[Editor’s Note: Recently, some folks at the site got into a good discussion about what the Wizards could do at the trade deadline if they decided to make their 2017 first round pick available in a trade. While it’s an idea that most of us are not in favor of, it led to a good discussion that’s worth bringing to the site at large. Here’s that discussion, reprinted for your enjoyment. -Jake]
Ben Becker: To be clear, this is not a strategy I advocate given (a) the overall talent of the team and (b) the reported strength of this draft. But maybe the hype around the draft gives the pick more value and Ernie can pull of something higher impact that we'd expect.
Part of the issue is that the salary cap ballast that the Wiz would could out -- Smith, Nicholson, Mahinmi -- is so undesirable. If Mahinmi were healthy and productive, you could see Portland wanting him; but no way now.
Names we have seen bandied include Will Barton and Rudy Gay (though I think that was just speculation). Other potential targets: Tony Allen, Vince Carter. PJ Tucker, Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans, James Johnson, ZBo, Ilyasova....
Are there higher impact targets within reasonable reach -- Ibaka, Millsap, etc?
Mike Prada: Someone like Bojan Bogdanovic seems very Ernie.
Marcus Atkinson Sr.: Brandon Knight might fit on this list.
Nick Bilka: I am not sure the players the Wizards would want, but I imagine a team like the Nets, Heat or Mavs would be desperate for a pick. Could they give a decent player for a pick and take on Nicholson?
I think the problem with Gay/Allen/Carter/Z-Bo/Evans is they all play on teams with playoff aspirations which would be a problem if the Wizards didn't send a good player back.
Mike Sykes: I'm so afraid to watch Ernie pull the trigger on anything at this point. Unless its a salary dump, I don’t know if it’s a good thing.
Ben Becker: Of course it's not a good thing, but it's the world we live in Mike!
Quinten Rosborough: If the Wiz are only trading the first, I could also see the Wizards grabbing a big from Denver, Atlanta or Philly, or a wing from Portland or Phoenix. EG's got history with Denver, Atlanta and Phoenix, so I'd put players on those teams at the top of my list.
The list gets more interesting if we assume the team is afraid of paying Otto. I'd imagine Otto + 1st could start conversations with some teams tooling up for a playoff run, Oklahoma City, Clippers, and perhaps Utah?
Mike Sykes: If Otto Porter goes anywhere I quit on this team.
Sam Rinde: I;d be devastated as a fan, but at this point, he is likely far and away the most valuable asset this team has, right?
Nick Bilka: Other than Wall, yes. But Oubre would seem to be an asset as well.
Mike Sykes: No, but on a serious note, I think they probably will look at trading him. But that's just not what smart teams do. He's a top 10 small forward in the league, plays both ends, doesn't use many possessions offensively and is so crafty on the glass.
If they didn't put so much money into this trashy bench they wouldn't have any problems paying him.
Ben Becker: Trading Otto together with the first doesn't really make sense.
Trading Otto would make the Wizards appreciably worse on the floor immediately. So he'd need to bring back a really good player. If you're adding the pick you need to net a star. Just don't see it.
Quinten Rosborough: I love Otto, I just don't see how the Wizards will be able to add talent once he's locked in to a long-term deal.
Sam Rinde: When do good free agents that don't cost a lot think to themselves, "This starting unit has consistently proven that it's elite, if I round out their bench, we could contend."
Along with Oubre/Saty’s development, it's one of the only ways we get better, IMO.
Ben Becker: Otto's cap hold is one of the most valuable assets the Wizards have.
Loooong shot, but let's say the Wizards new GM -- let's call him Ham Sinky -- can entice Blake Griffin with a MAX deal after LAC's season inevitably implodes. They could attach some salary (Nicholson and/or Smith) to Beal and trade them into someone's cap space (Philly, Brooklyn, etc) in order to create requisite room for Blake. Effectively, they'd be trading Beal and filler for Blake (which is a huge upgrade) and retain Otto.
Trading Otto presents no such opportunity because his cap hold is so much smaller than Beal's actual salary.
Mike Sykes: The Clippers probably wouldn't agree to doing that at this point. Probably.
Bullet Nation in Exile: That would be the most Ernie move ever.
Quinten Rosborough: My larger point is that I have a hard time seeing Otto's cap hold being all that helpful because a difference-maker like Blake isn't taking a 4-year max and $30 mil+ discount to switch teams. Wiz are going to have to trade for that kind of talent.
Mike Sykes: That's a fair point, but I think it's pretty unlikely that trading Porter gets you a shot at that kind of talent. And if you're trading him for space to get a potential star player, don't you have to take the new CBA into account then too?
I think it's best to just let this play out. Somebody would be leaving, what, $70 mil on the table? But Durant left lots of money on the table this offseason if I'm not mistaken. Dwight Howard did it as well when he left LA. Money always comes first, but there are other factors that are going to play into their decision making as well.
Porter isn't a true star talent, but he's their second best player and only 23 years old with lots of room to grow. I just don't think you can trade a player like that in today's NBA. I think the same is true for Beal in some respects, and he's even younger than Porter.
Marcus Atkinson Sr.: As much as I hate to say it, this team has to do something. I think staying pat and signing Otto to a large contract is a huge mistake. That's not to say Otto is bad, but I don't see how you can reasonably improve to a contender doing that. They have to find a way to improve this roster in spite of their bad contracts and unfortunately it seems like they will have to pair an asset with a bad contract to move the needle a bit.
Quinten Rosborough: I agree with Marcus, the Wiz have really painted themselves into a corner here. This summer is the only time they'll have a shot at signing a big UFA before Wall's contract is up, and the only semi-realistic target is Blake Griffin. If they miss on him, they're stuck with the Wall/Beal/Otto combo with no real tradeable assets outside of Oubre and maybe Sato if he gets more aggressive offensively.
Otto's a max player without a doubt, but unless the Wizards think this squad is good enough to keep Wall from walking, I think they have to shake the team up.
Ben Becker: It's a safe bet -- or at least a reasonable hope -- that Mahinmi, Satoransky, and Oubre will collectively improve over the next year. McClellan has been half decent and may belong in that group too. Who knows if House or Ochefu will become anything, though I know some analytics-types that had a late first/early second grade on Ochefu.
Smith stinks, but he's pretty inexpensive, and after this season could be stretched for $2M/yr over the next 5 years -- less than 2 percent of the cap.
That would leave only Nicholson as both completely miscast/role-less for this roster and with an undesirable contract.
That is a long-winded way of saying that as much as I dislike how Ernie evaluates players and disagree with so many of the decisions on how this roster was put together, the Wizards’ wisest strategy may just be letting everyone get better. Wall/Beal/Otto still have some collective upside. Gortat and Morris are unlikely to get worse over the next year.
With some health and luck, the Wizards could run it back and be a materially better team -- maybe on the good side of mediocre. That's not inspiring, but it's probably a better position to deal from than where they are right now.