In last week’s SB Nation NBA Reacts survey, the majority of Washington Wizards fans who responded believed that the team should be sellers at the deadline. In other words, they should start collecting draft picks and/or other younger players who could be a bigger part of the future. The easiest way to do that is for the Wizards to trade Bradley Beal to a contending team.
However, that didn’t happen. In fact, the Wizards made one minor trade, sending Troy Brown and Moritz Wagner to the Chicago Bulls for Daniel Gafford and Chandler Hutchison. Wagner was later traded to the Boston Celtics in a separate deal. Perhaps the trade with the Bulls could have been larger if Lauri Markkanen came to Washington for a future first round pick, but the front office was unwilling to go that far.
Here's the thing.— Bullets Forever (@BulletsForever) March 25, 2021
1) They weren't going to trade Beal;
2) They can't and probably wouldn't trade Russ;
3) 2 of Deni, Rui, and their '21 pick would have been needed to make a major deal <---Wasn't going to happen.
Thus you get Daniel Gafford and Chandler Hutchinson.
At the end of the day, the Wizards don’t look any better right now in the short or medium-term than they did before the trade deadline. Here’s why:
- It’s unlikely Gafford will perform better than Wagner — He averaged 4.7 ppg this season and isn’t a three-point threat. Wagner isn’t the best shooter, but is more consistent from long range nevertheless. That said, at least Rui Hachimura and Deni Avdjia may get some more playing time, though it also wouldn’t surprise me to see Gafford get a significant role right away.
- Bradley Beal will be one of the most coveted trade targets around draft time and free agency — The Wizards and Beal stayed firm that they are joined at the hip this season, and they were right. But as the losing in Washington continues, the trade talk will increase again in a couple of months. So perhaps they could still get a lot of value for him at that time, especially if the Wizards fire Tommy Sheppard as their General Manager and bring in a new official who is eager to start a rebuild.
- The Wizards won’t have a “cleaner slate” until Russell Westbrook’s contract is off the books — Any GM, whether it’s Sheppard or someone else, should have no problem trading Beal for multiple picks and/or prospects. But the tougher question is how can they move on Russell Westbrook’s contract, which won’t expire until after the 2022-23 NBA season, assuming he accepts a $47 million player option for that last year without accepting bad contracts in return? Once Westbrook’s contract is off the books, the Wizards will be handicapped, though to be fair, he is still putting up big numbers and can contribute effectively for almost any team.
Do you feel better about the Wizards after their relative stalemate at the trade deadline? Let us know in the comments below.