Countdown to the NBA Draft: Wizards trade targets, Central Division

USA TODAY Sports

In today's edition of the Countdown, we're moving on to the Central Division, examining possible Wizards trade targets for the No. 3 pick in the draft.

The second edition of Wizards Trade Targets takes a peek at the Central Division, where the trade prospects get a little more interesting. All of these teams are cap-healthy, and most have some pretty big decisions looming in the next few seasons as they continue to build. But there are definitely more enticing options than the Atlantic Division.

First up is the Central Division winner, the Indiana Pacers:

  • Paul George? Roy Hibbert? NOPE.
  • Unless you're willing to deal the 3rd pick and Bradley Beal for Paul George. See above.
  • Danny Granger plays small forward, a position of future uncertainty for the Wizards, and his name is required mention for trade talks. Martell Webster's possible re-signing does not fully answer this question. Granger is on an expiring contract and the Pacers are quite cap-healthy for a contender. Indiana can command a significant return for him, should they choose to trade him ... and there's no sure indication they're considering it. Especially when the Wiz can't offer much help at the 1 or the 4.
  • Power forward is potentially a big black hole of need for Indiana. David West is a free agent again, which means six more weeks of spring. A new wrinkle is both Tyler Hansbrough and Jeff Pendergraph are facing their qualifying offer with neither performing well this past season. Even if the Pacers get cute and try to swap Granger for Josh Smith in a sign-and-trade, they're still missing a viable backup at the 4 and the Wiz just happen to have an army. The draft being a wasteland at power forward helps the Pacers not at all.
  • Point guard is a serious issue as well. D.J. Augustin's contract is ending and I somehow doubt they want him back behind George Hill. A sign-and-trade for A.J. Price-redux would give me the chuckles, but the Wiz have no help to provide here. The draft offers some options at point guard, even at 23rd. Chauncey Billups manning the helm on a deep playoff run next season would contribute to an abiding sense of cosmic rightness, but I digress.

The No. 3 pick in the 2013 draft isn't enough to nab an established star and the Wizards don't have the assets to successfully augment such a package. Likewise, the Pacers can't put a package together for the pick without an established star. No market here for the No. 3 pick.

However, the free agent market for backup point guards is relatively solid, and with Indiana's need for a power forward, it could easily be an opportunity for Ernie Grunfeld to pick up a backcourt prospect in the late first while easing the personnel crunch in the frontcourt. But should the Pacers sign Psycho T to a two-year deal, they can sit tight and draft a power forward next year. It's difficult to imagine there's a move to be made in a one-on-one deal with Indiana.

Finishing second were the Chicago Bulls:

  • The Bulls, provided they re-sign Marco Belinelli, are fairly set for next season. They're into luxury tax territory, however, as Taj Gibson's extension kicks in. It's likely they'll hesitate before picking up Richard Hamilton's $5 million option. (Which may prove an interesting trade chip.)
  • A likely fringe contender next season, only Carlos Boozer is likely to be available. The combination of the offense he provides and the amount of money remaining on his contract makes it extremely unlikely the Wizards and Bulls would see eye-to-eye on his market value.
  • A Nene for Boozer swap might arouse interest in a few minority camps on either side, but lets not.

The Wizards should want no part of Marquis Teague, and unless they talk themselves into sending Trevor Ariza and the No. 3 pick for Richard Hamilton, Jimmy Butler and the 20th, I have a hard time imagining anything happening with Chicago.

Third place in Central were the Milwaukee Bucks:

  • The Bucks will have less cap space than you think, though they'll still have plenty. Samuel Dalembert and Mike Dunleavy are free agents; I expect J.J. Redick will be re-signed unless John Hammond just wanted to dump Tobias Harris for some reason. With Dunleavy possibly out the door, Hammond may be looking for some cheap depth at SF. Plenty of flexibility here, depending on what they do with their cap holds. Oh, and that Brandon Jennings guy.
  • Larry Sanders isn't going anywhere without excessive value going the other way. The Wiz don't have it outside of Bradley Beal and John Wall.
  • So, the Bucks have an army of power forwards, like the Wizards. Unlike the Wizards, the Bucks' players, by and large, have the size and skillset to play power forward. Ekpe Udoh's an intriguing defensive prospect here, and probably the closest thing the Bucks can offer of value approaching the No. 3 pick.
  • When it comes to sweeteners, Hammond can dangle both Gustavo Ayon and the 15th pick this year. The Bucks need to upgrade their star power to talk realistically about breaking out of playoff hell. This is also a team that has talked itself into some questionable moves and could easily do so again, especially if Ben McLemore is still on the board. Sanders and Udoh together don't bring much of anything on the offensive end, and they has to change for the Bucks to take the next step. Plus, John Henson is waiting in the wings and Luc Mbah a Moute is on the books for two more seasons.
  • A HUGE question here is what the Wizards think they have in Kevin Seraphin. If the front-office believes Udoh and Seraphin can cover each other's short-comings on opposite ends of the floor, there may be dealing to be done.

IF the Wizards front-office is sold on the possibilities of a Udoh-Seraphin combo: Ekpe Udoh, the 15th pick and Gustavo Ayon for the No. 3 pick, the 56th pick and Chris Singleton. This is a LOT of youth moving in both directions and such trades are rare. Have to admit I'd be interested to see what Randy Wittman and Don Newman could do with Udoh ...

Fourth-place finishers in 2012/13 Central were the Detroit Pistons:

  • Well, we'll hold our collective breath for Detroit to send us the No. 8 pick and Greg Monroe for the No. 3 pick and Trevor Booker. But until then, lets get a little more in depth, just for argument's sake.
  • Lawsy, when the Wizards lose a coin flip for ping pong balls, watch out. In 2010, the Wiz lost to the Warriors, slipped to fifth-best odds and won the right to draft John Wall. In 2013, the Wiz lost to the Pistons, slipped to eighth-best odds and nabbed No. 3, natch. Okay, so this entire point is off-topic. Fine.
  • Remember when Joe Dumars was handing out horrible contracts like candy? Well, that mess is finally clearing and, minus holds, they have just $35 million on the books this season, and just above $5.5 million the season after that. Yes, Monroe's contract extension will certainly take effect that year, but jeez. The Pistons cap situation is very healthy, but they find themselves in a bit of a quandary, needing upgrades at point guard and shooting guard, and a small forward to boot.
  • Victor Oladipo may very well fall to them, or he may not. But with a glut of quality small forwards and power forwards in next year's draft, the likelihood of being able to draft Shabazz Muhammed isn't sending anyone over the moon. With the No. 3 pick, the Pistons would be all but assured the chance of drafting either Ben McLemore or Trey Burke and adding a much needed piece on the backcourt.
  • Of course, it will take more than the No. 8 pick, and besides Monroe, the only player Detroit would be able to offer the Wizards is Brandon Knight. To be honest, I'd rather keep the No. 3 pick, maybe get that Eric Maynor guy and extend a training camp invite to Scott Machado.

Detroit can't really do better than offering Brandon Knight and the No. 8 pick for the No. 3. Knight can shoot the three, but if the Wiz are exchanging their lottery fortune for a backup point guard, I'd sooner look to the FA market. Unless Monroe miraculously appears on the block, I don't see a good move here for the Wizards.

Amin's already written on the notion of swapping with the Cleveland Cavaliers:

  • The Cavaliers are sending up a lot of smoke about who they might take with the first overall pick. As many arguments as can be made either way, in my mind this comes down to whether or not Chris Grant believes Nerlens Noel is a viable frontcourt partner for Tristan Thompson.
  • 'Hey now,' you say, 'the draft is about BPA, period. Fit be damned.' Yes and no. If a player's potential/current skill level clearly places them on another level, it's difficult to justify reaching for a position of need in the lottery, nevermind with the first pick in the draft. But Noel isn't in a class by himself. And for those who like to pretend it's him or Otto Porter, if Ben McLemore is an option for the Wizards, he's an option for the Cavs, as well. Thus Cleveland has the luxury of factoring fit into their draft decision.
  • Personally, if Thompson and Noel's defensive prowess and lack of offense don't fit together and you believe Noel is an NBA Center (signs point to yes), you probably deal the power forward, amirite? Except Thompson has made big strides this season, the Cavs love him and they have absolutely no inducement to trade him. They have the luxury of developing their crop of lottery picks without the pressure of immediate expectations or letting time do its work with a slew of bad contracts. They can afford to draft Noel and see what he is both on his own and next to Thompson as well, without needing to get cute with a trade.
  • Further reinforcing this notion are two tidbits: next year's draft, in which the Cavs may very well have another lottery pick, is heavy on both small forwards and power forwards. Chris Grant will have the option of drafting to fill the hole at small forward or an offensive-minded power forward in case, you know, small forward is occupied by LeBron James.

As attractive as Noel is, I don't think there's a trade to be made here.

More BF draft coverage:

  • Scouting reports: Trey Burke | Anthony Bennett | Alex Len | Nerlens Noel | Otto Porter | Ben McLemore | Shabazz Muhammad | Victor Oladipo | Allen Crabbe.
  • The role of coaching
  • Atlantic Division trade targets
  • Swap with Cavs?
  • Vote in the BF Draft Board.
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