The Washington Wizards are sliding down the Eastern Conference standings quickly and things don’t appear to be on the verge of changing. What does appear to be on the verge of changing, though, is the Wizards roster.
While there was a lot of hype entering the season around the Wizards depth, it has played out in a very problematic way. The team is not good enough as currently constructed and some veterans are only preventing younger players from developing this year.
While there is a major question to ask regarding what the Wizards will do with Bradley Beal, that answer doesn’t matter in regards to the need for young players to be playing more. If Beal isn’t around long-term, the young players currently on the team become that much more important to the future of the franchise. If he is around, those same young players are crucial in helping this roster take a significant leap in the coming years.
Deni Adviija is the greatest example of this. He can be a special player in the right role but the only way to get there is by playing and growing on the court. Rui Hachimura is in his third season but is playing a fraction of the minutes he did in years one and two. Rookie Corey Kispert and big man Daniel Gafford are also not seeing nearly enough minutes on a team that’s in the bottom half of the Eastern Conference.
Montrezl Harrell and the reality of him being traded relates directly to Gafford and to a lesser extent, Hachimura. Thomas Bryant is another young weapon that would benefit from Harrell leaving the rotation.
It seems increasingly likely Harrell is moved ahead of the 2022 NBA trade deadline. His expiring contract means the Wizards have no use for him outside of getting assets for him while they can. They certainly will be able to, and it’s something they must do.
Harrell will have suitors on the trade market, from contenders to teams on the rise. Contenders will be the most aggressive in their pursuit as he could be viewed by a number of teams as the guy they need to take that final step. Still, some up-and-coming teams make a ton of sense for his services both short and long term.