The Washington Wizards are arguably the most disappointing team in the NBA to this point of the 2018-19 season, as they are 5-11 on the young season with only one win over a team currently projected to be in the playoffs — an overtime win against the Blazers in Portland.
The Blazers returned the favor in Washington on Sunday in a 119-109 loss for the Wizards that was more lopsided than the final score indicates. After the game, the quotes out of the Wizards locker room continue to paint the picture of a team in disarray, and on Monday reports came out from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that the phone lines were open in Washington and they would, at the least, listen to overtures for anyone on the roster including John Wall and Bradley Beal.
That’s a big deal because previously it was understood that Beal was off limits, but as things get more desperate in the nation’s capital, it’s becoming more and more clear they may need to simply blow it all up. However, that’s a much easier thing to say than accomplish, particularly factoring in the difficulty of getting proper value in return for your star players.
Trading Beal is the most likely way to get significant value back, but it’s also dealing the team’s most valuable asset and the player on the most favorable contract. Wall is the most difficult to deal, given his supermax extension that’s set to kick in next summer, making his value far less on the trade market because of what a team dealing for him has to assume with that contract. That doesn’t mean it’s not possible to deal him, using the Blake Griffin trade as a model, to a team that will otherwise have no chance at bringing in an All-Star caliber talent in the free agent market.
The Pistons aren’t a desirable free agent destination, so on the market they typically have to overpay to bring in someone, but you can’t overpay someone that’s going to get a max deal from elsewhere. Instead, you pounce when that team is underachieving and in need of a reset, which has worked well for the Clippers. Washington is in a similar position and there are teams out there with serious point guard needs and the cap flexibility going forward to take on a deal like Wall’s.
Phoenix has been a popular suggestion because of their clear need for a point guard, stated desire to begin competing now, and situation as one of those teams not likely to be a top destination in the near future. However, making money work is tricky, especially if the goal is to reset things for the immediate future in Washington and have the opportunity, should they so choose, to make a run at free agents this summer. Trevor Ariza can help make money work once his contract is allowed to be dealt, but considering the Wizards’ roster is already filled with wings like Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre Jr., the Suns best assets they’d trade all being small forwards (Josh Jackson, Mikal Bridges, T.J. Warren, etc) doesn’t make for a great trade fit.