After a tumultuous start to the season during which the Wizards reportedly were reportedly listening to offers for anyone on the roster, things appear to have cooled down considerably. Part of that is because the Wizards have already made moves. They dealt Jason Smith and a second round pick to Milwaukee for Sam Dekker, and they trade Kelly Oubre Jr. and Austin Rivers to Phoenix for Trevor Ariza.
The team is also playing better. They’ve won six of their last nine including wins over the Bucks (albeit without Giannis), Thunder, and 76ers. They’ve crept back within 2.5 games of the eighth-place Hornets and have Ted Leonsis declaring the Wizards’ goal should still be to make the playoffs.
Considering that, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Zach Lowe of ESPN is reporting Washington doesn’t want to move Otto Porter in a deal that would sacrifice their goal of making the playoffs to help their long-term outlook.
The Kings continue to explore adding a rangier small forward, but they need to be wary of throwing major assets and cap room at what could end up an incremental move. (The bet here is that they do proceed with caution, in part because the Wizards have shown little appetite for dealing Otto Porter anywhere for a return heavy on future assets and cap flexibility, sources say.)
Sacramento has reportedly expressed their interest in Porter, but the best things they can offer are cap space and developing talent. Neither of those things will get Washington any closer to the playoffs, especially at the expense of their second-best healthy player.
It’s worth noting Lowe did not say Porter is untradeable, but the inference would be that Washington would only want to deal him to make an upgrade to their current core. That jives with what Adrian Wojnarowski reported earlier in the season.
Washington had hopes that forwards Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre could be centerpieces of deals that could return an impactful third star, but those players have fetched minimal interest on the market. Porter has a massive contract on the books, including three years and $81 million left.
Now that Oubre is out, it’s even harder to imagine how Washington can build a package around Porter to net a bigger star. They don’t have many extra assets to include with Porter in deals. Thomas Bryant has played well, but including re-opens the hole at center he filled when he entered the lineup. Troy Brown Jr. is still an unknown commodity who hasn’t had many chance to showcase his abilities. Beyond that, they don’t have many picks they can include as sweeteners either.
There’s also the issue of Porter’s individual value, which is lower now than it’s been the past few years. He’s struggled with injuries and overall production. Although he’s played better recently, he’s not at the level that made him so desirable in free agency two years ago. As Ben Standig notes, dealing Porter now would be the epitome of a sell-low move.
Right or not, the Wizards appear set on staying the course for this season, unless there’s an opportunity to make their team better in the here and now. With so many teams still in the mix for a playoff spot this season and unlikely to sell at the trade deadline, it might just be to settle in and accept this is probably the team Washington will roll with the rest of the way.