We all have different opinions on the current state of the team and what needs to be done to get the team on track. But regardless of what you think about what can be done in the short-term, there are long-term issues with fit and financial flexibility that are going to do something with at least one of these four key figures sooner than later:
- John Wall
- Bradley Beal
- Otto Porter
- Scott Brooks
With that in mind, we asked some of our writers what their first move would be if they were in Ernie Grunfeld’s shoes. We’ve separated them based on where they’d start.
Matt Silich: Under my regime, Brooks is gone. The Wizards have talent. They need to do better at finding guys on the margins, but their stars could be excellent together in the right system. Brooks is not facilitating that system. Perhaps most importantly, there’s no opportunity cost in ditching Brooks. He’s not making the team better, and there’s no limit to how much money you can spend on your head coach. Unlike the players, you can let him go and not give up future assets. I would find somebody with a reputation for modern offensive thinking and who, ideally, would be willing to challenge the stars on their defensive effort.
Alan Jenkins: It feels like he can’t get out of his own way and just continues to make the same mistakes over and over again. He’s hasn’t shown to be a great in-game coach as he isn’t creative, doesn’t make a ton of in-game adjustments, his rotations don’t make sense, and it feels like guys are already tuning him out.
Ben Becker: Someone has to be the grown up in the room: you trade John Wall. The longer you wait, the more painful it will be. Firstly, spare me the “he’s not tradable with that contract.” NBA history is littered with “untradable” guys who got moved. Secondly, he’s an all-star talent and a recognizable “star.” There’s a market for him. Guys like Wall are hard to get your hands on, even if he’s hellaciously overpaid. It only takes one team (Phoenix? Orlando?) to make a deal.
Why Wall? Well, yes, obviously he’s reached the age in his career where he’s unlikely to get appreciably better, has a history of knee problems, and is signed for supermax money. But just as critical is that Beal and Porter are both three-ish years younger; they still have their full primes in front of them. If you have three highly paid guys, trade the oldest one.
The team has been built around Wall for the last nine years. It’s gotten as far as it’s going to; it’s time for a cultural shift that does not involve Wall as the face of the franchise. He’s been a great ambassador for the city and fantastic in the community, but this is a business decision. Trading Wall will provide the most options down the road and the best pathway to team success. Rip the band-aid off.
Umair Khan: Sadly, I’m dealing Wall first and it’s not really close. I think he’s built too many bad habits defensively, and we’ve seen very little from him over the last 2-3 years to suggest anything is going to change. Factor in his supermax kicking in next season and its a no-brainer.
Quinten Rosborough: Not blaming the current situation on him. But I’d need to get off that contract, and moving him would give the whole organization some fresh headspace.
Osman Baig: I’m very concerned about of a partial rebuild. The worst possible thing in my opinion would be to get stuck in 30-35 win territory and I think that’s where we’d end up in a situation where we trade either Wall or Otto (unless we get Jimmy Butler). 35-win basketball and late lottery picks (the Unseld/Nash era) is unacceptable.
So that leads me to trading Beal, the player with the most value. He’s the only player who can return high-upside young talent and picks. If he is involved the return should be good enough to expedite a rebuild and bring in some nice players to build around.
I do go back and forth on this, though. I watch Milwaukee look totally different with a coaching change and wonder what could be here.
Jake Whitacre: I’m about as bullish as it gets when it comes to Porter’s on-court value and his potential. The thing is, I don’t think his value will ever be properly understood here, and his potential will never be tapped into the way it should by the coaching staff or the rest of the roster.
Since he probably won’t ever be what he could be here, it’s probably just better to cut your losses now before the team’s struggles start to damage his trade value. Even if you only get back equal or slightly lesser value at this point, there’s no point in holding out for something that isn’t going to come together here. All you can do is hope that it serves as a wake-up call for everyone else when he is gone and they still have the same problems.