SB Nation NBA's sites are doing a mock draft this season where representatives from each team site act as the GM for their team. As the Wizards' rep this season, I've been doing a little bit of experimenting to gauge the league's interest on the one trade package the Wizards can offer to improve in the short-term without breaking up the team's young core.
Early in the process, I made it clear that I was willing to listen to offers for Nene and the Wizards' first round pick (19th overall). To date, I've received some interesting offers, but there's one offer I worked out with Dave Deckard at Blazers Edge I wanted to discuss here, because I think it makes for a good discussion. Here's the deal:
Washington receives: Arron Afflalo, Chris Kaman
Portland receives: Nene, Wizards' first round pick in the 2015 NBA Draft
The reason we can discuss this deal openly is because we can't actually make this deal in the mock draft. Arron Afflalo has a player option for the 2015-16 season, so unless he makes it official that he's opting in before draft night, Portland can't include him on a draft day trade.
For the sake of our discussion, let's assume Afflalo decides to opt-in and collect the $7,937,500 he's due for the 2015-16 season. Here's the case for why each side makes the deal.
Why Portland does it: Via Dave Deckard at Blazers Edge:
Though he's not the player he once was, Nene still has gas left in the tank and could play both power forward and center positions for the Blazers. His inside-first offensive attack might hamper him at forward, but he retains enough mobility at the other end to put a new wrinkle in Portland's center defense,
Nene would be filling Kaman's role as a reserve center. Afflalo's departure makes way for CJ McCollum at reserve shooting guard. The Blazers might not employ either Kaman or Afflalo after the coming season as it is.
The 19th pick replaces the one Portland traded away to get Afflalo. It could be used, packaged with other assets in a deal for a veteran, or combined with Pick #23 in a trade to move up in the draft (assuming again that Afflalo stays with his current contract).
Why Washington does it: Naturally, there's an initial gag reflex to any trade idea suggesting the Wizards trade a first round pick for two veterans, but unlike 2009, I think the Wizards are in the right situation this time around to make this type of deal.
Most importantly, the 19th pick in this year's draft is much less valuable than the fifth overall pick in 2009. It's a safe bet there will be players available who could go on to have good careers, but the risk of missing out on a foundational player at that point in the draft is much lower. And even if you find a player who is more valuable than their draft slot, it's still a moot point because the Wizards would still wind up trading the pick next summer to add veteran depth around Kevin Durant, or whoever else the Wizards acquire in free agency. Whether it's now or next summer, there's a good chance the Wizards use this year's pick to improve the supporting cast for when they plan to reach true contender status. And if that's the case, why risk letting their pick depreciate when you can get a good return right now?
Arron Afflalo had some struggles last year as Denver floundered and he struggled to adjust to a new role in Portland, but he would be an immediate upgrade off the bench, and he would be going into a contract year. He's a career 38.5 percent shooter from beyond the arc and he also a respectable ballhandler, which would take some pressure off of Wall and Beal to handle all the playmaking for the Wizards.
The trade also allows the Wizards to upgrade at center next season with Kaman without breaking the bank. The Wizards would only be spending a little over a million more than they did on Kevin Seraphin this season to get someone demonstrably better to back up Marcin Gortat.
In the short term, the Wizards upgrade next season and make themselves a more appealing free agent destination. And if it's still not enough to convince a max player to come to Washington, the Wizards have a better shot at keeping Afflalo and Kaman around if they already have them rather than trying to pry them away from someone else in free agency.
It may not be a sexy trade, but the Wizards need to be open to bundling Nene and their pick to find solutions that allow them to address spots where they need to upgrade. Even though this trade may not potentially work, there's lot of expiring deals this season that allow the Wizards to upgrade without risking long-term commitment, as long as they're willing to sacrifice an asset they may not be committed to long-term.