It’s February, which means the NBA trade deadline is right around the corner. Historically, most moves happen close to the trade deadline. Teams want to know what they have and evaluate how strong their assets are for as long as possible before making a deal. It’s no secret how it all works, the contenders try to make trades that give their team a better chance at the title, and everyone else makes trades to try to get future assets, draft picks, or cut some salary.
Every team has a number of options on the table. As Stan Van Gundy once said, “Everyone in the league is available for the right price!” With that in mind, let’s look at some players that could be available at the deadline, and what it would take for the Wizards to get them. Next up: Brook Lopez
The Nets aren’t going anywhere fast these days, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Brooklyn shopped their big man before the deadline, especially to get some much-needed draft picks for the future. Problem is, Brook Lopez makes $21.1 million this season and $22.6 million next season. The money itself isn’t a big issue for Brooklyn, considering the Nets are under the cap, but it makes it harder for other teams to put together trade packages to absorb his salary. In order to make a deal work for Washington, a trade would have to look something like this:
Washington receives: Brook Lopez
Brooklyn receives: Marcin Gortat, Andrew Nicholson, Washington’s 2017 first round pick
Lopez would give the Wizards a more dynamic scoring option in the low post and can also space the floor out to the three point line. He’d take the Wizards’ offense to an even higher level. Plus, he’d allow the Wizards to shed Nicholson’s long-term deal.
Here’s the problem: The Wizards would suffer drastically on the rebounding front. Lopez is averaging 5.6 rebounds per 36 minutes less than Gortat this season. On the offensive end alone, Gortat snags 1.5 more offensive rebounds per game.
Lopez blocks more shots than Gortat, but otherwise, he’s big downgrade defensively. He isn’t as mobile, so he would struggle when switching onto perimeter players. His poor rebounding would allow opposing teams to create more second chance opportunities against an already vulnerable defense.
Plus, some of Lopez’s advantages on the offensive end would be mitigated as part of a smaller role in Washington. He’s a solid scorer, but how many touches and shots do you want him taking from John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, and Markieff Morris? It’s not like the Wizards need a big jolt on the offensive end. The starting unit is averaging 112.7 points per 100 possessions, more than the Clippers’ average with Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Luc Mbah A Moute, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan on the floor together.
I wouldn’t touch this move with a ten-foot pole if I were the Wizards because of the synergy this starting five has with one another. Lopez would disrupt the team’s chemistry as he adjusts to a new role, and he would either not help or actively hurt the team in other areas. The deal is already problematic before you even get to the part about throwing in a first round pick. His game is nice, but it’s a luxury on a team whose biggest weaknesses are on the defensive end.