One of the important yet under-discussed storylines for the 2023-24 Washington Wizards concerns their 22-year-old forward Deni Avdija. As the 2020 draft class is now eligible for contract extensions, the Wizards fans are eyes on their lottery pick from three years ago. Whether Avdija and the Wizards will be able to agree on a contract extension remains a question mark. The odds may be against an extension being signed before the beginning of the season, so should the Wizards consider trading him instead of risking losing him for nothing next summer?
Avdija is about to begin a crucial fourth season in the NBA. In his three years so far, he has demonstrated a solid defensive ability. He has good size, strength, and lateral mobility to guard multiple positions. This has helped him carve a rotation role immediately.
Yet, the offensive part of his game hasn’t developed to the same degree. He has poor volume and accuracy as a shooter. He is a decent secondary playmaker but his speed and athleticism deficiency make it hard for him to be a scoring threat inside the arc. Currently, he is merely a low-usage cog in the machine offensively.
So, it may not seem like a big loss for the Wizards if they can’t agree to a contract extension with Avdija. This could mean that Avdija can sign a big offer sheet with another team next summer.
Does that mean the Wizards should try to trade him now and get some value for him?
Avdija is still 22 years old and has untapped potential. He may not have elite athleticism but there aren’t too many 6’9 forwards in the league who can guard multiple positions and have the ball skills like Avdija. His building blocks are too intriguing to give up on too quickly. He still has a chance to be a long-term starter for the Wizards.
If Avdija does end up signing an offer sheet next summer, the Wizards can simply match the offer. If he plays well enough to deserve a big offer sheet, Washington should be thrilled to pay the Israeli forward that contract anyway.
Yes, the Wizards could possibly receive a late first-round pick or multiple second-round picks and a young player if they traded Avdija today. However, is that worth it? Probably not.
Betting on the development of Avdija is a smarter move. He could easily outplay that value on his new contract. A rebuilding team like Washington shouldn’t be in the business of giving up on 22-year-olds with potential.