Nearly a quarter of the way through the season, the Washington Wizards are an underwhelming 8-12, a disappointing start to a season that was looked at having long-term ramifications on the direction of this franchise. After 20 games, that direction may be taking shape as Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the franchise is giving the impression that every player on the roster is available in trade scenarios.
Washington’s preference remains to reshape the team around Wall and Beal, but poor play among key teammates is limiting their trade value and paralyzing the Wizards’ efforts to make meaningful changes to a roster that no longer appears functional together, league sources said.
It’s unclear if this willingness to discuss every player on the roster in trade negotiations is an indication of a full-blown rebuild or just a change to a roster that no longer, as Woj reported per league sources, appears functional together.
Ernie Grunfeld has shown a willingness to tweak the roster. He has made trades for Marcin Gortat (and subsequently traded him away), Markieff Morris, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Austin Rivers in recent memory. While these moves have played a critical part in the current iteration of the team, the core of John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter Jr. has remained untouched. The ESPN report represents a shift in organizational strategy; one that can finally alter their Big 3. Over the next few weeks we will look at potential trade scenarios involving the three core, max contract players on the Wizards, starting with Porter.
He has been a polarizing player; one who either is viewed as having absolutely played to his contract or one who is viewed as a nice player who is overvalued by the analytics community. Regardless of your position, Porter is a good player, elite shooter, and has a role on virtually every team in the NBA. There are contractual issues with three years and $81 million left on his contract but there should be a market for him. We’re also starting with him because as Wojnarowski also reported, “Washington’s preference remains to reshape the team around Wall and Beal”.
In that light, we hypothesized several trade scenarios involving Porter. I asked my colleague Kevin Broom to opine on these hypothetical deals. If you follow Kevin on Twitter or read his work, you know he is as bright as they come in his basketball analysis. For those of you who follow Kevin and mef on Twitter, you likely know we often are on different sides of the fence in our analysis and how we view certain aspects of the game, which should make this fun!
Trade idea #1: Washington trades Porter to the New Orleans Pelicans for Julius Randle, Solomon Hill, and a first round pick.
Baig’s take: This idea, which was suggested by Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, would shave $5 million off their payroll and save them a bundle in luxury tax payments. Solomon Hill’s contract expires after next season. Julius Randle is an interesting player who can be what the Wizards had hoped Markieff Morris would be, an effective small ball five with a high motor. He has a player option next season, which adds some risk for Washington who would only be able to offer him a new deal starting at 120 percent of his current salary, which is why New Orleans is including a 1st round pick.
Broom’s Take: If the Wizards decide to trade Porter, they could do a lot worse than this package. Randle is good overall, albeit in a fairly unbalanced way. That’s a weird way of saying he’s terrific on offense and terrible on defense. Overall, he’s a net positive. Hill had the good fortune of being not terrible and a free agent in 2016, and is pure salary ballast. It’d be better for the Wizards if Grunfeld wasn’t the one making use of the first round pick, but he’s team president for life. Overall, while this trade probably makes the Wizards worse, it’s a decent value for Porter.
One thing that’s interesting is the follow-on moves this trade could precipitate. With Randle on the roster, the Wizards could theoretically move on from Howard and Mahinmi. Howard has been decent for them, despite the health woes, but the Wizards could use this trade to modernize their big man rotation and update the roster.
Trade idea #2: Washington trades Porter to Philadelphia for Markelle Fultz, Wilson Chandler, and Furkan Korkmaz and a first round pick.
Baig’s take: The Wizards shed nearly $3 million off their payroll this season as part of this deal. Fultz is the big fish in this deal and for Washington, this trade is about getting a young talent, who went with the top overall pick in the 2017 draft, and seeing if the DMV native can find the right situation in a low-pressure environment. Wilson Chandler is an expiring contract who Washington can likely flip again near the deadline for another asset and Korkmaz is another former first round pick the Wizards can take a flier on.
Broom’s Take: This would represent a major gamble by the Wizards. Fultz struggles defensively, which is normal for a player so young and inexperienced, and he’s productive in non-shooting aspects of the game. But, he has a psychological issue going on, and it’s affecting his shooting in an apparently self-reinforcing loop. The worse he shoots, the more embarrassed he feels, which causes him to shoot worse. Lather-rinse-repeat. If it was me, the Wizards would need to be under .500 in January to consider this deal. And, if they swapped Porter for Fultz and change, it would likely herald trades involving Wall and Beal.
Trade idea #3: Washington trades Porter to the Brooklyn Nets for DeMarre Carroll, Jared Dudley, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and a second round pick.
Baig’s take: The Wizards do not save money in the deal itself, but they get three on expiring contracts, which helps their long-term financial picture. That said, Hollis-Jefferson is a restricted free agent the Wizards would be interested in retaining. He isn’t a great shooter, but he’s a willing and able defender who has improved in his short career.
Broom’s take: This is a salary dump, and I wouldn’t recommend this deal for the Wizards. At a minimum, they should insist on a first round pick from Brooklyn before agreeing to something like this. Porter is the best player in this deal by a bunch, and the Wizards would be significantly worse off for making it.
We save our boldest trade for last (Drumroll please)
Trade idea #4: Washington trades Porter and Tomas Satoransky to the Golden State Warriors for Draymond Green and Shaun Livingston.
Baig’s take: If the team ever needed a shot in the arm, it’s this one and Draymond would certainly provide that. He is a perfect fit who will spearhead the defense, and expect others to follow his lead. Washington is sacrificing shooting, but I think it’s important to remember that before Kevin Durant joined the Warriors, Draymond Green averaged 14 points, 9.5 rebounds and 7.4 assists per game during the Warriors’ 73-win season.
Would the Warriors entertain a trade for the player who has been the fire behind the Warriors dynasty? That’s the question and one nobody really has an answer to. If they do decide to trade him, Otto Porter, a player who can easily assimilate to an existing lineup and give the team another excellent outside shooter.
Shaun Livingston’s contract is needed to make the salaries work, which is why Tomas Satoransky heads west. Given Livingston’s last two stints with the Wizards, this one would likely be short lived.
Broom’s take: This one is inspired by the Green-Durant scream-fest a couple weeks back. In suspending Green, the Warriors took Durant’s side in the disagreement, which makes a lot of sense because he’s a lot better. Green isn’t what he was, but his personality would be a wildcard in the Wizards’ locker room. His presence might lead to more passive-aggressive pouting, or it could trigger the culture change the Wizards need. Green’s shooting has been in a three-year slide, and while his defense isn’t what it was, it’s still very good. My guess is that he wouldn’t move the needle for the Wizards, but it would probably be entertaining. I wonder if Washington might be able to also come out of this with Jordan Bell, especially since they’d be giving up Satoransky.
One other potential trade partner could be Utah. They already have a lesser, older version of Porter in Ingles, but the Jazz has a lot of salary invested in Gobert and Favors, and it’s proving difficult to play the two of them together. Something like Porter for Favors and Exum or Crowder works, though a deal couldn’t be completed until January 15. I’d lean towards wanting Crowder for the Wizards because Exum is (and has been) unproductive, and Crowder brings some legitimate toughness to Washington.
Utah was willing to give Porter a maximum salary in 2016, and would give them a lot of frontcourt interchangeability. If the Jazz wanted some backcourt help (they need it), Washington could include Satoransky (who they don’t value despite the fact that he’s good). He’d likely be an excellent third guard in rotation with Rubio and Mitchell.