The Wizards are inching closer to the trade deadline and just like many teams around them in the standings, there will be a push to do something to make the team better. The issue is, the Wizards have a lot of undesirable contracts that will be hard to move at the trade deadline. Given that, the Wizards’ best shot at improving the team without sacrificing a major future asset might be to try to swap one of their bad deals with someone else’s and hope they’ll fare better in Washington.
The Wizards executed a deal like this back at the 2015 deadline when they traded Andre Miller, who had fallen out of the team’s rotation, to the Sacramento Kings for Ramon Sessions, who struggled to find a role with the Kings after signing with them the previous summer. The move worked out well for Washington as they turned a non-contributor into someone who ended up playing big minutes in the Wizards’ playoff run that season.
Here are a few candidates who could make sense for Washington if they’re looking to make a similar move this season:
Possible Trade Offer: Marcus Thornton/Trey Burke, Future 2nd Round Pick
The Wizards have struggled to find a facilitator for the second unit and Jones could give the team the boost they need. He has a lot of similarities to Trey Burke, but the one thing that sets him apart is that he has thrived at his ability to make plays for others in limited time. He is a good pick and roll guard, who has the ability to shoot the ball. He will be under contract at a low price for a few more years so he would allow the Wizards to bring Tomas Satoransky around at a slow pace and can even match them together and use Jones off the ball. Of course, this would mean the Wizards would have to find a way to move Burke as well, either in the same trade or in another trade.
Jones has been used sparingly this season for the Wolves. He has only played in 22 of the Wolves’ 41 games. He is playing behind Ricky Rubio, who is signed for another two years, and rookie point guard Kris Dunn, who is considered the future starting point guard for their team. There are simply not enough minutes going forward for Jones. The Wolves could be best served acquiring a future draft pick to use down the road instead of Jones collecting DNPs.
Tim Hardaway Jr.
Possible Trade Offer: Marcus Thornton, Daniel Ochefu/Sheldon McClellan, Future 2nd Round Pick
Hardaway has been a good bench player for Atlanta, but the Hawks are reportedly exploring his value before he hits free agency this summer. The Wizards would get a player who is averaging double digits coming off the bench for Atlanta, which would already make him the team's best weapon off the bench. He could take some minutes in place of Marcus Thornton and provide the team's only other viable three point shooter outside of Bradley Beal and Otto Porter. The only concern that the Wizards would have is they would have to pay for an extension at the end of the season, but if he is your long-term sixth man, then the bill may be worth it.
Possible Trade Offer: Marcin Gortat, Future 2nd Round Pick
The Wizards are still in the bottom half in the league defensively, and given the emphasis that Coach Scott Brooks has made for the team to improve that part of their game, a shakeup may be needed. Although the defensive issues certainly aren't all on Gortat, having a more athletic and defensive oriented player like Derrick Favors would give the Wizards a more viable rim protector, who still has a solid offensive game.
Mahinmi was thought to provide that sort of rim protection, but injuries have kept him from doing that this season. Favors would provide some of that ability, and bring some more offensive polish as well. He is also signed through next year, so the Wizards would still have a full year of Favors next year. Even if things don’t work out with Favors being traded to the Wizards, swapping Gortat out for Favors would clear some salary prior to Wall’s last year under his current contract.
Favors has had some injury issues himself and hasn’t been a great fit next to Rudy Gobert. They both are ‘traditional’ bigs, who thrive closer to the basket. The Jazz also have to consider the massive contract extension they will need to give Gordon Hayward this offseason in order to keep him and decide if they will be able to afford Hayward, Gobert, Rodney Hood - who is due an extension next year too - and Favors. If they are unwilling to extend all four, then the Wizards could have an opportunity to make an offer. It is also possible that the Jazz will let this situation play out until after the season, when they have a definitive answer to if they will be able to keep Hayward.
Currently, Derrick Favors is not only the team’s starting power forward, he is the team’s primary back up center. The only other center on the roster is Jeff Withey - a player who has only averaged 11 minutes per game in his four year career. By getting Gortat in return they would have a great back up center who has two more seasons remaining on his contract, who provides playoff experience to their already young core and allows them to not have to commit another $20+ million to another front court player. In addition, the idea of an extra draft pick would give them the opportunity to add some inexpensive depth to their roster to supplement their core.
Possible Trade Offer: Andrew Nicholson, Marcus Thornton, Trey Burke
Brandon Knight is having a terrible year thus far and he is signed for another 3 years. It is hard to imagine the Suns will be able to trade his bad contract for anything other than another team's bad salaries in return, unless they find a team under the cap that is willing to absorb his deal.
In the spirit of this conversation, think about how bad Ramon Sessions was prior to the trade that brought him here to DC. He was shooting 34 percent from the field and only 21 percent from three. The Wizards took a gamble hoping Sessions could get out of his rut in a new situations, but it worked. That would be the same hope in making this trade.
In this deal, the Wizards are swapping out the last three years of Nicholson’s deal for the last three years of Knights. It’s a risk because you pay more over that time, but you also get a player who has shown more capability to produce than Nicholson, and you get someone who is capable of playing with both Wall and Beal. In the long term, you could pair him off the ball next to Tomas Satoransky for the next few years and put together a solid bench rotation.
You also open up two more roster slots for this season, which can allow you to sign one of those unsigned free agents left out there or perhaps even a player who clears waivers after the trade deadline with one of your salary exceptions.