There are two dates on ever NBA fan's calendar that should be circled in red every year: December 15th and the third Thursday in February. The latter is trade deadline day. The former is when everyone obtained during the off-season can be traded.
OK, OK. Maybe you've got other dates circled on your NBA calendar. Fine. But I FREAKIN' LOVE TRADES. Some are horrible. Some are amazing. Some are meh-tastic. And rarely are they even for both sides. But they are fun as hell to read about.
Nothing stirs up emotion within a fanbase and among fanbases like players and assets changing hands. Oh, you didn't know your team valued short-term over long-term gain? Oh, you thought your team could actually make the playoffs and somehow draft a difference-maker at the end of the first round? LET THE CONFUSION FLY!
That brings me to the Wizards. Typically, teams occupy three roles during trade season: buyers, sellers, and wheel-greasers. Buyers have to have players they're willing to give up that other teams need, sellers have to need players and have cap space/players/assets to deal, and wheel-greasers have to help fill in the gaps, but always need to get more than they gave. They've got to be a little bit buyer and a little bit seller (very Donny and Marie, I know).
HOWEVER: the Wizards, as it stands, fit none of these categories.
They'd like to be buyers, but there's not really anyone that they're willing to give up that anyone else needs.
They could be sellers, but again, there's not much they're not using that others want, you know?
And wheel-greasers? Yeah, that's not looking too good either.
Here's the issue: the Wizards had three great trade chips this year: Emeka Okafor's defense + veteranship + contract, Trevor Ariza's two-way play + veteranship + contract, and their 2014 first round pick. Two of those things are gone, and one of them is so intertwined with the Wizards' success this year that its removal could prove disastrous. Personally, I really like Ariza's fit with the team, but he is essentially the only thing on this team that could prove to be an attractive get for other teams. I can't imagine any other team finding him as useful as Washington does, though, so any plans discussed below should be taken with a big-ol' grain of salt. And Trevor, if you're reading this, I'm sorry.
Alas, we are now left with discussing needs and hypothetical trades.
Need 1: Bench scoring
Aside from Martell Webster's 30-point outburst last night, bench scoring has been lackluster at best. While it seems that bench players that fill in for injured starters play well (Hi, Trevor Booker!), that success doesn't seem to translate to high-energy bench play. To wit, the Wizards bench scored FIVE points against the Nuggets last week. Two more points, and the Wizards would have won. I mean, yeesh.
Need 2: A backup point guard that can help take the pressure off John Wall
Last year, the Wizards brought in A.J Price to handle the team when Wall was off the court. While he wasn't a perfect fit for the second unit, I don't think I was the only one who was kind of surprised when the Wizards didn't bring him back this year. Instead, they opted for Eric Maynor. He had a lot of success at VCU, and he played well backing up Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City. Then, he got injured. And he started to not be as good. Blazers fans saw this, and Wizards fans are starting to see this now. While Maynor was brought in to bring a chance of pace to the Wizards second unit, it is clear that he's taken a few steps back since his injury and is currently not fulfilling the backup-floor-general role for which he was recruited.
Need 3: Salary relief in 2014 that can be parlayed into a legitimate addition to help this team compete and make a name for itself
By bringing in Marcin Gortat (who expires this year) and not picking up the rookie contract options on Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton, the Wizards have essentially the same amount of cap space they would have had in July 2014 had they kept Emeka Okafor. However, re-signing Gortat (which doesn't seem unlikely) will absorb a good amount of that space, and the leftover money may not be enough to bring aboard a difference-maker in free agency.
Hypothetical Trade 1: Trevor Ariza and Otto Porter for Luol Deng
Needs met: 1 and 3
This is a pretty direct trade. You swap Trevor Ariza two-way play and Otto Porter's untapped potential for Luol Deng's two-way play and his big ol' contract that expires in July. The Wizards would certainly miss Ariza's corner 3s and the chemistry he's built with the team, but Deng is a very good player (especially on defense), and he's got over $14 million coming off the books this summer. Chicago seems like it's about ready to move in a direction that's not as Derrick Rose-dependent as it is now.
The biggest thing holding back the Wizards for this trade, I'd assume, is whether they think they'd want to rock the boat to do this trade AND trade Porter, who'll likely be a serviceable NBA player for years to come. (Oh, and if the Wizards want more for this deal, they should ask for Nazr Mohammed and maybe throw a 2nd-rounder at Chicago for him. He'd be handy in the frontcourt rotation just by virtue of being a very tall human body.)
Hypothetical Trade 2: Trevor Ariza, Chris Singleton, and Garrett Temple for Kyle Lowry and Landry Fields
Needs met: 1, 2, and 3
If Toronto is in full let's-stink-it-up-and-get-some-stuff mode, then hopefully this trade can help them and help the Wizards at the same time. Lowry would be exceedingly useful for the Wizards' second unit, and he could play alongside Wall or Beal while the other gets a rest. Hell, a small lineup of the three of them would give the forwards a rest. Taking Fields off Toronto's hands would be the only way I could see getting Lowry, and in Washington, Fields would become a defender off the bench. Ariza, Singleton, and Temple would give Toronto some salary relief this year. I assume Toronto wants a pick, so why don't we toss in a 2nd-rounder or some previously-stashed-prospects?
Hypothetical Trade 3: Trevor Ariza, Otto Porter, and Al Harrington for Greg Monroe, Charlie Villanueva, and Will Bynum.
Needs met: 1, 2, and 3
The Wizards get a big man, a spacing shooter, and a cannonball disguised as a scoring guard off the bench. Detroit gets a veteran to help continue all those youngsters' maturations alongside Chauncey Billups, they get small forward to pair with Drummond to allow them to grow together and they free themselves from figuring out what they're supposed to do with Monroe's contract this year when they have Drummond.
What's the likelihood any of these trades happens?
Pretty low. Like I said, the Wizards don't have a ton of things to offer other teams. And the only things they do have to offer other teams with which I'd assume they'd consider parting ways is actually really important to this team's success this year and into the postseason (hopefully!). I think Trevor Ariza's sticking around this season, and I'm pretty OK with that.
But what about you? Would you do any of these trades? What are some of your trade ideas? Drop them in the comments.
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