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May Mailbag Questions: Answering a big question on the Mystics (again) and your Wizards playoff questions

Since the Mystics have declined in the last couple seasons, I’m not surprised that interest in the team has waned. But there also aren’t many WNBA sites that focus on the Mystics as fans. And we do.

Phoenix Mercury v Washington Mystics
It’s sad that I have to write about why the Mystics are a legitimate team ... but here we are.
Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

Thank you for submitting your questions for this month’s mailbag. Selected questions are below. We will have our next one in June 2021. Thanks!

Can you end Washington Mystics coverage yesterday? (multiple BF commenters and/or trolls)

It’s sad that I have to answer this question seriously in 2021 when the WNBA is in its 25th season. The rhetorical answer? “The Mystics will go away when you take them ... from my cold, dead hands!”

In layman’s terms ... it’s not happening in a feasible sense. Just like when Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election. Some were hoping to God that Biden would somehow not be the President happen no matter what.

At the end of the day ... Joe’s POTUS now. And I think we went through our insurrections on the Mystics years ago ... but I always anticipated that some, if not many or even most of our commenters were hoping that they would be “canceled,” especially given their 1-3 start this season which is another topic in and of itself. I’d rather talk about that, to be honest.

But here we are.

All of that said, I’ll give a rational answer. There are three ways that Mystics coverage ends here. First, if a new Mystics-only site comes up and siphons all of our existing web traffic for them making us irrelevant, then that may be what makes them unnecessary. That will be difficult because the vast majority of WNBA fan sites have been league-focused as opposed to team-focused like ours. And it’s harder to keep Wizards coverage than you might think.

The second way is if Monumental Sports & Entertainment sold the Mystics to an owner who subsequently decides to move the team out of the DMV. In that case, I’d have to give the obligatory send-off ... but I don’t see the Mystics being sold or moving out of town.

And the final way is if we are given a decree by the higher-ups to stop covering them right away — and we haven’t. It is just surprising that some of you want me to cancel them in the WNBA’s 25th season (yes, I’m stating this a second time intentionally), when the league is increasing player salaries and when coverage is going up, albeit mostly bt league-wide fan sites as opposed to team-oriented ones.

But to get to my main point, it’s pathetic that some of you take issue with Washington’s WNBA team being here and want me to “cancel” them by decree at a moment where I truly think the league is going to grow significantly, even if Emma Meesseman wants no part of this team after the Olympic Break. After all, the Mystics just lost to the worst team of the last couple of seasons and my hunch is that Meesseman will only play for a contender.

This site is among the most read for Mystics content, readership is growing there and we want to see that continue, whether the Mystics continue to contend this season, or if Mike Thibault becomes the Mystics’ version of Scott Brooks, whom nearly ALL of us want to see fired back in 2016 at the first sign of the Wizards buckling under pressure.

My last statement regarding this very topic is below from 2020. If you want them to go away, maybe you should pay an investor in another city to pay a billion to Ted Leonsis and encourage that investor to relocate the team.

Sarcasm aside (and there was a lot of it in the previous paragraphs), you also know Ted and Monumental Sports fully believe in the WNBA, which he has stated repeatedly. Since Ted isn’t even the richest investor in his enterprise, you would think that that richest investor is on board with the Mystics too. Barring something unanticipated, the Mystics and the WNBA aren’t going away from here or anywhere else. That ship sailed over 20 years ago!

Three questions: Do you believe the three-center rotation will be kept if Brooks receives an extension? Second, do you see Washington looking more into trading for an above-average contributor this off-season (using any combination of picks, vets, and young players)? Third, do you see the front office retaining both Ish Smith and Raul Neto? (gavalon55)

To your first question, I think all three centers stay if Brooks remains next year. Second, I think Washington will try to bring another contributor without letting go of Bradley Beal, but also think they won’t be successful. Finally, I think the Wizards can keep one of Smith or Neto but not both.

Do you think the Wizards need a more balanced offense? (Monroemania1966)

Absolutely. Westbrook and Beal both have usage ratings over 30 percent each and we know Westbrook specifically is at the end of his prime. It is time for players like Rui Hachimura, Deni Avdija and Thomas Bryant to take more of the load next season.

Do you think Rui Hachimura, Cassius Winston and Deni Avdija are bust players? (GreatWallofWizards)

I don’t see Winston being a bust no matter what. He was the 53rd overall pick in last year’s draft. As for Hachimura and Avdija, the jury is still out since they are still early in their careers. For now, I don’t see either of them being busts anyway.

Given circumstances (TB out, Deni out, the matchup with the Sixers and facing the 1 seed as an 8 seeded team), how could a specific playoff result impact the offseason?

A) If we either get swept or look atrocious (poor performances, some blowout losses but win a game due to, say Sixers committing 23 turnovers) – what do you think happens to Scott Brooks? Is the volume and timing of Beal’s extension depending on whether he looks healthy in this series or performs well? Is the front office likely to entertain trade ideas for the two superstars if we look bad in the playoffs?

B) In case we’re competitive/perform reasonably well but lose the series, is Brooks likely to stay? Do you think Sheppard will spend assets on roster upgrades?

C) In case of an upset/reaching the second round, what route do you think Sheppard will go? Will he part with young players and/or multiple first-rounders for a borderline star player/major upgrade at small forward? Will Leonsis be willing to pay the luxury tax?

I’m interested in what you think the front office WILL do, maybe as opposed to what they should do. (WhyNotTyler)

On A, I think Brooks won’t be renewed. He’s been on the last yer of his contract for a reason and the Wizards never reached expectations after his first season.

For B, I’m not so sure if Brooks stays if the Wizards make this a competitive series despite losing. Again, the Wizards didn’t have the confidence to keep him beyond this season.

And for Choice C. I expect Brooks back if the Wizards make the second round.

Which small forwards are realistic trade/free agency targets for the Wizards? Why would you pursue those players, what’s the specific upgrade for the team? How much would you be willing to give up in terms of salary or assets?

Would appreciate YOUR opinion here, regardless of whether you think it aligns with Tommy Sheppard’s or not. (WhyNotTyler)

The Wizards’ most realistic trade target is Bradley Beal, so he’d have to be the player traded away in any major deal for a small forward.

I would trade him and at least one future first-round pick for Paul George of the Los Angeles Clippers. George is shooting more efficiently from three than Beal this past season and it helps alleviate their conundrum of the George vs. Kawhi Leonard dynamic. I don’t see this trade idea being realistic, but it’s one I would do in the hopes of seeing the Wizards make another playoff appearance next season, hopefully more like a second-round playoff appearance at least.

Four Questions: 1) A new coach certainly seems to have helped the fortunes of the Hawks, Knicks, and Sixers. Would the same benefit our team? 2) In the same vein, has Tommy Sheppard done enough (I believe he has) to retain his position as GM? 3) Would it be better to abandon our efforts to draft a SF, pick up one in free agency, and focus our efforts on a quick PG (you KNOW who I’m thinking about), depending on where we pick in the draft??? (whew!) Lastly….4) How ’bout dem Wizards? (KappaKid II)

My answers:

  1. The Wizards have done many changes before with limited success so I don’t think it would be enough to change the fortunes.
  2. Yes, I think Sheppard’s safe. The trade deadline deal for Daniel Gafford along with the late-season run for the playoffs should be more than enough. It wasn’t like Sheppard hired Brooks, at least officially
  3. Yes! While Westbrook is the point guard of the present, he will soon fall out of his prime and a new star at that position will cushion the blow.
  4. I’m happy with the team’s late season run for the playoffs but I just wish that the Wizards didn’t give up 10 regular season games, five each to start each half.

Thanks again for your questions. Our next run will be in mid-June. You never know, but it will be fun to see the Wizards get into the second round!