Washington came into Tuesday night’s game with a pathetic record of 5-11. They were down by as many as 24 points. Boos rained upon them on the court. It appeared as though it was curtains for these Wizards.
Even with all the crap that they had gone through, both on and off the court, Washington managed to do the impossible: Facilitate a comeback. Through the efforts of John Wall, Bradley Beal, Markieff Morris, and Jeff Green, the Wizards toppled the streaking Clippers. Given how well LA has been playing, and that Washington started Thomas Bryant at center, that is an impressive win.
Maybe this victory is what turns things around for professional basketball in the nation’s capital. A 6-11 record, as underwhelming as it looks, puts the Wizards only 10th overall in the Eastern Conference, and two and a half games in back of the Orlando Magic for the eighth seed. The Wizards are down, but they’re not out, so things should be looking up, all things considered, right?
Well, after beating the Clippers, Markieff Morris had this to say to Candace Buckner after being asked if it was nice to get the win.
“Not really. It’s f***ed up what’s going on,” Morris said. “The comments that’s coming from the locker room is f****ed up. That don’t happen in locker rooms.”
Whatever kind of circus is going on with the Wizards, there’s nothing stopping it. If you’ve been in the loop, you know what’s been going on. What’s appalling is that nobody is pulling their punches. Props to Morris for being candid, but even in rare positive moments like beating a good team, we just get more and more proof that the Wizards are beyond the point of no return.
Yet, with all the talent they have, things shouldn’t be this bad. That’s the sad part. Beating the Clippers shouldn’t be a milestone for this team. But it is, because things are this bad.
The upshot for the Wizards is the talent they have. Together it appears that John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter Jr. can’t form an elite team. Separately though, they could help form others should they find new teams.
Now that the Wizards are entertaining trade offers, it’s time to look what their top three players could fetch back, and who might be interested. First, let’s start with the one who would get back the most.
As one of the league’s more respectable scorers and most elite shooters, Bradley Beal’s services would be very useful to just about every team in the league. If Beal is on the open market, he should easily fetch back the most value out of the three since his contract is the shortest and the most affordable.
His numbers have been down so far this season. 21.5 points on 45.5 percent shooting including an uncharacteristically low 34 percent from three this season does not help his trade value. In his defense, his statistical drop off may stem from the tense locker room he has to take part in. Teams should know that at 25 years old, and having put up better numbers in the past, Beal’s best stuff is probably yet to come.
The most realistic interested parties would be ones who have young talent while also believing they are one piece away from contender status. Teams that come to mind are Denver, Utah and the Lakers.
Beal is really suited for a No. 2 type role rather than an alpha dog. All of the teams mentioned have designated superstar on their team already that just need the second banana. Jamal Murray, Dante Exum and Lonzo Ball is not a king’s ransom in a trade for Beal, but if that’s the best they can get, then they may not have a choice.
Another intriguing option would be Portland. Everything is going the Trail Blazers’ way right now. They currently sit atop the Western Conference, and one of the main ingredients to their success has been their familiarity. They would have a good package for Beal if they got CJ McCollum involved. McCollum is a fantastic player, but Beal is an upgrade. Throw in Zach Collins, who’s been awesome his sophomore year, and maybe there could be a framework for a deal.
Nobody would blame Portland if they stood pat. Still, don’t be surprised if they make some inquiries.
The real X-factor to a potential Beal trade would come down to who would be willing to take Ian Mahinmi’s contract with him. If the Wizards rebuild, they’ll want to carve out some salary cap space. The first team to agree to absorb Mahinmi’s contract may be the winner in the Beal sweepstakes.
Much like Beal, Porter’s numbers have also dipped this season, which again can be attributed to the hostility in the Wizard’s locker room. 10.6 points on 46 percent shooting including 36 percent from three is not great from someone who is getting paid over $26 million.
Again, like Beal, we know that Porter is capable of much more. The man has shot 40 percent from three for his career and has a reputation for being one of the elite three-and-D players in the NBA. If he’s put on the right team that can help him pick his spots, then he should return to the terrific player he’s been for the Wizards over the past couple of seasons.
Reportedly, New Orleans is interested in Porter, which makes a lot of sense because they’ve sorely lacked a player like Porter on their team. The Pelicans may be hesitant to offer Julius Randle, whose proved to be a bargain, for Porter, who is overpaid for what he brings. Besides that, they don’t have much else to offer.
One team to keep an eye on would be Houston. After losing out on Jimmy Butler, the Rockets may try to woo Washington with an offer similar to the one they proposed for Butler. They have picked up on defense since moving on from Carmelo, but Porter would be the Trevor Ariza replacement that they’ve needed. If not, more so.
Porter’s skill set could help many teams in this league, but for what he’s being paid, teams may not willing to be in the luxury tax for him. His next destination may hinge on who is the most desperate for his services.
To think, John Wall is designated as the Wizards’ best player, has been a multi-time All-Star, is only 28, and yet, many believe that by next year he’ll have one of the worst contracts in the NBA.
This time next year, Wall will be paid $37.8 million, and that number will steadily rise by three million each year when his contract extension kicks in. Because of that, trading Wall is going to be a tough task.
Still, he’s John Wall. Though both his numbers have dipped and his ego has manifested itself over the past couple of years, getting him while his trade value is arguably at its lowest is a rare opportunity. The man finished seventh in MVP voting just two years ago, and perhaps he just needs a change of scenery in which he could play for a team that suits his style.
That $40+ million is a steep price to pay, but there are teams already paying a hefty price who could use an upgrade from their current point guard situation. Teams like Miami and Detroit fit that bill.
Miami could use Wall because they’re paying a hefty tax bill as it is, and Wall has much more left of his prime than Goran Dragic. Miami also has decent young talent in Justise Winslow and Bam Adebayo. The one qualm is that Washington may be hesitant to trade in the same division.
Detroit could use Wall because he’s an upgrade over Reggie Jackson and they made a similar trade for Blake Griffin last season, but they have no good assets to offer at all.
Washington may also look to teams who need a point guard, period, like the Phoenix Suns. Given that they are 3-13 and one of the youngest teams in the league, getting Wall wouldn’t be very wise. Another team deprived of a talented point guard is Orlando, who is currently fighting for a playoff spot. Wall could solve their problems, but it would depend on what the Magic would be willing to trade for him.
Wall is certainly not playing up to standards, but he has plenty of good basketball left in him. While it may be too late for him to bring a title to Washington, there’s plenty of time for him to be a vital player to a championship team.
The one common pattern between these three is that all of their numbers are down, which hurts their trade value. What’s worse for Washington is that the teams who would be interested in their three best players will probably be teams who don’t have much young value to offer.
If there’s one team Washington can learn from in this sticky situation, it’s Minnesota.
The longer this drama drags out, the worse things get.