Earlier this week, I provided a list of small forwards that the Wizards should keep an eye on around the trade deadline. The other position of need for the Wizards seems to be the center position.
The fact that Scott Brooks continually flip flops between Alex Len and Moe Wagner as the starter (and then curiously doesn’t play the other at all) is a sign that he’s not completely happy with the production he gets from that position. Robin Lopez appears locked in as the back-up center because somehow his no-jump jump-hook is integral to the Wizards’ offense.
On this week’s Bleav in Wizards podcast, Larry Hughes and I discussed potential trade deadline targets at both small forward and center. Hughes offered his perspective on which names made the most sense to him as complements to the current roster. We also talked to The Washington Post’s Ava Wallace, who agreed the center position is likely to be one the Wizards try to address at the deadline.
Keep in mind that the Wizards are very constrained in terms of what they could even pull off in a trade. Recent reports indicate that the Wizards are open to trading Troy Brown Jr., Isaac Bonga, Jerome Robinson, and Moe Wagner. Essentially, any deal they would make likely involves some combination of those players, plus either a future second round pick or some salary filler.
Hassan Whiteside, Sacramento Kings
I proposed this during free agency and it was not particularly well received. But I’m a glutton for punishment so I’m going to propose it again. The Wizards could use rim-protection, defensive rebounding, and a lob threat. Whiteside would be an upgrade over the current centers at all of those things.
Whiteside is averaging 8.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks in 14 minutes per game. Last season, in 30 minutes, he averaged 15.5 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 2.9 blocks. You can say all you want about empty stats or a lack of motivation but I still think he would provide the Wizards with attributes they could sorely use.
Whiteside’s $2.3 million contract makes him a reasonably attainable option. Perhaps the Kings would be willing to swap him for a younger center option like Moe Wagner.
JaVale McGee, Cleveland Cavaliers
I’m partly including him because I think a McGee-Wizards reunion would be funny. But on paper, McGee’s skillset actually makes sense as well. He’s a long, athletic shot-blocker who could provide vertical spacing. Plus, he now has championship experience, which is something I never expected to be writing a decade ago.
Things didn’t end particularly well the first time-around so maybe that takes this option off the table. But if they did want to make a play for McGee, Brown Jr.’s contract is enough to make the money work. Would throwing in a second round pick be enough to make it worth the Cavaliers’ while? Hard to say how they value McGee at this point now that they have their center of the future in Jarrett Allen.
(Author’s note: anyone know where Andray Blatche is these days? Maybe they could get the whole band back together)
Dwight Powell, Dallas Mavericks
Powell is a 6’10 athletic center (although, injuries have seemingly limited some of that) who would be one of the better lob threats the Wizards have had in recent memory. He has underachieved this season by averaging 4.5 points and 3.5 rebounds on 45% shooting in 15 minutes per game. Last season, in 26 minutes, he averaged 9.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, and shot 64% from the field.
With Kristaps Porzingis, Willie Cauley-Stein, and Maxi Kleber already on the roster, Powell has been the odd man out for much of the season. If there’s any chance of him getting back to his previous form he might be worth the look for the Wizards. Dallas is in the market for additional wings so maybe they could talk themselves into Brown Jr., Robinson, or Bonga.
Ed Davis, Minnesota Timberwolves
I’m not actually suggesting the Wizards trade for Ed Davis specifically, who is undersized at 6’9 and doesn’t provide much beyond rebounding (5.1 rebounds in 14 minutes per game). I’m suggesting that someone with a profile similar to Davis might be the direction they decide go.
Davis is a veteran player on a bad team that would likely want to get younger and he has a cheap, one-year contract. Davis’ $5 million deal could be swapped for Jerome Robinson directly. Essentially, any rebuilding team with a veteran rotting away on the bench could be in play here.
Bruno Fernando, Atlanta Hawks
Local basketball fans might remember Fernando from his time with the Maryland Terrapins. If you’re strictly an NBA fan, you probably have no idea who Fernando is because he really hasn’t gotten much opportunity at the NBA level thus far. Maybe a change of scenery would allow him to put his athleticism to better use.
This is not intended to be a needle-moving addition for this season but more of an opportunity to buy-low on a distressed asset in exchange for a player the Wizards have already given up on. A Bonga-for-Fernando trade works straight up and maybe Fernando would be a better fit at this point.