If you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, the Washington Wizards have emerged as the NBA’s preeminent dumpster fire. Lackadaisical defense, heated practices, and a slew of embarrassing losses have combined for one of the more volatile situations in all of basketball. Moves need to be made, but what can Washington do to rectify all of their ongoing issues?
Head coach Scott Brooks inked a massive $35 million deal in 2016. The bloated contract makes a potential buyout a non-optimal decision. Instead, the Wizards’ likely move will involve trading of one or more of their core pieces — namely the All-Star backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal. Wall’s and Beal’s hefty contracts make any potential move tricky. However, the talented duo will elicit interest from plenty of teams around the league.
I outlined four potential deals that Washington could pursue in the coming months:
Washington Receives: PG Reggie Jackson, SF Stanley Johnson, SG Khyri Thomas, first-round pick
Detroit Receives: PG John Wall
The Pistons have no choice but to be all-in. With the Andre Drummond-Blake Griffin frontcourt locked in for at least three years together, Detroit’s new front office will feel pressured to find a third wheel. Wall adds another playmaker alongside Griffin, and allows the other Pistons to settle into their respective roles. Shooting threats like Reggie Bullock and Luke Kennard instantly become more potent, and the Wall-Griffin-Drummond trio could be the Eastern Conference version of Lob City.
Jackson has been shaky since signing a five-year/$80 million deal in 2015. With that said, there’s been some newfound optimism over his recent play. Ish Smith emerging as the team’s most natural point guard has forced Jackson to play off-the-ball more. He isn’t comfortable in that spot, but has at least shown the willingness to accept a new role (6.5 three-point attempts a game is by far a career-high). Both Johnson and Thomas boast interesting defensive utility, though the former has been a major disappointment since being drafted eight overall in 2015. In a perfect world, the first-round pick Detroit sends to Washington is between 16-22 — a light price to pay for a 28-year-old five-time All-Star.
Washington Receives: SG Jeremy Lamb, SG Malik Monk, PF Marvin Williams, Protected first-round pick
Charlotte Receives: SG Bradley Beal, PF Jason Smith
The Hornets’ roster is a disservice to Kemba Walker. The former Connecticut standout has been on an absolute tear this year, and is fresh off two consecutive 40-point performances. There are plenty of playoff spots available in the Eastern Conference, and Charlotte is just one difference-maker away from taking a stranglehold on the Southeast division. Beal is an ideal fit next to Walker as a spot-up shooter that doesn’t need a high-volume of touches. Smith adds some depth to the frontcourt after sending away the longest tenured Hornet in Williams.
Monk and the first-rounder are the equally prized possessions here for the Wizards. I firmly believe in Monk’s potential as a Lou Williams-type, but he needs heavy minutes to work through all of the young mistakes.
Washington Receives: PF Julius Randle, PG Elfrid Payton, SF Solomon Hill, Protected first-round pick
New Orleans Receives: PG John Wall
Wall joins up with fellow Wildcat Anthony Davis to form one of the more exciting big-little duos in the league. The Pelicans play at one of the faster paces in basketball. Getting Wall out in transition could be the spark he needs. Over the past couple of years, Wall has preferred to slow the game down, and it’s only accentuated his inconsistent shooting and ball dominant-mindset. The Pelicans have a plethora of guys in Jrue Holliday, E’Twaun Moore and Nikola Mirotic that keep the ball moving. The ball never sticks in New Orleans offense, and that was often the issue on Wall’s Washington teams.
Randle alone is a solid haul for a guy that’s going to be owed $47 million in 2019. He’s played exceptionally well for the last year-plus, and has been a convenient fit next to Davis. That being said, virtually every player on the planet is a good fit next to Davis. The picks included in this trade is where this deal could hit a snag. Davis’ uncertain future makes a lightly-protected future Pelicans pick one of the biggest trade chips in all of basketball. Hill is added to make the contracts work, and Payton can fit in as the starting point guard for Washington’s tank squad.
Washington Receives: SF Brandon Ingram, SG Josh Hart, SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG Lance Stephenson, SF Michael Beasley
Los Angeles Receives: SG Bradley Beal, SF, Jeff Green, C Thomas Bryant
Beal is the quintessential guard to pair with LeBron. His size, length, outside shooting, and dash of playmaking is the perfect archetype as a second fiddle in Los Angeles. Some might believe the Lakers are giving up too much in this deal. However, I’m a bit less bullish on Ingram than others. It remains to be seen whether Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka share my sentiment. Hart plays hard and has shot the ball well, but he’s only two years younger than Beal — and has five less seasons of NBA experience. Stephenson and Beasley are needed to make sure the contracts match, and neither can be traded until December 15th.
It’s hard to imagine the Lakers making a considerable dent on their 2019 and 2020 payroll. The chance of signing of Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, or Klay Thompson this off-season for free (meaning not giving up any assets other than cap space) still remains in play. However, the Johnson-Pelinka brain-trust could grow impatient with the young core. This then could lead to them parting with a few pieces for a 25-year-old All-Star firmly in his prime.