Last summer the Washington Wizards traded Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for Monte Morris and Will Barton. The reasoning behind the trade initially made sense, as Washington wanted to add some scoring punch, and the pairing of Morris and Barton averaged a combined 27.3 points per game in their last season with Denver. However, in practice, the Wizards ended up buying high on two reserve players while sacrificing a knock-down shooter who started every game en route to a Finals appearance.
The main problem in acquiring Morris and Barton when the Wizards did is that Washington paid the highest possible price for the pair. Playing for the injury-decimated Nuggets, Morris and Barton both had substantially larger roles than they otherwise would have if Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. were playing. As a result, the two understandably inflated their stats and maximized their trade value.
That’s not to say the two were not good players — far from it. Morris grew into his own starting alongside Nikola Jokić, while Barton had the third-best scoring season of his career. Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard simply thought he could get 120 cents on the dollar by swapping KCP for Barton and Morris, but his gamble did not pay off. Morris is a good player and still has some room to grow, but he is more cut out for a Tyus Jones-type of backup point guard role. Barton, on the other hand, struggled in Washington and didn’t last. His scoring average halved to just 7.7 points per game on a putrid 38.7% shooting from the field. After a series of DNPs, Barton was bought out by the Wizards and finished out the season in a third-string role for the Toronto Raptors.
Considering how KCP has played for Denver, fit was clearly not the issue in Washington. KCP is a seamless a fit on any contending team with his blend of reliable shooting and on-ball defense.
In retrospect, the trade was a definite loss for the Wizards. While Morris is a good player, KCP adds a more diverse scoring package and substantially better defense to a contending team; plus, after a rough first half of the season, the Wizards paid Barton to take his talents to another team.