Deal of the Day, Salary cap rules may be bent but hopefully not broken. We already broke some.
Today’s Deal: Acquiring Domantas Sabonis
Let’s dig in.
Ben Simmons (no thank you!) Domantas Sabonis, son of Arvydis, is the most discussed name in NBA trades after the Pacers let it be known they were open to trading one or both of he and center Myles Turner.
There are several reasons why the Wizards are interested in acquiring the 25-year-old forward/center. For starters, his combination of scoring, rebounding and playmaking (19pts-12rebs-5asts) would put him near the top of the league’s forward/center class in most seasons. With Jokic and Embiid going supernova recently he’s going to slot a tier below those guys. Still, that output is why he’s been named to two consecutive All-Star teams in the East. He has 32 double-doubles and four triple-doubles on the season, three of which have come in the month of January.
We can’t forget the Gonzaga connection either. Tommy Sheppard is good friends with Gonzaga coach Mark Few and it shows. The Wizards under Sheppard have drafted two Zags in Rui Hachimura and Corey Kispert while acquiring a third, Joel Ayayi, off waivers. Sabonis also furthers the international flavor of the Wizards. He was born in Portland where his father played for the Blazers but competed internationally for Lithuania in 2019. Lithuanians love Tommy and vice versa.
The framework for a Wizards-Sabonis can be imagined by reviewing similar deals in years past such as the one that sent Nikola Vucevic from Orlando to Chicago. That swap cost the Bulls a recent lottery pick (Wendell Carter Jr) expiring salary (Otto Porter Jr) and two future first round picks. In exchange they received a center averaging 16-11–3. That’s a starting point but the Pacers can likely leverage more for Sabonis due to his age (turns 26 in early May) and the two years at modest cost on his contract after this year ends. Sabonis us due $19,937,500 for the 22-23 season and $21,312,500 for the 23-24 season with no options or possible opt outs.
So what would a potential trade look like? I’m going to propose two paths, one that includes Kyle Kuzma and one without.
Washington trades Kyle Kuzma, Deni Avija, Thomas Bryant and a future FRP (more on that pick below) to the Indiana Pacers for Domantas Sabonis and forward Torrey Craig.
Washington trades Rui Hachimura, Corey Kispert, Isaiah Todd, Montrezl Harrell and a future FRP to the Indiana Pacers for Domantas Sabonis and forward Oshae Brisset.
Why do the Pacers do the deal?
What can we read into those rumblings coming out of Indianapolis? Reports surfaced that the Pacers front office is open to moving one or all of Caris Levert, Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis to begin a rebuild. Within days Pacers 87 year old owner Herb Simon told The Athletic he wanted no part of a rebuild.
“I don’t want to see (a rebuild). If I don’t want to see it, the fans don’t want to see it. Why would we want to go through a rebuild when we can build on the go? That’s the talent. Donnie did it all the time. Larry did it. Kevin will do it. We can do it.”
OK, so a re-tool, or as Tommy Sheppard likes to say, a reload. General Managers around the league need their thesaurus handy in order to avoid using “rebuild” as it amounts to a curse word to many owners.
Including Kuzma is meant to satisfy the owner’s view that they do not take too big a step back. Giving up arguably our second most productive player shows the Wizards mean business too. The Pacers receive a young, more wing-friendly forward to help spread the floor for Carlisle’s preferred plan of attack. Including Kuz also keeps the Wizards from having to consider giving up both of their recent #9 picks, Rui Hachimura and Deni Avdija.
The second more closely mimics the trade that sent Paul George to OKC. In that deal, the Pacers acquired Victor Oladipo and Sabonis for Playoff P. That deal, as The Athletic’s Bob Kravitz pointed out to Josh Dobbins, was for 2 young players in the hopes that at least one hits. Worth noting that Kravitz would not trade Sabonis for anything less than Rui and Deni.
They also receive a budding forward on a rookie contract in Avdija, 21, who helps replace some of Sabonis’ passing while improving their wing defense which has been their franchise identity for a couple decades. Thomas Bryant is a productive young player as well. If they like him they have his Bird rights this offseason and his Indiana roots wouldn’t hurt. If not, his expiring contract comes off their books.
That’s a productive “now” asset, 1 recent lottery pick on a rookie scale contract, a FRP plus an option on a 3rd. The haul would outpace the one that Chicago packaged for Vooch.
The 2nd removes Kuzma at the cost of Kispert and Todd while providing Indy with their preferred forward out of Deni and Rui. Rui, Kispert, Todd, a FRP and Harrell to match salary provide the Pacers with a little bit of everything. Hachimura meshes with their preferred style (see pre-injury TJ Warren) while Kispert addresses their desperate need for shooting. Todd is the coveted second chip, and they still receive a future 1st. Harrell is included for salary instead of Bryant. It is believed the Wizards still hold hopes of re-signing Thomas Bryant this offseason.
Why do the Wizards do the deal?
Much of the focus for the last year or so can be narrowed down to “Will this move help the Wizards keep Bradley Beal?” I’m starting with Sabonis as a trade target because I believe he’s the caliber of player that changes the conversation. He’s the only target we’ve discussed as a fan base with the potential and skills to replace Beal as the centerpiece of a team. Should Beal choose to move on this summer his only real option is a sign and trade. Such a deal, with Sabonis and other core guys under contract, would help keep the Wizards’ Front Office from the dreaded rebuild while recouping some talent and draft capital.
They’d have a 26 year-old multi-time All-Star ready for a mural on the side of Capital One Arena.
I realize that’s not what the Trade Beal for a full tear-down folks want to hear, ESPECIALLY after the last three games. But I also feel these trade ideas should sound consistent with how Tommy Sheppard and Ted Leonsis have run the team.
Of course, the immediate goal is to get Sabonis and Beal into as many DHO’s as humanly possible. Many will refer to it as an attempt to provide Beal with help. It is. Beyond that, it has the potential to provide the franchise with a centerpiece moving forward if Beal wants out. A common refrain around Beal has been that he’s not a 1A or even a 1C level. He’s better suited to be a 2nd or 3rd best player on a contender. In this deal, the Wizards acquire a player so good, so productive as a Point Center, that Beal can slide into a complementary position even while earning the 35% Max.
As for the first-round pick, there are a few ways to free one up. We could lower protections on the one owed to OKC in exchange for moving back into the 2024 draft. That frees up a 2022 FRP for Indy. You wanna feel the rush? Gamble an unprotected 2022 FRP in a Sabonis deal.
Washington could also trade OKC our 2022 pick in exchange for our 2023 pick, which would open up a 2024 FRP to Indy. OKC could also be brought in to make it a three team trade.
The Wizards rotation after the trade
- PG: Dinwiddie - Neto - Holiday
- SG: Beal - Kispert
- F: Caldwell-Pope - Craig
- F: Hachimura - Bertans - Todd
- C: Sabonis - Gafford - Harrell
- PG: Dinwiddie - Neto - Holiday
- SG: Beal - Brisset
- F: Caldwell-Pope - Avdija
- F: Kuzma - Bertans - Gill
- F: Sabonis - Gafford - Bryant
It’s not SB Nation NBA Reacts, but here’s a one day poll to evaluate this deal. It ends at 10 a.m. ET tomorrow!
Should the Wizards trade Kyle Kuzma in a package for Domantas Sabonis?
This poll is closed
Yes for Deal #1, Kuzma can help them and the other assets are still legit.
Yes for Deal #2, hold onto Kuzma! Let the younger guys go.
No Deal, that’s not enough to land Sabonis.
No Deal, both are too much for Sabonis.
Want to request a trade target or send a challenge? Email me at Jheiser3 at gmail.com and include your Bullets Forever screen name.