Washington Wizards General Manager Tommy Sheppard has made his name in the trade game—but even more importantly, he’s shown himself to be a shrewd captain of the piggy back. When another team needs to grease the wheels of a trade, Tommy Sheppard is there with a can of Monumental Sports-branded Crisco and a player in return for his troubles.
How did the Wizards acquire Davis Bertans? Because the Spurs were clearing cap space for Marcus Morris (whom they didn’t even land).
How did the Wizards acquire Russell Westbrook? Because the Houston Rockets had imploded as an organization.
How did the Wizards acquire Spencer Dinwiddie? Because the Lakers were desperate to shake things up.
How did the Wizards acquire Kristaps Porzingis? Because Tommy Sheppard put the Wizards in a position to consolidate assets with the moves mentioned above.
(There’s more to be said about Tommy’s sub-par performance as a drafter, but that’s a different story for another time.)
Given Bradley Beal’s new supermax extension, the Washington Wizards have planted their flag in a win-at-all-costs position. There are no more excuses for not going all in now. With Beal locked up for the next five years, it’s time to pull the trigger on another trade, consolidate some assets, and give the Wizards a real chance of competing for a championship.
Kristaps Porzingis (assuming he stays healthy, sigh) is quite the get for this team, a unicorn the likes this team has never had before. Beal and KP are a formidable duo who still haven’t seen the floor together. But that’s just step one. It’s going to take one more move to put this team into contention.
Easier said than done, says every member of Wizards Twitter. Deni Avdija. Rui Hachimura, and Corey Kispert aren’t coveted assets. The team just signed Delon Wright and Taj Gibson as free agents, ensuring they will hold their roster spot captive until January/February. Instead of trading the 10th pick for something of value, he selected Johnny Davis, who does nothing to help the cause here.
There are limitations to what Tommy Sheppard can actually do to change the Wizards’ fortunes—however, other teams are desperate to make something happen, and this is when he’s proven to be most effective.
All reports and rumors seem to indicate that Donovan Mitchell wants to be in the New York market. Kevin Durant has asked for a trade from the Brooklyn Nets. The Lakers are thirsting after Kyrie Irving. The Pacers wants to move Myles Turner. Enter the Tommy Sheppard Piggy Back.
Note: these are all hypotheticals and are just examples of what the Wizards options are.
What if the Nets are interested in Donovan Mitchell? What if they like the idea of Porzingis and Mitchell together? What if the Jazz are only looking for draft compensation and young players? Could Tommy Sheppard hop on the phone and put a bug in someone’s ear to bring #KD2DC?
Maybe the Raptors change their tune on Scottie Barnes. Maybe Kevin Durant ends up in Toronto. Could Tommy Sheppard pluck OG Anunoby while sending some pieces and compensation to the Nets?
Say the Miami Heat lose their minds and decide the only way to get off Duncan Robinson is to trade Lowry for Westbrook. Could Tommy Sheppard finesse Tyler Herro by sending out some combo of Hachimura, Avdija, or Kispert?
Are the Hawks still shopping John Collins? Is Andrew Wiggins expendable now that Jonathan Kuminga has a season under his belt?
The likelihood for any of these is slim to none: but the likelihood of turning Bertans and Dinwiddie into Kristaps Porzingis felt unimaginable not that long ago. It isn’t my job to figure this out, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a glaring lack of talent on this team.
Tommy Sheppard, Piggyback Wizard, needs to get on the phone and Mean Girls this Wizards squad into a contender. Middling, role-player for role-player trades aren’t going to move the needle for this team. The Wizards need that proverbial Big Swing. They need to make it now.
Everybody (eligible) should be on the table, including first round draft pick Johnny Davis. The clock started the moment Beal signed his max extension. He says he wants to and believes he can win in Washington. Tommy Sheppard seems to agree.
Well, what kind of sorcery you got for us this time, Tommy?