There isn’t much good news on the Washington Wizards right now. And if you haven’t already read it today, check out John Gonzalez’s column on The Ringer about the Wizards. Last season, all eyes were on Cleveland as the Cavaliers were the NBA’s soap opera. This season, it’s now the Wizards’ duty.
The consensus at this point in the season is that the Wizards have to blow it up sooner rather than later. But it will probably be harder to do it in 2018 than it was in 2010, the last time Washington held a fire sale.
First, the Wizards will have to find a suitor for John Wall and his contract, where a four year, $170 million supermax extension kicks in starting in the 2019-20 season. Wall is now in the prime of his career, but he will likely begin to decline over the course of the next several seasons.
Also, though Wall is one of the best point guards in the NBA, he is also going to be overpaid. Thus, there aren’t going to be many teams willing to take his salary, even if they presumably could be getting the best overall player in such a deal. In 2022-23, the last year of his deal, Wall is expected to make at least $47 million. He’ll be 32 and would probably decline somewhat between now and then.
Trading Bradley Beal and Otto Porter will be more realistic. They will not earn more than $28.751 million per year between now and the 2020-21 season when their contracts expire while Wall’s salary will bump up to about $38.15 million next season. The Wizards only have about $44 million in committed salary in the 2021-22 season, when all contracts are off the books except for Wall and rookie Troy Brown.
Ultimately, the next Wizards rebuild will probably not be like it was in 2009-10 when the team was successfully able to move Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler, and Gilbert Arenas in one calendar year, though it was sparked by the infamous incident in the locker room. If anything, it looks like the Wizards may have to keep Wall while the rest of the roster could be “torn down,” especially if Wall doesn’t play at an MVP-like level over the next four seasons.
In my opinion, a real rebuild cannot truly happen until Wall, Beal, and Porter are traded or otherwise leave the team. Until then, the Wizards are likely on the Treadmill of Mediocrity at best, or have consistently drama-filled bad seasons at worst. I’m sad to write that I don’t see this core going anywhere, but that’s where things are at this point.
If the Wizards do decide to rebuild this year (or next), how would it look like with Wall remaining as the centerpiece given his salary? Do you think he could be moved for valuable players or assets? Could Wall be convinced to stay content in Washington under the circumstances or would the Wizards just have to accept being mediocre at best? And if Wall were traded, how would a Beal and/or Porter led Wizards team look? Let us know in the comments below.