The Washington Wizards will enter the February 8th trade deadline as one of the NBA’s top sellers. With a multitude of veterans on expiring deals, contenders will be blowing up the phones in D.C. as they search for the final piece to their championship puzzles.
The new brass in Washington has brought forth a fresh start, one of rebuilding and development. First-year GM Will Dawkins and first-year president of basketball operations Michael Winger have stressed patience as they begin what’s expected to be a lengthy rebuild.
Moving on from Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis was the introductory act of this new regime. Act number two: signing Kyle Kuzma and trading for Jordan Poole. Act number three: moving veterans on expiring contracts to extract maximum value and stockpile picks.
Those moves will take place a month from today when the NBA’s annual trade deadline happens. Below, I will outline who I believe will be traded, who i think will stay, and who the Wizards won’t even take calls on.
The categories are as follows:
- Likely to be traded
- Could be moved, could be kept
- Would be complete surprise
***I am not an insider. I have zero sources on these predictions. These are my thoughts and my thought only. Enjoy!
Likely To Be Traded:
Acquired in an offseason trade that sent Kristaps Porzingis to Boston and Marcus Smart to Memphis, Jones came to Washington with a chance to earn the starting PG job. He did just that, and has played quite well in his new role. For the fifth year in a row, Jones leads the NBA in assist-to-turnover ratio. Starting every game thus far, the ninth-year PG is averaging 12.5 points and 5.5 assists while shooting an impressive 43.3% from three.
Apart from Kuzma, Jones looks to be the most coveted trade asset the Wizards have, and means he’s likely gone by the deadline. As much as I like Jones’ game and think he’s done well here, picking up a first-round pick for a guy on an expiring deal that might not return is something the Wizards simply can’t pass up.
According to a tweet by Jake Weinbach, teams interested in Jones include Houston, Philadelphia and Orlando. To me, Philly makes the most sense. Apart from Maxey, they don’t have a secondary ball handler that can control the second-unit offense. Jones fits that need perfectly, and can be had with the picks the Sixers picked up in the Harden trade, or their own FRP’s. The Knicks also make sense after trading PG Immanuel Quickley.
Tyus Jones —> Philadelphia
Robert Covington, Furkan Korkmaz and a 2024 unprotected first-round pick —> Washington
One of the league’s best perimeter defenders should be made available come February, and I’d expect a plethora of teams to show interest. A left knee sprain sidelined Wright for more than half of this season, but he’s shown enough to warrant interest. Contending teams in need of defense make sense, such as the Indiana Pacers and Sacramento Kings.
Wright is on an expiring $8.1 million deal, which should make moving his salary rather easy. I doubt he nets the return Jones does, but he’s still a valuable asset.
My prediction: Wright gets moved for two second-round picks
A guy that can come off the bench and knock down threes while also defending the perimeter at a high level is coveted across the league. Those types of “3 & D” players feature on almost every championship team, a reason I believe Shamet will have suitors.
The seventh-year guard has been traded four times in his career, a very high number. Teams covet his shooting ability. If Washington decides to move on, a late-round pick plus a salary filler or young player make the most sense.
My prediction: Shamet gets sent to a contender for a second-round pick + salary filler
This is where things get tricky. Do the Wizards want to move on from Muscala? Yes. Is there a market for Muscala? That’s the real question. The stretch big man didn’t play much in the early goings of the season, but has recently emerged as the true backup center behind Daniel Gafford.
Big men that can space the floor with outside shooting usually bring back some quality picks, but Muscala’s shot has failed him thus far. At a poor 28.6% 3pt, I’m not sure his play has warranted the return Wizards fans want. Could they entice a desperate team to send over a pick for Muscala? Maybe. Only time will tell.
My prediction: Muscala stays put, Wizards aren’t able to find a deal
Look. I think both Gallinari and the Wizards organization would benefit from a deal. The issue is that at 35 years old and in the midst of an injury-plagued season, Gallinari doesn’t make much sense for contending teams. Do you really want to throw a guy that can barely move into a key playoff game? I doubt it, which is why a deal being made seems farfetched.
My prediction: Gallinari stays in D.C., reaches a buyout agreement shortly after the deadline
Could Be Moved, Could Be Kept
Let me preface this by saying I don’t believe Kuzma will be moved, nor do I believe it’s in the best interest of the team to move him. However, with reports circulating that teams could offer multiple first-round picks for the Wizards star player, Washington’s front office would be dumb to not at least entertain those calls.
Desperate teams like the Lakers or Warriors could be forced into going all in for Kuzma, a player that spaces the floor and adds size to the frontcourt. His play has improved each year with the Wizards as he’s gotten an increased workload. I fully expect his name to generate buzz in the trade market, but I think he’ll stay put.
Additionally, the contract he signed last offseason has decreasing value. The money is big up front in years one and two, then is intentionally lowered to make the contract tradable. So, for right now, a deal doesn’t make sense. A year or two down the line and I think talks could start heating up.
My prediction: Kuzma stays in D.C.
Gafford is an interesting case, for teams in need of center depth should have him atop their list. His rim protection has been the lone bright spot defensively for the Wizards this season apart from Bilal Coulibaly. The 6’10” center is efficient as well, shooting nearly 70% from the field.
A team that makes sense is the New York Knicks, who lost center Mitchell Robinson for the season a few weeks back. Gafford plays a similar style to Robinson as a lob threat that swats shots and knows his role.
It’s hard to move on from Gafford knowing the person he is within the community, attending charity events and making a real impact. However, the NBA is a business, and it would make sense for the Wizards to cash in on peak value for their starting center.
Daniel Gafford, Landry Shamet —> New York
Evan Fournier and a 2024 first-round pick (via NYK) —> Washington
Would be a Complete Surprise
- Jordan Poole
- Corey Kispert
- Deni Avdija
- Bilal Coulibaly
- Ryan Rollins
- Patrick Baldwin Jr.
- Johnny Davis
I’ve seen some rumors involving both Jordan Poole and Corey Kispert, but trading those guys makes no sense. You’re not going to get much of a return for Poole, so it’s better to just keep him and hope he figures it out. His contract is hefty, and getting off of it would help, but the Wizards won’t be spenders in free agency any time soon, so I think eating that contract is okay for the time being.
As for Kispert, you’d get a first-round pick in return, but is that pick truly worth it? The selection would be made somewhere in the late 20s, and you would be banking on drafting someone that will develop as well as Kispert has, which is easier said than done. I understand that Kispert will demand decent money in a year or two, but I’m perfectly fine paying him $15 million per year to be a terrific shooter. For me, I see Kispert here for the long haul, so keeping him makes the most sense.
Bilal Coulibaly and Deni Avdija will not be traded. Coulibaly is the most recent draft pick and has developed nicely thus far. As for Avdija, the Wizards signed him to a new deal a few months back, signaling his spot in this rebuild.
Patrick Baldwin Jr. and Ryan Rollins could be thrown in as trade fillers should a big deal be made, but I don’t see that happening. They were acquired for a reason last offseason and should see increased playing time once all these veterans are moved.
Johnny Davis hasn’t looked good since joining the Wizards as the 10th pick in the 2022 draft. His trade value is extremely low, so don’t expect him to be moved.
I also recorded a podcast where i discussed these potential trades in depth. you can listen here:
Let me know what you think about my predictions in the comments below! Feel free to drop your own trade predictions as well.