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January mailbag: Your Wizards and Mystics questions answered

Time to get to your questions

NBA-Philadelphia 76ers at Washington Wizards Photo by Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Thank you for your responses to this month’s mailbag. The answers are below.

Should the Mystics trade their 2023 first round pick? (Demj)

For now, they shouldn’t. That said, if the Mystics win the Breanna Stewart sweepstakes, it would make sense to shop Myisha Hines-Allen and the first round pick for perhaps another two impact, although not All-Star caliber players.

Is Wes Unseld, Jr.’s job safe? (GreatWallofWizards)

It is safer than it should be. If the Wizards finish close to the 10th seed in the East, then I can see them bringing Unseld back for at least one more season. But so far, there isn’t much to show for his season and a half.

Do you think Rui Hachimura will improve in a new city, with new surroundings, and new system? Could he get more playing time opportunities? (GreatWallofWizards)

Let me preface this question and say that GWOW asked this before Hachimura was traded to the Lakers. Now that I got that out of the way, the Lakers have two of the most accomplished veterans in the NBA in LeBron James and Anthony Davis. James in particular is regarded as the Greatest Player of All Time (yes, the GOAT) to Gen Z.

(As a millennial, I say it is Michael Jordan.)

Anyway, Hachimura could improve by picking James’ and Davis’ brains. As for getting more playing time, he’s staying as a reserve for the rest of the year, so if anything his time is going down in LA for the short term.

Longer term, it’s possible he could be a regular starter. I’ll be rooting for him.

How do you think the Wizards can offer a contract to Kyle Kuzma and stay under the tax? Do you think they plan on trading other players (ex: Morris/Avdija/Wright/Kispert) for expiring? Do you think they plan to nagotioate a long term deal for KP (I’m not sure how that works because he isn’t likely to get less than $30M a year)? Perhaps Tommy trades the 2023 draft pick? (Gaboshyn)

I think the Wizards are going to have to do something along the lines of what you suggested to stay under the luxury tax, though I’m not exactly sure what the figures are for the 2023-24 NBA season. Let’s say Washington makes a big run at the end of the regular season and makes it to the second round of the playoffs. That COULD (I repeat, C-O-U-L-D) encourage the Wizards to go a small amount over the tax so they can re-sign Kuzma. Regardless, re-signing him will likely mean parting ways with another younger player like an Avdija or Kispert.

How warm do you think Tommy Sheppard’s seat is right now? If he doesn’t make the playoffs this season, does he get fired? (Jayscott)

It’s possible that Ted Leonsis could have told Sheppard, “Make the postseason and stay or you’re gone” before this season. That would explain why Sheppard has been making short-term moves. I do think his seat is warmer than Monumental Sports & Entertainment would have you believe.

Is it really a possibility that the Mystics get Breanna Stewart? What? OMG! (Jayscott)

As of right now (meaning Tuesday evening), it is. Also, as some other commenters and folks on social media said, even if the Mystics don’t get Stewart, it shows how much better the Mystics are viewed by WNBA teams and superstar players than their NBA counterparts apparently do for the Wizards.

When the Wizards don’t make the playoffs this year, who will be accountable and do you anticipate any changes? (Stephen Weaver)

Besides the obvious (Ted and Tommy), I think we’ll have to take a deep look at Wes Unseld, Jr. and whether he should stay. Do the Wizards make the most out of their next 10 games and get a run toward that play-in berth? Could they make the Round of 16? If so, Unseld is held accountable (in a positive way) for that.

Let’s say the Wizards get close or even to the 10th seed and then fall out of the running without major injuries. Should that happen, while I still see Unseld coming back in most circumstances, this is the type of scenario where he gets nervous.

Sheppard’s seat has certainly gotten much warmer since drafting Johnny Davis, that’s for sure. But I guess Davis will get more chance next year, and he’ll need a phenomenal Summer League if he wants any hope at a one-year extension for his rookie scale contract.