One of the common criticisms with Wizards trades is that the transaction itself is usually good, but the process that leads to the deal is often bad. So, for example, trading Tim Frazier for a 52nd overall pick is a solid deal, but selling the 2014 second round pick the team could have used to draft him as a rookie was not good. Nor was it good to trade a 2021 second round pick to get Trey Burke when they could have signed Frazier on a cheaper deal without giving up a pick.
However, what usually gets left out in trade analysis and evaluation is the potential ramifications on future roster construction, and in this case, that plays an important part in the discussion. Washington is preparing to enter a very tricky offseason where they need to upgrade their bench, but have very few resources with which to do so.
Let’s start by talking about the backcourt. If we assume Frazier is coming in to be Wall’s primary backup, what happens to Tomas Satoransky? Keep in mind, the team is paying him more than Frazier, and he was acquired with a higher pick than Frazier. Washington needs him to be more useful than last season if the bench stands any chance of getting better.
Based on Ernie Grunfeld and Scott Brooks’ comments to CSN Mid-Atlantic, they don’t seem to think it should be much of an issue:
Grunfeld: "Tomas is a versatile player who can play two or three different positions and competition is good. He has a year of experience under his belt. He can play the point, he can play two and he can play three, so I don’t think that will affect him too much. But competition is good among your players."
Brooks: "I think his best asset is that he can play multiple positions. I don’t want to say he’s a point guard or a two or a three. He has the ability to play all three. That can be a strength to our ballclub when he can do all those things. It’s going to take time, he is still developing."
Defensive versatility is good skill to have, but so is shooting. Satoransky is capable of guarding twos and threes, but he still has to keep other teams accountable on the offensive end to justify court time. It won’t be easy if he’s playing with Frazier. The two of them combined to shoot 49-165 (29.7 percent) from deep last season. Add in Kelly Oubre (28.7 percent from deep last season) and Ian Mahinmi (0-6 from three in his NBA career) and suddenly you have a bench no one’s going to guard outside of 15 feet.
The simple solution would be to add a backup shooting guard who can space the floor with either Wall or Frazier, but that’s easier said than done. In an ideal world, Satoransky would be the solution, but nothing about his career suggests he’ll make a leap as a shooter this summer.
If Satoransky can’t figure out a way to be effective off the ball, or beat our Frazier for the backup point guard spot, then there just isn’t a spot for him in the rotation. And if that’s the case, then you’ve got $3 million worth of payroll locked up on someone who isn’t playing. Considering the Wizards will be in or near the luxury tax, it stands to reason he’d be one of first players they’d try to move to lower their tax bill if he isn’t producing next season.
But while the Frazier trade probably minimizes one player’s future in Washington, it could broaden the opportunities for another. Since Washington won’t be adding outside shooting at point guard, that makes it more important to have someone on the wing who can light it up from downtown, like a Bojan Bogdanovic.
Say what you want about his defensive issues and how he could cut into Kelly Oubre’s minutes, he gives the bench unit a proven outside shooter the bench desperately needs at this point. Plus, he already has familiarity with the Wizards’ system, something other candidates Washington could sign as a replacement with the mid-level don’t offer. Perhaps throwing a little extra money Bogdanovic’s way would be worth the cost certainty for Washington.
Regardless of what Washington’s decision is with Bogdanovic this summer, there’s a clear need to add outside shooting off the bench. Adding Frazier is a good deal for the Wizards, but if Washington can’t add productive shooting around him off the bench, he’ll run into even more challenges than Brandon Jennings did last season.