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Part 3: Who could be some of the Wizards’ trade targets?

Today, we will finish our discussion on potential Wizards trade targets.

NBA: Orlando Magic at Washington Wizards Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Our third and final piece of a series evaluating twelve players that the Wizards could consider taking a “big swing” to return in a trade. These are less likely candidates but are worth discussing.

For our previous two parts, click on the links below:

Kyrie Irving

Overall Acquirability: Very Likely

Cost of Return: Fairly Low for Talent Level

Fit with Beal & Porzingis: Questionable

Contract: 1 year, $36.94M

Nets Want: Immediate contributor(s) to keep competing

It is no secret that Irving is on the market as an available player for trade. Despite his overwhelming talent offensively with ball handling and shooting, he has not proven that he can elevate a team in the playoffs that doesn’t include LeBron James. His defense is sometimes passable and he can make plays for others when it suits him.

On the court, an Irving and Beal backcourt could be the best in the league on the offensive end. Both can score at all three levels, shoot capably, and pass too. Defensively, they would bleed points. But, the two together paired with Porzingis in the frontcourt would lead the Wizards to one of the best offenses in the league.

I’ve listed Irving because his trade value is assumed to be quite low. A trade for Irving would be the definition of high risk due to his propensity to not play at times, injuries, and vaccination status while also paired with contractual and age concerns. The Wizards very likely will not consider this deal. But it qualifies as a big swing and if the season gets off to a slow start, the odds of them thinking about it go up – much like the want to trade for Porzingis did last season.

Potential Cost: Will Barton, Kyle Kuzma, Vernon Carey Jr., Isaiah Todd

Jonathan Isaac

Overall Acquirability: Likely

Cost of Return: Low

Fit with Beal & Porzingis: Good

Contract: 3 years, $52.2M. Only $7.6M guaranteed in 2023-2024, non-guaranteed in 2024-2025

Magic Want: Shooting, better fits around Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner

The plan with this list was not to highlight players who have played significantly less than they have sat on the bench over the past two years. But, when considering how to substantially improve the talent level for the Wizards, it is going to take a high level of risk. Isaac is a very dicey proposition indeed.

Offensively, he profiles as average at best. He’s shown limited shooting ability, won’t be a player to create off of the dribble and mostly relies on athleticism off of cuts and rebounds to generate his points. Defensively, he was a joy to watch prior to consecutive knee injuries. Standing 6 foot 10 with great agility, instincts, and verticality he flashed major potential on this end.

His defense, and his contract, are the main reasons to pursue Isaac. The Wizards lack the personnel and mindset to play enough quality defense to become a better overall team. Isaac may provide a big boost. Better yet, his contract modification following his injuries has built in a way for a team to exit the partnership if injuries continue or he comes back a lesser player. If he looks like the player he did prior to the unfortunate injuries, it is a good contract for a player like him. If not, they are out of it pretty easily.

Likely Cost: Corey Kispert, Will Barton, 2nd round pick

*Note: apparently Isaac had another procedure, but on his hamstring following last season. ACL surgeries often involve using part of the hamstring so this is concerning. I learned this after submitting this for editing and think it’s probably even more unlikely that the Wizards entertain this move now with this knowledge in mind.

The following players are names to consider further down the line. Each could come available during the season.

Andrew Wiggins

Overall Acquirability: Somewhat Unlikely

Cost of Return: Questionable

Fit with Beal & Porzingis: Good

Contract: 1 year, $33.62M

Warriors Want: Save money but playoff rotation players

The Warriors just broke an all-time record with a $170.3M luxury tax payment on top of the payroll commitment, leaving them with $346.2M paid. That large payment was a major factor in the Warriors winning the NBA Championship but ownership has to be debating whether this type of spending is repeatable. The sentimental value of longtime Warriors and repeat champions Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson leaves Wiggins as a clear favorite to be traded to save money. Him being in a contract year makes it more likely.

The Wizards have lacked a true small forward with two-way capabilities for a number of years. A perimeter defender of Wiggins’ standing would be a fine addition, and he can contribute offensively inside and out, albeit on an inconsistent basis. Wiggins turns 28 just after the All-Star break but appears to have lost little to no athleticism over the years. There should be concern about how well Wiggins would play in the Wizards environment compared to the Warriors, i.e. one that has about the best leadership in sports. But the talent and fit make him worthwhile for D.C. Matching salary is a challenge, though. Kuzma and Avdija seem like good fits for the Warriors. But that leaves them around $7.3M short of what is needed to match for a trade. I would guess Delon Wright is suitable as a third piece for Golden State, assuming that they see no need for Will Barton with Jordan Poole and Donte Divincenzo already coming off the bench. Morris is available sooner but Wiggins could be a name to watch mid-season when trade restrictions are lifted.

Likely Cost: Kuzma, Monte Morris (or Delon Wright after mid-December), Avdija

Deandre Ayton

Overall Acquirability: Likely

Cost of Return: Medium

Fit with Beal & Porzingis: Questionable

Contract: 4 years, $132.93M

Yes, Ayton just re-signed for a massive four year deal in Phoenix. No, it didn’t appear that Phoenix was excited to match the offer sheet presented to Ayton by the Indiana Pacers. Likely, Phoenix identified that it was going to be difficult to return fair value for Ayton with Base Year Compensation only allowing them to take back 50% of the number that Ayton would’ve signed for in a sign & trade. So, either Ayton plays and behaves well for the Suns, or he is on the market in mid-December.

He would be a highly-debated fit on the Wizards but consider me in the camp of those who think he would be a fine fit. He’s shown he can defend the rim and perimeter, is elite in the pick and roll and at finishing on the interior, and has flashed room for growth with outside shooting. He’s young and has performed on the biggest of stages; plus he only turns 24 years old on July 23rd.

I’d be keeping a close watch here. Phoenix will be cutting costs this season as their luxury tax bill is far larger than it’s ever been and Robert Sarver does not have a great track record of spending.

Likely Cost: Kuzma, Barton, Daniel Gafford and Wright/Morris with a lightly protected first round pick for Ayton, Landry Shamet, Torrey Craig.

RJ Barrett

Overall Acquirability: Low

Cost of Return: High

Fit with Beal & Porzingis: Very Good

Contract: 1 year, $10.9M then restricted free agency

Knicks Want: More proven talent to win now

Barrett is an important piece of what New York is trying to build. He is an adept defender, solid athlete and passer, and has shown an affinity for getting to the rim. His outside shooting leaves some to be desired and his efficiency has been below average so far in his career. He’ll be a restricted free agent after this season.

He hasn’t yet proven to be a surefire player to pay on a long term deal at a high cost of a max contract or over $25M per season. Depending on how negotiations go, it could provide opportunity for the Wizards. Let’s say the Knicks acquire Donovan Mitchell for a package centered around picks. If that happens, Barrett isn’t a great fit next to two ball dominant guards.

He would provide the Wizards with needed defense on the wing and Porzingis with Kuzma or whoever is at power forward provides far, far better spacing than a Mitchell Robinson and Julius Randle frontcourt that Barrett currently has to drive into. The Knicks have plenty of unwanted contracts: Randle, Evan Fournier, Derrick Rose. Might the Wizards be able to swing a deal for Barrett while taking back some bad money? Odds are, the Knicks come to an agreement on an extension with Barrett but this bears monitoring.

Potential Cost: Kuzma, Barton, Rui Hachimura, Kispert for Randle & Barrett