When was the last time the Washington Wizards were good? You may be scratching your head right now, trying to recall a time when John Wall wasn’t fat, Otto Porter Jr. wasn’t being paid more than double his points per game in millions of dollars and Bradley Beal wasn’t toiling away in misery.
In truth, the Wizards were good just two years ago. I know, it’s a lot to take in, but that 2016-17 Washington team finished first in the Southeast Division while sniffing 50 wins, got Otto Porter Jr. paid like a star and almost made the conference finals, falling 4-3 to the Celtics in the Klash of Kellys.
Recent reports say every player on the roster is available in trade talks, suggesting that this messy iteration of the Wizards is ready to move on, maybe by blowing it all up. Now that dysfunction in D.C. has spread from the White House to the Wiz, let’s talk about the top landing spots for the team’s three most valuable, or at least highest paid, players.
Where do we build (around) the Wall?
Trump may want to build a wall, but D.C. doesn’t want to build around one anymore, and with his four-year, $170 million contract kicking off next season, what team will? Another question: Which teams are lacking a point guard right now?
Wall used to be a player with pep in his step and promise in his play, but those days are over in Washington. Situation matters, and the Wizards haven’t made it past the second round of the playoffs since Wall was drafted, while management has made plenty of questionable, win-now moves in that span. Maybe John just needs a fresh start to make him the Great Wall again.
His contract will make it tough to move him, but Washington should be able to get some sort of valuable return. The Suns are the obvious option, as they’re in dire need of a point guard and have assets to send back. The Jazz are an interesting option as a team that could be looking to shake things up after a disappointing start. They’re currently tied for 13th in the West and the Ricky Rubio experiment has been mediocre per usual. Maybe they’d want to rid themselves of Rubio and/or Derrick Favors and take a chance on a big name.
What’s the Deal with Beal?
Washington’s biggest trade asset, best player and least grumpy guy is on a contract that makes sense for him and he has gotten better every year he’s been in the league, besides this one.
Everyone in Washington is struggling though, so I wouldn’t blame Beal. A 25-year-old who’s a career 39 percent shooter from 3-point range and is a capable playmaker is a really valuable player, so the return for Beal if he gets moved should be huge.
It’s easy to find a team Beal would fit on. It’s tougher to find one with the assets to get a deal done.
The Lakers are primed to make a deal with the young talent on the roster, especially if they’re willing to give up Brandon Ingram, but the team’s in a groove right now which might make management hesitant on a deal.
The Clippers would be my number one choice for Beal if they weren’t top in the West right now. Still, the team has to know it won’t be this way come playoff time, and having a proven star like Beal in the playoffs would be a huge advantage. They have the assets to send Washington, a young point guard to grow with Beal and complementary role players to play alongside him and be competitive. If I was handling the Clippers’ Tinder, Beal would be super-liked already.
The $25 million mystery man
That number above is roughly what Otto Porter Jr. will be making this season for… being the only person I know with the name Otto? It’s a great achievement and a unique name, but there’s really nothing the guy’s doing on the court to justify that contract, especially considering he’ll be making more than that in each of the next two years.
So why trade for Porter? Here’s the thing, we know what he CAN be. He CAN be a 6-foot-8-inch, multi-positional wing defender that shoots over 43 percent from 3-point land. We’ve seen him do that twice. We just need to know if that’s all it is, and if getting out of Washington will at least bring that player back. It’s a gamble that might be worth taking for a few teams, because 3-and-D guys are a hot commodity, and everyone wants in.
I’ve seen the Pelicans discussed as a player in the Otto game because they’ve lacked wing talent since drafting Anthony Davis. I’d like to see the Nuggets mentioned in talks for Porter. They have Paul Millsap’s contract that includes a team option for next year, so Washington could do with that as they please, which I would assume would be clearing cap space. Porter would slide in as the three or four in a Nuggets lineup that has also severely lacked wing depth for a while now. He might be as good of a defender as an aging Paul Millsap, and his shooting and play style would help open the floor for Nikola Jokic in ways that Millsap simply can’t. Plus, the Nuggets will eventually get rookie Michael Porter Jr. on the floor, so the Porter Jr. jersey debacle would only add to the fun. Save this man, Denver!
Zac Lane is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.