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Three tips for the Wizards heading into the trade deadline

The Wizards have until Feb. 9 to determine whether the season truly is lost.

Philadelphia 76ers v Washington Wizards Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

The NBA’s trade deadline is on the horizon — Feb. 9, a little over a month away. In the most competitive NBA we’ve seen in years, most teams will be looking for the piece to push them over the edge into being contenders, while a few teams will be hosting a garage sale of players to try and restart. The Washington Wizards sit at 14-21 on the season, so fans are clamoring for General Manager Tommy Sheppard to blow the team up and start fresh with a high pick in the loaded 2023 draft class.

In this article, I will not be diving into the specifics of any proposed trades — you can go to Twitter to see what the legion of armchair GMs are able to cook up in the Trade Machine. I’ll simply outline my rationale as to why I believe the Wizards should make certain decisions. Also, a disclaimer: I will not be talking about Bradley Beal. Beal is on a quarter-billion dollar contract and a has no-trade clause in his back pocket, so the various scenarios in which the Wizards part ways with him are too complicated to get into here. With that aside, here are three moves I think the Wizards should make before the trade deadline.

Sell High on Kristaps Porzingis

Philadelphia 76ers v Washington Wizards Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

Kristaps Porzingis is having a career year offensively, putting up 22 points and nine rebounds per game on 47% shooting from the field. He’s even crept his way into All-Star discussions. Porzingis’ play is a massive reason the Wizards even have 13 wins at all, so if they want to tank for a high draft pick, they should capitalize on his offensive success and flip him for maximum value.

As Matt Moderno pointed out, Tommy Sheppard loves to buy low on troubled players and rehabilitate their careers, and Porzingis so far looks like his most successful of these projects. Now, trading the back-to-form Porzingis for assets and/or young players looks like the best step for the franchise.

Stick with Johnny Davis

2022-23 G League Winter Showcase - Salt Lake City Stars v Captial City Go-Go Photo by Richard Prepetit/NBAE via Getty Images

Hear me out. Johnny Davis is still just 20 years old and has been showing some real flashes of his scoring, defense and rebounding ability in the G League. He has a ton of room to grow. That does not, however, mean he is a productive player right now — and that may just be what the Wizards need.

For the blueprint for what to do with Davis, the Wizards should look no further than how the Oklahoma City Thunder handled Aleksej Pokuševski. Poku was a near-lottery pick drafted on potential in 2020 who was... unfinished, to say the least, over his first couple of years in the NBA. Rather than hiding him at the end of the bench in hot pursuit of the 10-seed, the Thunder repeatedly and unapologetically tanked, with Poku leading the charge. He saw over 20 minutes of playing time per night over his first two seasons, ensuring two things: OKC would lose, and Poku would get reps. Through this method, OKC landed Josh Giddey and Chet Holmgren in back-to-back drafts and squeezed a productive player out of Poku, who had ample time to develop.

Let Kyle Kuzma walk, but hold on to Rui Hachimura until the offseason

Brooklyn Nets v Washington Wizards Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Kyle Kuzma has become a fan favorite in his season and a half with the Wizards, but his time in Washington may be coming to a close. As Marc Stein reported, teams around the league are starting to believe Kuz is obtainable just weeks after the Wizards affirmed that he was a franchise cornerstone moving forward. With him having a career year like Porzingis, it might be smartest to capitalize on Kuz’s hot play and sell high.

On the other hand, there is no risk in holding on to Rui Hachimura. The Wizards did not offer him a contract extension by the deadline to do so this year, so he will be a restricted free agent in the summer. The now-24-year-old is approaching his prime, and we haven’t seen much from him beyond being a pretty decent role player. If that’s all Hachimura is, there’s no problem with that, but the Wizards need to think long and hard before offering him a lucrative contract if that’s the case.

Either way, trading him at the deadline would be premature considering he likely does not have much trade value around the league. Instead, the Wizards should try to hold on to him and re-sign him for a bargain contract if no other teams are interested when he hits free agency.

Should the Wizards tank, or should they continue trying to scrap together a team to fight for a playoff spot? I think you can gather how I would answer that question based on the way I worded it.

Let me know what you think in the comments! I will try to respond to everyone and get the conversation flowing.