t have much flexibility…except Morris.
Morris is still young enough and valuable enough as a stretch four that he should net a pretty decent return. His contract is also very team friendly. The things that you worry about with moving Morris—his toughness, his rebounding—consider that the Wizards actually rebound better when he is off the floor.
There are also many times watching the Wizards where you forget that Morris is even on the floor. He does some really dumb stuff. The closing minutes of the Bucks game Monday come to mind.
So to answer your question….I do not know. I think the Wizards have to take a look around the conference and decide whether they’re happy just being good enough. This might be the best shot for any team that fancies itself a contender to unseat LeBron James and the Cavs.
As currently constructed, this team has shown they can perform well against the better teams and in the playoffs. Does the Wizards General Manager Ernie Grunfeld think that’s good enough? We’ll find out as the trade deadline approaches.
Finding a way for DeMarcus Cousins to end up in D.C. is a favorite hobby of the D.C. Family. So Cousins is going to require, more than likely, a max contract. The NBA projected that a 2018 salary cap would be $103 million and a luxury tax line of $125 million. The Wizards, as currently constructed, would have nine guys under contract for next season with a cap number just south of $121 million. I wasn’t a math major but that’s not enough room.
However, two of those players, Jodie Meeks and Jason Smith have player options. Smith’s option is just south of $5.5 million and Meeks just south of $3.5 million. So in this wonderful hypothetical the Wizards would certainly have to deal them at the deadline. Doing so sheds about nine million but that’s still not enough to fit Cousins on a max deal, where the first year of a deal would pay him in the neighborhood of approximately $27 million.
Plus, in any scenario you have to figure any deal for the Wizards involving the aforementioned Meeks and Smith will have players back to D.C. Your best hope playing along in this scenario is that the players returning are also on expiring deals.
Of course the Wizards would likely part ways with Marcin Gortat somehow and he’d be on an expiring, so that would be somewhat enticing if you opted to attempt a sign and trade. I think that could work if the above scenarios also take place, but then your roster is only at six or seven guys and that’s not going to work.
Grunfeld would have to do some serious juggling to attempt this and the bigger question is if Cousins is even worth it. I say no.
Thanks once again for the questions, D.C. Family. We’ll do this again next week.