The Wizards are trading Markieff Morris and their 2023 second round pick to the New Orleans Pelicans for Wesley Johnson, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania and David Aldridge. The move, coupled with their move to ship Otto Porter to the Bulls, gets Washington completely out of the luxury tax this season and ensures they won’t be subject to the repeater tax next season.
Morris was the easiest target to get out of the tax. His status is still up in the air after injuring his neck last month, and it was hard to see a role for him next season with the Wizards looking to get younger and retool next season. Giving up a second round pick, on top of the other two the Wizards dealt this season to shed Jason Smith and Jodie Meeks’ salaries, is a tough pill to swallow.
What’s worse is that there may have been an option to shed that salary without giving up that pick. The Lakers have coveted Trevor Ariza all season long, and they could have offered more savings in a swap for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. However, it appears Washington is set on keeping Ariza around beyond this season.
Lakers are interested, but Trevor Ariza and Washington Wizards remain in each's future plans, league sources tell ESPN. Ariza is enthusiastic about re-signing with Washington. Wizards' trades creating financial flexibility that'll make it easier to bring Ariza back on new deal— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 7, 2019
The Wizards plan at this point is to keep Trevor Ariza and Jeff Green with the hopes of retaining the unrestricted free agents beyond this season, per source.— Ben Standig (@BenStandig) February 7, 2019
In the meantime, Johnson should provide some extra depth on the wing now that Porter is gone. He started 13 games with the Pelicans this season and is shooting 38 percent from deep. However, he fell out of the rotation over the last two months. He’s only played seven minutes combined in January and February.
UPDATE: ESPN’s Bobby Marks is reporting the Wizards used John Wall’s Disabled Player Exception to facilitate the deal.
Some followup notes re: Washington/New Orleans trade. Wesley Johnson was acquired into the $8.6M John Wall Disabled Player Exception. The Wizards created a $8.6M new trade exception that will expire next February.— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) February 7, 2019