Washington Wizards: Deadline deals tell us about team’s future plans

Washington Wizards (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Washington Wizards (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

One day later, what do the two trades by the Washington Wizards tell us about the team’s thinking?

The Washington Wizards and their fans have said goodbye to a handful of players lately. Since early December, they’ve made four separate trades that shipped out five players, including the two on Wednesday night involving Otto Porter and Markieff Morris.

It’s what the team has brought in to replace these players that tells us about the front office’s mindset: They’re looking to usher in a new era, but evidently not through youth.

Let’s take Wednesday night’s deal. Porter and Morris are very much so starter-level players that could be flipped for intriguing assets. Instead, the Wizard got back Jabari Parker, Bobby Portis, and a protected 2023 second-round pick from the Chicago Bulls for Porter, and the New Orleans Pelicans dealt Wesley Johnson for Morris and Washington’s 2023 second-rounder.

These moves were clearly made to get out of the luxury tax as all three incoming players’ contracts will be off the books this offseason (Parker’s has a team option). This shouldn’t be overlooked, but it isn’t the whole story.

What getting back veterans like Parker, Portis, and Johnson along with a protected second-round pick four years from now tell us is that the Wizards aren’t interested in rebuilding through young prospects already in the league or meaningful, near-term draft picks. Even the December trades for Trevor Ariza from the Phoenix Suns or Sam Dekker in a three-team deal involving the Milwaukee Bucks and Cleveland Cavaliers involved no new draft picks for the Wizards or future assets.

This should make Wizards fans a little nervous, because the alternatives to getting better are either through the draft and development of late-lottery picks, or be successful suitors in free agency. Neither has really been a strength of the team.

Next. Washington Wizards: Markieff Morris shipped to New Orleans for Wesley Johnson. dark

Per usual, the Wizards find themselves trying to manage a pretty precarious position. On one hand, they’re trying to expedite the return to relevancy by building around proven assets. Yet, by doing so, they’re also either sacrificing promising talent or failing to bring in assets that look beyond the short term. Rebuilds that have one foot in both tend to be painful, so fans should be wary.