Steven Bagell of SportsEthos and the Bird Rights podcast is hosting a mock trade deadline where one person acts as the general manager for each NBA team. I was selected to represent the Wizards throughout the exercise.
I tried to approach it from the same general mindset as the Wizards’ actual front office. Based on all of the reporting we’ve seen, they are not looking to move Kyle Kuzma at the deadline. However, I assumed that if the right offer presented itself they would still pull the trigger. I talked about my rationale and the moves I did and didn’t make on this week’s Bleav in Wizards podcast.
They need to find a way to get long-term financial flexibility but they also want to still make a playoff push. With that in mind, I was only open to a package that could potentially make them better in the long run but also not cause them to bottom out today. Taking back draft picks and salary filler didn’t seem plausible to me.
The first deal I was offered was from the Miami Heat, represented by Bagell, and consisted of Caleb Martin, Dewayne Dedmon, and a first-round pick. Dedmon has been receiving DNPs for most of this season so he’s essentially just salary filler. That effectually reduces this trade down to Caleb Martin and a late first-round pick. That didn’t seem like enough for the Wizards to realistically consider given how much they like Kuzma
The other offer was from the Sacramento Kings for two of their young players. The trade was Keegan Murray, last year‘s lottery pick, and Davion Mitchell, a lottery pick from the season before, for Kyle Kuzma and Vernon Carey Jr. As the self-appointed President of the Kyle Kuzma Fan Club, it really pained me to do it but I accepted this deal.
Murray is averaging 12.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1 assist and is hitting 42.2% of his three-point shots this season. Over the last two weeks, he’s averaging 15.5 points, 7 rebounds, and 1 assist. This season, Mitchell is averaging 5.9 points, 1.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists on 33.9% three-point shooting. But last season in an increased role, he averaged 11.5 points, 2.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists on 31.6% three-point shooting.
To be clear, I don’t think the Kings would or should do this in real life. However, their GM was able to justify it and the Kings have an owner that’s very insistent on going all-in to win now. Sound familiar? Perhaps that’s enough for them to want to make a move for a player like Kyle Kuzma. He also did this with the expectation that Kuzma would then re-sign there.
The other player I was actively looking to trade was Rui Hachimura but the other GMs have been considerably less interested in him so far. Once the exercise started, we went with the rosters as-is, which meant we didn’t include the Lakers trade. Although, the Wizards moving him in real life motivated me to try and move him in the exercise as well.
The Clippers were willing to trade Hachimura for John Wall straight up. But given all the reports that the Clippers are looking for upgrades at point guard, I didn’t think that was much of a ringing endorsement for Wall’s play this season.
The other move I explored was for Hachimura for Zach Collins from San Antonio. I thought Collins’ ability to play both power forward and some center would give the Wizards some additional positional versatility. Collins was also good in 22 minutes against the Wizards last night, recording 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Unfortunately, as we got deeper into the conversation San Antonio said they would also want a first-round pick. I immediately turned that down as I don’t think someone with Collins’ injury history warrants that level of compensation. I think I could have justified including a second-round pick to account for Collins having an additional year of team control from a contract perspective.
How have I done as the Wizards’ mock general manager? Did I totally blow it or am I getting it right so far? Also, let me know if there are other players you think I should target between now and the end of the exercise.