With the NBA season still in flux, the Washington Wizards have had a little bit of buzz over the past few days with some rumors that they may be interested in Utah Jazz Center Rudy Gobert.
It has been a quiet few weeks for NBA fans with the world still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. As expected, the NBA has taken all the necessary precautions in order to keep as many people associated with the league as healthy and safe as possible.
With the league currently on hold, the NBA news department has been rather quiet, to no surprise. However, over the past few days there has been some speculation that has been a hot topic on NBA twitter:
Rudy Gobert to the Washington Wizards.
Although there has not been a lot of substance to these rumors, and there have been no firm reports from either team, the rumor does make some sense from the cheap seats.
The Washington Wizards, as we know, have had serious issues on the defensive side of the ball and are in serious need of a rim-protecting presence.
On the Utah Jazz’s side, there is apparently a rift between Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell after they both tested positive for COVID-19.
So if Mitchell forces the Jazz front office’s hand and wants Gobert out of Utah, the Wizards would make sense as a potential landing spot.
Bleacher Report also had the Wizards throwing in a 2021 first-round pick (lottery protected).
On paper, Gobert to D.C. makes some sense from a roster standpoint. However, a deal such as the one suggested above would not be worth it for the Washington Wizards. It is less about Rudy Gobert as a player and more about the ripple effects that a deal like this would cause.
Here are a few reasons why going after Gobert isn’t worth it for Washington:
The first issue with a Gobert trade is it would continue an ongoing trend for the Wizards: not thinking too highly of their young assets/picks and shipping them off before they’ve gotten a chance to develop.
The Wizards are in a weird spot right now. It almost appears they are still trying to put off a rebuild, and for good reason. I believe that they should give the Wall/Beal dup one last shot considering a healthy John Wall has never played with this version of Bradley Beal. With Wall’s contract, he is not going anywhere so why not try to compete instead of rebuild?
Bringing in Gobert would fuel the “all in” philosophy that would go well with a final shot for Wall and Beal. But with so many question marks around Wall, the Wizards need a backup plan. But giving up that many pieces in a Gobert deal would basically make a backup plan nonexistent.
What happens if somebody gets hurt? What happens if Gobert doesn’t want to sign an extension?
If anything negative happens (which does tend to happen in D.C.), the Wizards would be left without many options. Whereas if they keep these Smith, Bryant, Hachimura, and their pick, they have a few directions they can pivot to if things don’t work out.
Theoretically, I do not mind the Wizards going all in one last time with Wall and Beal. But if they want to do it, do it right. If you want to move assets, get a star player above Gobert’s caliber who can impact the game on the offensive and defensive ends. Just as they should have when they should have traded for Paul George two summers ago or Jimmy Butler a year ago.
Rudy Gobert is a great player who would be a great fit in D.C. However, I don’t know that he moves the needle enough to justify giving up the future.
Which leads me to my next point…
The Looming Contract Extension
The next big issue that the Wizards would have with a potential Gobert acquisition is that Gobert is set to be an unrestricted free agent after the 2020-2021 season. At that point, he’ll be 29 years old. Already making over $20 million per year, he most likely will be looking for a max extension that will put the Wizards in another tough spot.
It would obviously be very hard to justify moving the pieces the Wizards are moving for a one-year rental. If they make the deal, the assumption would be the Gobert would need to sign an extension.
The Wizards are already in a salary cap bind with Wall’s supermax and Beal’s max contract. They also still want to resign Davis Bertans this summer, and that will not be cheap either.
So if you sign Gobert to an extension, you now have three max players and Davis Bertans taking up almost all of your cap. Bertans may no longer be a viable option if they have to pay Gobert.
If the Wizards get Gobert and underperform, they are screwed. If things do not work out, Bradley Beal would be easy to move. However, being left with two max players who both have limitations would be tough to move on from.
Not only would you have three max players under contract but you have also moved on from your 2019 1st round pick in Rui Hachimura and have also traded your 2021 pick in some facet depending on the restrictions.
So all in all, again, Rudy Gobert is a good player who would fit in well in D.C. He is great defensive presence would help a historically bad defense from day one.
But it seems the negatives outweigh the positives. In a vacuum, he could help this team, but as soon as things potentially go wrong, the Wizards would feel the ripple effects for a long time.
The biggest issue with bringing in Rudy Gobert is it cancels out a lot of flexibility that the Wizards have been trying so hard to create under new GM Tommy Sheppard. Since he took the general manager role, Sheppard has loaded up on young, low-risk, high-reward guys. Now the future looks bright(ish) in Washington.
To me, bringing in Gobert reeks of Ernie Grunfeld and will just prolong a potential plan post Wall/Beal. Gobert is not young and will be very expensive to retain. But besides the money, the Wizards would give up a lot of what makes their future seem so promising if they lost Hachimura, Bryant, and a first-round pick for a rental. Ultimately, the price is just too steep.
So although Gobert would help this team and could be a great piece for a potential playoff run over the next few years, the ripple effects could be too hard to recover from.
Want your voice heard? Join the Wiz Of Awes team!Write for us!