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Wizards trade options: Examining the value of Washington’s starters

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NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Washington Wizards Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

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!” While the Wizards probably won’t be looking to trade anyone from their dynamite starting lineup, we should at least consider what each of their starters would be worth if a good trade offer came along.

John Wall

Lets first start by saying that Wall will NOT get traded. There is 0 chance of this happening. He’s an All-Star on a playoff team. The Wizards have no reason to trade him.

He does have a value, however. Every player does. So let’s just talk for a moment about what it would take to get him. The only teams that would even consider trading for an All-Star like Wall are teams contending for the title. Very few of these teams have the assets it would take to trade for Wall without trading one of their own stars.

The only team that would maybe have the assets to make the Wizards think about doing something this ludicrous would be the Boston Celtics. They have a deep roster, tons of future first round picks (the Nets’ 2017 and 2018 first round picks, the Grizzlies’ 2019 first round pick, and the Clippers’ 2019 first round pick), and solid young players. The only offer that might make the Wizards do this would be something like:

Celtics receive: John Wall

Wizards receive: Jaylen Brown, Avery Bradley, Terry Rozier, and either both of Boston’s picks from the Nets or one of the Nets’ picks and the Clippers’ pick.

That trade works with salaries, but no way either team wants to do this because John Wall has been arguably the best point guard in the league this year and the Celtics already have Isaiah Thomas.

Bradley Beal

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Washington Wizards Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Beal just signed a five-year deal with the Wizards, so it is also extremely unlikely he gets traded. He has finally avoided missing extended time due to injury this season (knock on wood) and he’s putting up career-best numbers. He’s very valuable to the Wizards.

That said, his value is a little harder to define than Wall’s. Being injury prone drags down a players value quite a bit (just look at Stephen Curry’s current contract), so Beal may be worth less than his on-court value would suggest.

Like Wall, there is no chance he gets traded for rebuilding assets. Maybe if the Celtics offered the same trade for Beal that I made up for Wall (minus a draft pick or two because he isn’t worth as much) the Wizards would think about it, but it’s doubtful.

Beal’s value gets a little more interesting as part of a deal to acquire someone better than him. Here’s an example

Bulls receive: Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, and Kelly Oubre Jr.

Wizards receive: Jimmy Butler, Rajon Rondo

Let’s hope this one doesn’t happen. The Wizards would be giving up a lot here to get Butler. They would also be taking on Rondo’s contract, which isn’t ideal, but necessary to make the salaries work. Would having Butler instead of those 3 guys make the Wizards better? Not once you factor in Butler’s age and injury history. So this won’t happen, but now that DeMarcus Cousins is off the trade block, this is probably the best package the Wizards could get if they shopped Beal. It still isn’t worth it for Washington.

Otto Porter

As we discussed in another piece a couple weeks ago, the difficulty with trading Porter now is that his salary is only $5.9 million. The Wizards are over the cap, so they can only receive 150 percent +$100,000 salary in a trade with Porter. Essentially the maximum salary that could be received for Porter is $8.9 million. There aren’t many players with Otto’s skills and potential playing on a deal that cheap. Your only hope would be to trade for someone else on a rookie contract or for future picks.

On top of this, Otto Porter is going to require an expensive contract extension this summer. It is unlikely any team wants to give up a good young player or picks just to acquire Otto Porter as he gets expensive. There is essentially no trade for Porter that makes sense for both teams, so unless some team makes a crazy offer for him, Otto will stay with the Wizards.

Markieff Morris

NBA: Washington Wizards at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

If you read our recent roundtable on that Markieff Morris trade, you saw that his value still varies depending on who you ask. That said, there’s no question Morris is playing the best basketball of his career right now. His value is as high as it has ever been. Even though the Wizards have only had him for one year, they may be able to get some quality assets for him.

Right now, Morris is probably the Wizards’ most tradeable starter. He is approaching his prime, on a cheap contract, and has two more years on his current deal after this season. Almost any team would like to have his production given his price tag.

Using the trade rules that also applied to Otto Porter, the most salary that could be received for Morris is $11.2 million. So what would be equal value for him?

The Wiz gave up two players who hardly played for them and a top-9 protected first round pick for him last year. The return the Wizards would want for him now would likely be slightly higher. My guess would be they would want a first rounder AND a solid young player on a good contract. Some guys that come to mind are Willy Hernangomez, Deyonta Davis, Domantas Sabonis, or Malcolm Brogdon. It will be interesting to see if any team attempts to make a play for Morris, but it’s hard to imagine Washington .

Marcin Gortat

Gortat has been awesome for the Wizards. He is arguably the best screener in the NBA and is a great finisher around the rim. His defense is slightly below average, but his offense more than makes up for it. The two problems with trading Gortat would be his age and his position.

There is an abundance of centers around the league, so not many teams need one. Most contenders, if they want to add a center at all, would want a rim protector instead of an offensive center.

He is also 32 and has a $12+ million per year contract that goes up over the next two seasons. He is worth that contract now, but will anyone want to pay a 35 year old Marcin Gortat $13.5 million in 2019? Probably not.

There aren’t many trades that make sense for Gortat, but like Van Gundy said, for the right price maybe it could happen. Swapping Gortat for a younger center, or maybe one on a more favorable contract, may be something the Wizards could look into. Here are two very extreme examples.

Mavericks receive: Marcin Gortat

Wizards receive: Andrew Bogut, Dallas’ 2017 2nd round pick, Golden State’s 2019 2nd round pick (which Dallas acquired in the Bogut trade last summer)

Bogut offers a similar skillset to Gortat. His contract also expires at the end of the season. The Wizards could make this trade if they want the draft picks and don’t want to lose too much talent this season. The Mavericks get a veteran center to play through their rebuild.

This trade probably won’t happen though, as Gortat is significantly better than Bogut and has great chemistry with the Wizards starters. Let’s look at something else.

76ers receive: Marcin Gortat, Kelly Oubre Jr., and Washington’s 2018 2nd round pick

Wizards receive: Nerlens Noel

This trade is interesting. It’s no secret the Sixers have tried to get rid of Noel all season. Gortat gives them a center to teach Embiid some off-ball skills, and be a solid backup to him while he thrives. Oubre gives Philly a young wing with upside at a position where they could use some extra help.

Noel gives the Wizards a young rim protector with tremendous upside who could be the center of the future for the Wizards. The only probably would be him and Mahinmi have similar skill sets, and the Wizards would have to pay Noel this summer. However, with Gortat off the books, that would be more manageable.