As the trade rumors begin to heat up ahead of the February 6th trade deadline, the Washington Wizards would be smart to stand pat.
With the NBA season in full effect and almost halfway through, we have finally reached everyone’s favorite time of year: the trade deadline. Teams are gearing up for potential transactions and fans are firing up their trade machines as their favorite team’s armchair GM. With some teams in the process of deciding if they should be buyers or sellers at the deadline, one team that should hold off all together is the Washington Wizards.
Over the past few seasons under the tutelage of Ernie Grunfeld, the Wizards had been very active in the trade market around the deadline. In 2016 they traded a 1st round pick to Phoenix for Markieff Morris, in 2017 they traded another 1st round pick to Brooklyn for Bojan Bogdanovic and in 2019 they traded Otto Porter to Chicago for a few expiring contracts and a pick.
However in 2020 with Tommy Shepard at the helm, the Wizards would be smart to hold off on any moves, frankly, because they don’t have a whole lot to offer.
The two biggest trade chips the Wiz have right now are two guys that they are probably better off holding onto in Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans. With his recently signed extension Beal is not eligible to be traded until after this season, so potential trades for him will have to be put on hold (for now).
Bertans on the other hand is a very hot commodity right now in the trade market, with several playoff teams interested in his services. However, as Collin wrote a few days ago, the Wizards would like to keep Bertans, and they absolutely should. A 27-year-old, 6’10 sharpshooter is hard to come by and probably more valuable than a mid/late first round pick that these playoff teams have to offer, assuming you can re-sign him.
Obviously if they were offered a good deal to trade Bertans, likely something that would have to include a higher 1st or a young player with a lot of promise, they should take it. However looking at some of the teams that are interested in him, the cupboard is fairly bare as to what they can offer, UNLESS Denver is willing to part with Michael Porter Jr. (I also recently saw a trade machine that had Bertans going to the Lakers for KCP and a 2nd round pick. Ohhhh Lakers fans).
Does Isaiah have any value?
So if you take those two out of the equation, what do you have? Isaiah Thomas is a tricky one because although he has been solid on the offensive end and shot well, it would be hard to find a deal that would benefit the Wizards for a guy who is a liability on the defensive end and has injury problems. The bigger question is whether you want to trade Thomas just to have him off the roster.
In a new era focused on building for the future and developing youth, Thomas is a bit of an outlier for this thought process. If the Wizards are contingent on getting more minutes and opportunities for the likes of Gary Payton II, Troy Brown or Admiral Schofield, then maybe you move Thomas. However the return wouldn’t be much, and I doubt that the Wizards move him.
Back To the Future
After that, you are pretty much left with a few expiring contracts, the young guys you want to keep for developmental purposes, and John Wall. Is there a deal out there that would involve Ian Mahinmi’s expiring contract? Potentially, and teams are always looking for ways to match salaries, so if DC could squeeze a 2nd round pick out of someone that would be a best case scenario. But still not overly likely. Cj Miles is probably done for the year and is also on an expiring contract, so he could also be another trade filler, however the injury probably makes him less valuable than Mahinmi.
As for all the young guys, they would be another example of guys you hold onto unless you get a sweet offer. Rui Hachimura has been very solid in his rookie year. Moe Wagner and Isaac Bonga just came over this summer and have looked promising. Thomas Bryant is on a very affordable contract and still just 22. Troy Brown Jr. has taken a serious leap the past few months and is still developing. So with these guys you are still playing the long game unless you are shipping them out for some serious capital.
The last piece is John Wall who is still out and probably wont play this year, so there is a zero percent chance he gets traded this season. The Wall situation is an interesting one however, as it appears that Tommy Sheppard wants to play the wait and see game and whether he can continue to compete with a Wall/Beal core over the next couple of years. John Wall still has a lot of on court value even if he does not come back exactly the same as what he once was, but as always, it becomes about his supermax contract and how hard it could potentially be to trade. The most likely scenario is Wall plays out his contract but you never know, things always change.
Don’t Do it!
So for the most part looking at what the Wizards have to offer, there are not a whole lot of options that really benefit the Wizards. At this point making a trade would be just to do it.
Now, as always in the NBA, things can always change and players circumstances can change their trade value. If the Wizards can find a deal that involves Jayson Tatum, MPJr or a high first, by all means they should do it! However in a year focused on youth and preparing for the future, the Wizards are better off holding out and playing the long game.
For so many years Wizards management was focused on the short term which made the trade deadline a very important time for them. However this year, with the team in its current state, the Wizards would be best off thinking about whats more important: the long term.