IT didn’t work. Washington has been able to achieve some form of success in recent years, yet they were never able to make a serious dent in the postseason. As a result, it seems like owner Ernie Grunfeld and the Wizards front office have accepted they don’t have a championship calibre team on their hands and now, it’s time to look towards the future. After previously being held out of trade discussions the Wiz are now reportedly willing to listen to offers for either of their stellar backcourt stars, John Wall and/or Bradley Beal, a true sign that they are ready to move on from this era. That’s providing they can trade either of the disgruntled studs, which is no certainty by the way.
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POINT the finger wherever you want but simply put Washington didn’t get it done. Their two best players reportedly don’t get along, Scott Brookes is on the hot seat and suspect contracts litter the roster. It actually makes sense, in my opinion, to blow things up now and launch a rebuild, especially if it helps you get off of John Wall’s monstrous upcoming extension.
LET’S look at John Wall first. Honestly, the Wizards face an uphill battle trying to trade Wall, with his future extension causing some NBA GM’s to hesitate. The Wizards current floor general is serving the last year of a 5yr/$85mil extension that will net him around about $20 million this season. Not alarming for an All-Star calibre dude. The alarming part comes next year when Wall’s 4yr/$169mil supermax contract kicks in and his salary balloons to $37.8mil for the 2019-20 season. That deal provides Wall with a luxurious $46.8 million dollar player option when he turns 32 as well. Hard pass.
THOSE tough contract constraints mean that any team who is trading for John Wall has to be invested in the point guard for the long haul. One such team that could throw their hat into the ring is the Phoenix Suns, who have been linked to Wall in the past. It doesn’t fit the team’s timeline, but with a glaring hole at point guard, Phoenix could jumpstart their rebuild by landing Wall. There are a few other cellar dwellers who could emerge as suitors such as the New York Knicks and Miami Heat, but there are two better fits I have in mind.
ONE is joining LeBron and the Lakers. He isn’t the sexiest co-star LeBron has ever had, but if a swap could be centred around Lonzo Ball and John Wall then this L.A. team would quickly increase their contending chances out West. It doesn’t seem like Magic and his Lakers pals are in any hurry to add another star next to Bron, so my guess is they pass on this deal too. Leaving only one.
IF you are facing the prospect of losing a top-5 NBA player in the near future, how can you best put yourself in a position to keep said player? Simply put you can add more talent. That concept is something that has escaped the New Orleans Pelicans front office as their failed variety of lineups, trades and other personnel changes have led to just two playoff appearance in the past five years. Therefore, landing a big fish in John Wall might be a step that Dell Demps needs to take in order to keep Anthony Davis a Pelican.
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IT would be tough for Demps to package together a deal that forces Washington’s hand, but if they add a few picks along with the contracts of Soloman Hill and maybe Julius Randle, an acceptable trade could be found. A worst case scenario from a Pelicans’ perspective would involve them giving up a ton of assets only to see Davis walk anyway. Should that come to fruition then at least NOLA owns an All-Star level point guard, albeit an expensive and potentially declining one. New Orleans could try to pry away another player in a John Wall deal with some chatter revolving around Otto Porter heading to ‘The Big Easy’, but let’s not forget about Bradley Beal either.
IF I was running an NBA team you can bet your bottom dollar that I would be trying to acquire Beal 10 times before I pick up the phone and question Wall’s availability. Three years his junior, Beal offers a bunch more upside and might actually be the better player right now. Yeah, I said it. Although, if that is the case, then Beal might be the player to base a rebuild around, potentially the path that the Wizards want to take. If they really want to move on and take a rebuild seriously, then Beal has to go as well.
ACCORDING to Woj, Washington shares a similar sentiment with anyone currently on their roster up for grabs. A plethora of young, rebuilding teams who are eager to add another exciting piece could enter the Brad Beal sweepstakes. Sacramento, Dallas, Brooklyn, or even Charlotte are just a few that jump to mind as teams who could be intrigued by the thought of adding the scoring two-guard to their mix.
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THERE are some contending teams that could make a move for Beal to strengthen their championship credentials as well, including the aforementioned Lakers and Pelicans. Another contending West team that should call the Wizards right away is the OKC Thunder, who could legitimise their title chances by landing Beal. A team that ranks dead last in 3-point shooting percentage could use Beal as a floor spacer and deep threat and giving up some type of package involving Dennis Schroder, Alex Abrines, Patrick Patterson, Andre Roberson or Jerami Grant could work for both sides.
WITH Schroder the main asset in this trade, a deal for Beal would likely be made following John Wall’s departure. It’s not impossible that the Wizards try to play Wall and Schroder together, should a deal be reached, but it seems improbable. If Washington has no problem trading within their conference though, then the Philadelphia 76ers could legitimately complete the process by dealing for Beal and perhaps letting go of Reddick/Fultz walk? OK too far…
AS a Cavs fan I found out quickly what losing a superstar (twice) can do to your team. Rock bottom isn’t a fun place, but there’s only one way your team can move. Up. As it stands right now, Washington is currently 5-11 and is projected to finish with the 4th overall pick in next years draft. If trading Wall and/or Beal gave them a better chance of landing a top-3 pick in this draft, then it’s a move the Wiz have to make. Trading John Wall could net them an extra first-round pick, which, if they end up with say the 9th overall selection, could be packaged together to land a true blue-chip prospect.
EITHER way, it’s clear ‘this’ chapter in the Washington Wizards’ history is running on fumes, with an end nearing closer by the day. Finding a trade partner for Wall and/or Beal might prove to be harder given the salary cap strain everyone is experiencing this year leaving the team in an awkward position. One thing is for sure, Washington needs to avoid treading water and hovering around midtable prolonging the inevitable decline. Brace yourselves Wizards fans, moving into the next phase might be a painful, lengthy process, but there are no other options.
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