By: Mike Patt
Original Date: 12/17/22
Hello sports fans, and welcome back to the IE Sports Radio Blog. The 2022-23 NBA regular season is about one-third of the way to it’s completion, and we are starting to see some of the expected favorites emerge and pull away from the pack. My favorite team, the Washington Wizards…is not one of those favorites. They have lost 8 in a row, 12 out of 13, and currently sit in 12th place in the Eastern Conference at 11-18. There brief early season success (they had a winning record and made it as high as the 6th seed) has been derailed by injuries and inconsistent line-up rotations. Barring a dramatic turnaround, the Wizards seem destined for little more than a play-in game with the opportunity to be demolished by the Milwaukee Bucks or Boston Celtics.
I have been vocal about my feelings towards the Wizards as of late. I have used words such as average, mid, and disappointing to describe the franchise as a whole. Well, this is their opportunity to begin the process of changing that. Washington has been in the state of “retooling” versus rebuilding over the past decade. There have been some major moves, but none of them have been with the intention to start over. Other teams are showing the initiative to trade stars/major pieces for multiple draft picks. It is time for the Wizards to do the same, and this is how they could do it:
Not Worth Trading/Lower End Pieces – Johnny Davis, Monte Morris, Deni Avdija, Taj Gibson, Anthony Gill, Vernon Carey, Isaiah Todd, Devon Dotson, Jordan Goodwin, Will Barton, Delon Wright
Any player can be traded at the deadline, no matter how insignificant. It’s just a question of what their return is and whether they are adding value to the deal or just offsetting salary cap (a common component of NBA trades is for the salaries in the deal to be close to matching). Most of these guys would only be salary offsets, as they have not shown enough on the court this year to bring significant value. Some of the younger guys, like Avdija or Goodwin, could fetch a 2nd round pick, but not much more. The interesting names on this list are Barton and Wright. If Barton was shooting better from three, and Wright had not gotten hurt, there would be an argument for both to be major pieces. Sadly, reality takes precedence over “Ifs”, so here they sit.
Borderline Major Pieces – Corey Kispert, Daniel Gafford, Rui Hachimura
Here we have an intriguing trio with uncertain trade value. Kispert is not setting the league on fire with his 10 points per game, but his 42% shooting from three on almost five attempts per game is going to be attractive to someone. Hachimura is dealing with injury issues for the second year in a row, but offers versatility and depth of the bench and is shooting almost 50% from the field. Gafford isn’t getting enough playing time, which is affecting any trade value. However, his 72% field goal rate would be good for second in the league if he qualified, and his 1.1 blocks in 14 minutes a game is impressive. Gafford is hindered by his contract was well, which averages $13.4 million per year over the next three seasons (pretty rich unless he is your starting center).
Major Pieces – Kyle Kuzma, Kristaps Porzingis
There are a surprising number of similarities between “Kuz” and “KP”. Both were cast-offs from their previous teams who the Wizards acquired in favorable trades and have player options next year that they are likely to decline and leave the team anyways. Not to mention averaging over 20 PPG this year while shooting between 45-50% from the field and just shy of 35% from three. KP is making more money, and therefor will cost a team more in cap space, but he also brings better rebounding and defense (1.6 blocks per game, 10th in the league). There is the injury history, but he is playing at an all-star level and should have plenty of suitors in the trade market.
Kuz may be more difficult to discern. He is putting up career highs in points and assists, and his second best rebounding rate, but also seeing the most minutes and usage of his career. His shooting percentages are on par with his career averages, and his turnovers are up. I do not know if he is any better than a third option on a championship roster, and if he is third or lower, will he get the ball enough to continue his production? That is a major question, but I could see a team giving up either a late first round or lottery protected pick for a 3rd-4th option. KP could fetch a little more of a return, as I think he could be a missing piece for a championship contender.
The Tough One – Bradley Beal
And now we come to the most polarizing discussion topic; what to do about Bradley Beal. The long-time Wizards star is good enough to fetch quality compensation on the trade market. However, there are several factors that play into this equation. One is the injury bug. He had not had many problems before last year, but issues linger which could affect his value. Another is the contract he just signed, which is one of the biggest in the league and would be tough for most teams to take on. The last factor would be that Beal, while very good, may not be the alpha player teams need to take them over the top. All of these aspects will limit his market and affect the return, and if you do not get the right return, it won’t be worthwhile to make the deal.
Of course, the big question on everyone’s mind is whether or not the front office will pull the trigger on some of these moves. It makes sense on paper, but less sense when you remember that the Wizards are an average franchise that makes average moves. Time will tell, but this fan right here is understandably skeptical. Be sure to tune in to all of our wonderful shows we have throughout the week on Spreaker.com and YouTube. Shout out to our patreon supporters and all our loyal fans that continue to help IESR grow. Check out our website, iesportsradio.com, and follow us on all social media platforms for the latest sports news. Thank you for reading, and we will see you next time on IE Sports Radio; your direct feed for ALL that is sports.
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