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May Mailbag: Shakira Austin’s hot start, and will the Wizards make big changes this summer?

Here is the first main part of our answers.

Washington Wizards v Atlanta Hawks
We were asked a question if Kristaps Porzingis could be moved as early as ... this summer.
Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

Thank you for your questions to this month’s mailbag. Our next mailbag will be in mid-June. Enjoy!


What are the early thoughts on Shakira Austin and Thibaut’s decision to trade down and pass on Rhyne Howard and NaLyssa Smith. This is strictly out of curiosity — right now, the Mystics are flying but I’m curious what your thoughts are on Austin so far and if you would make that draft trade again. (LoungeAct09)

Albert: Austin has been a strong force off the bench or as a starter so far. Are her stats as great as Smith’s or Howard’s? No, but that’s also because the Fever and Dream had bigger needs for youth in the short term than the Mystics did.

For now, I’m happy that Austin has been a consistent rebounding presence for Washington and she’ll be on the All-Rookie Team for sure if she continues to average close to her current 9.8 points and 6 rebounds a game on a team that is as deep as the Mystics.

Is there a realistic chance that both Beal and/or Porzingis could be traded in the offseason or are Wiz fans destined to watch the front office stumble and bumble their way through another disappointing season? If the answer is Yes, which teams are realistic trade partners and why? (Skulldog)

Matt Modderno: No. They are committed to their “play-in or bust” strategy for eternity. We have clearly angered the basketball gods in some way that has resulted in us futilely rolling the boulder up the hill again each season like basketball Sisyphus.

Yanir Rubinstein: Good question. If Beal is traded it will be almost certainly because he asked for it. Washington has produced some of the worst contracts in recent league history to the

point where some players feel they deserve to get rewarded for being loyal (read: for wasting their prime here). So Beal’s representation almost certainly believes the simplest path to super-max dollars goes through the Wizards FO. Once that super-max is on the books he can then demand a trade if he feels things are not working out for him here.

Porzingis’ would need to complete a very strong and healthy season playing above 70 games or so for his contract to become tradeable.

The Wizards are on the Treadmil of <ediocrity but they are moving ahead with Bradley Beal, whether we like it or not. With that in mind, what kind of point guard does Beal need or feel comfortable with,? Is he too much of a prima donna? He didn’t get along with Wall or a hand-picked Dinwiddie who now is on a deep run in playoffs. (Stephen Weaver)

Yanir: I think Beal is far from a prima donna. He may not be the amenable team player we knew back in 2018, but he definitely is not a prima donna. I think it’s not just about having the right point guard next to him, but also having a decent sub in the SG position that can back him up and reduce his load to around 32-33 minutes a night so that in those minutes Beal can also play committed D.

Also, I think Beal and Wall played well together in the 2016-17 season. Afterward Wall’s health deteriorates, unfortunately.

Matt: I think it’s less about their game and more about their temperament and demeanor. It has to be a “beta” who can deftly navigate the egos on this team but not challenge Beal for alpha dog status. Beal, Porzingis, and Kuzma will all want shots. Hachimura is not shy about letting it fly (at least some nights). I’m sure Kentavious Caldwell-Pope expects a certain amount of touches. With that, our point guard needs to have high levels of basketball IQ and EQ to keep everyone happy. Fun times!

As one of the few teams where he could still be a starter do you think the Wizards have a shot at signing Ricky Rubio? (student driver)

Yanir: Sure. The Wizards would likely also be one of the few teams willing to overpay him. But I doubt he should be a starter, even for the Wiz...

Matt: Depending on the money he’s looking for and the state of his knee, I don’t hate it. He’s been a good point-of-attack defender and he can obviously get people the ball. I’m sure we could, and likely will, do worse.

Is Killian Hayes worth the 10th pick in a trade? Considering projected players available and contract length .. or do we make a selection or trade for another player? (All dc and unc)

Matt: No thanks on Hayes. He was better later in the year after being sent to the bench but he’s in a similar boat as Deni Avdija. The defense is mostly pretty good but, to put it politely, the offense is still very much a work in progress. He seems to suffer from similar issues with feel for the game and confidence, never knowing when to pass or when to shoot. Asking a young point guard to leave a young team where he played his best as a reserve and come to a more veteran team with higher expectations and asking him to now start games again seems like trouble waiting to happen.

Yanir: As much as like Killian Hayes’ potential and swagger, I don’t think the Wiz should trade away the 10th pick for him. So no. If it’s just trading down very few spots maybe, but nothing more. I do think that trading that 10th pick to generate 2 other first-round picks could be an interesting proposition, depending of course on what the offers are.