Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! I wanted to get this roundtable out last weekend, but it was the Super Bowl and pre-Valentine’s weekend. So here I am, scrambling to get this up, and then I have two Washington Mystics pieces to get up after getting the stomach bug last night. Enough of my rambling. Here’s Oz starting off the roundtable.
Osman Baig: Hey everyone! It was a wild last hour before the trade deadline. I think big picture we have to just accept they are trying to build around Beal and this trade did nothing to dissuade that. Did this trade change your opinion at all? They added a good player in Kristaps Porzingis (when healthy) and kept their recent picks plus their ‘22 FRP looks to be a lottery selection.
What are your thoughts on the other deals? The deal with Charlotte for Ish Smith seemed fine. The Wizards got back a 2nd rd pick and a young prospect that might be worth taking a flyer on. The Phoenix trade of Aaron Holiday was getting rid of a bad mistake. What would your next steps be?
Lyndie Wood: It’s hard to argue with any single trade. Overall, it was a good “asset management” day: The Wizards moved bad contracts for better ones, picked up a young player and a pick, and didn’t give up any of their current young guys. Moving Trez was also necessary I think, fun as he was to watch - his expiring contract meant that of the three centers it was probably best to move him.
From a big picture perspective, however, it feels like more of the same: Barring Beal leaving this summer or some extraordinary ping-pong ball luck, it seems like doubling down on a low-ceiling team. It’s hard not to construct “what if” deals involving Tyrese Haliburton in particular (is everyone else as shocked as I am that the Kings were willing to trade him?). I hope I’m wrong, but it feels like we’re going to be “competing for the play-in” for a lonnnng time.
As a bit of an aside, were there rumors about the deal with the Mavs before it happened? Most years I treat the trade deadline like a national holiday. But this year I was busy with other stuff and didn’t pay as much attention.
Albert: Trade deadline day is a national holiday for me Lyndie! But like you, this year, with Emma Meesseman’s homecoming weekend, I felt like this.
(If you were having a … drinking game readers, you may now take a sip! If you’re 21 or older in the USA, 19 and up in Canada, and 18 in most of Europe of course!)
In short, I think all of us will agree that the Wizards didn’t sacrifice any future draft assets, which was one of Sheppard’s main goals as he stated in press availability after the deadline. But, KP’s availability remains a concern.
I have more thoughts on the moves which I’ll get to in the second part, but I’ll now let others answer.
John Heiser: Dallas made Porzingis available because they came to the conclusion that he was not a true #2 next to Luka Doncic. He’s not a guy that they can run their offense through when Luka sits to carry those minutes. All those missed games gave them an opportunity to develop an identity without him. They became satisfied with who they were in those games.
The Wizards have acquired a #3 making $70 million over the next two years. Comparing his production and injury issues to the two guys he was traded for is setting the bar really-really low. They’ve acquired Kristaps to be a #2 to Brad. Beal is a #2 or #3 on a championship team that they are about to pay to be the Franchise #1. We’ve seen this all before. John Wall wasn’t a Franchise #1 anymore than Otto was a #3. It doesn’t lead to sustained or playoff winning. It leads to the play-in (at best) and more heartbreak when we miss on potential #1 options in the draft lottery.
The good news is that the young roster will have ample PT through the end of this season. My hope is that said youth does more than its fair share of losing so that no matter how the lottery balls bounce the team is in position to make a move into the top 4-5 using their own pick and some of this youth. The Wizards, including Brad and Kristpas, desperately need a true #1 if they hope to break free from the Leonsis-Sheppard purgatory treadmill.
For Montrezl, all I hoped for a 2nd. We appear to have gotten that although it is protected somehow. Details TBD.
Vernon Carey is a 6’10 under the rim center without much explosion. He was one of the top players in his recruiting class and is still young. He turns 21 in a couple weeks. He’s got power and is a decent rebounder. Seems to know his limitations as he hasn’t bothered with 3s in his second yer minutes in the G League or NBA. He hasn’t played much but I can’t figure out exactly why after a minute of googling. As a third center, at least he brings some heft that we’ve been missing this season. He makes the minimum next year and the following year is a team option. Low cost flyer, a Tommy special.
Next? The franchise goes back to finding an answer at PG. There doesn’t appear to be a clear answer in the draft, at least at the top of the lottery. The free agent class is headlined by three guys with player options: John Wall, Russell Westbrook and Kyrie Irving. Safe to assume two of those three are out of consideration. We don’t appear to have the flexibility to pay Kyrie, not that the Front office would try given his inconsistent availability. On the RFA market there’s Collin Sextion but do we really consider him a point guard? He’s coming off a torn meniscus in his left knee.
Next place to look is the draft class that’s coming up on extension eligibility. Ja Morant and Darius Garland will get their bags to stay right where they are. That leaves an intriguing option, Chicago’s Coby White. Beyond that there are guys coming up on their 3rd contract like D’Angelo Russell.
Osman: The interesting thing is last season, we all mostly wanted the Wizards to pick a lane. Names like Aaron Gordon, Jerami Grant, Vucevic, etc...were thrown around. They ended up getting a comparable player without giving up any of their recent first round picks but it still doesn’t feel like enough now. Is that because of the big step back Beal took this season or is it because another season was wasted realizing that the players they acquired last summer didn’t mesh well and weren’t good enough?
Onto their current state, from an actual entertainment standpoint, I’m kind of excited to see how their trio of big wings and Porzingis mesh. It could be fun...But in the back of my mind I wonder; even if they move up in the lottery or add another veteran point guard this summer (or both), how are the players all going to mesh next season around who WUJ called today, the head of the snake? Will Beal bounce back or is this who he is? When I hear Sheppard say how good Beal/KP can be together and how he’s the leader, I just get this stale feeling. This trade helps get rid of that staleness temporarily, but it might be right around the corner when training camp starts next season.
Kevin Broom: Give Sheppard credit for taking a shot and not paying too much to do it. The Wizards didn’t want Dinwiddie or Bertans — and they both wanted out, as well — and Sheppard did a nice job of turning those two in Porzingis, who’s very good...when healthy.
That’s the gamble. One of the big reasons Dallas was willing to swap a guy as productive as Porzingis has been while on the floor is that he’s often hurt and unavailable. One of the other big reasons: he’s chronically unhappy and he gets on his teammates’ nerves.
I have no problem with this trade, even if Porzingis can’t stay healthy and the team loses. They traded guys they don’t want for someone with talent, who actually produces. In my PPA metric, he’s 22nd so far this season in per possession production. So he can play. Of course, he’s 77th in total production because of the health issues.
If he actually stays healthy, the Wizards might be decent. If not, they were going to lose with Dinwiddie and Bertans, so I guess it doesn’t make much difference if they lose with Porzingis in street clothes instead.
The second part of the roundtable is tomorrow. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!