The Washington Wizards are in trouble, and it might be time to make some drastic changes to try and right the ship. Even with a roster that includes names like Wall, Bradley Beal, and Dwight Howard, the team has tanked so far this season. Something isn’t clicking.
They’re a dismal 5-11–and it’s been evident even in the body language of the players that something’s gotta give.
Adrian Wojnarowski reported this morning that the Wizards are now giving the impression that nobody on their roster is exempt from trade talks–even franchise faces such as John Wall and Bradley Beal–as they desperately try to salvage the future of the franchise.
Wall and Beal had been previously unavailable as the Wizards held discussions in the recent past to acquire Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler (and–probably because of that exact lack of trade power–the Washington franchise they came up 0-2 on those deals). It’s time to follow through, and it’ll take some bold moves to save Scott Brooks’s team long-term.
Wall leaving the franchise would be a blockbuster trade, but it won’t be an easy task. The All-Star has a 15% trade kicker in his deal and the Wizards will want a lot in return for giving up their franchise player. That being said, there are more than a few teams that could end up in the mix.
1. The Detroit Pistons
John Wall is a huge pick-and-roll threat, and the monstrous Detroit Pistons boast just the two All-Star bigs to complement that. Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin are both juggernauts in the paint, and the team could certainly use an All-Star point guard in Wall to make for their own “Big Three”.
The time would be now for the Pistons to make the call since they won’t have cap space to sign a max free agent until 2020. Add to that the fact that Blake Griffin is entering the last few years of his prime–that athleticism won’t last forever–and the Wizards’ current woes start to sound like a gift from above.
The question is: Who can the Pistons trade, keeping Griffin and Drummond, to make up for nabbing the All-Star? Reggie Jackson and Jon Leuer would be almost sure to go, but who else? It would be tough for the team to make the right moves and acquire their three-headed monster. But if they pull it off, the already-roiling Eastern Conference could continue its unprecedented renewal into an NBA superpower to rival the West.
2. The Miami Heat
The Miami Heat were recently thought to be the frontrunners in the Jimmy Butler trade but ultimately weren’t able (or willing) to nab him. The team has a talented veteran core in Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic, and of course Dwayne Wade, but they could use some more All-Star power at the point guard position in John Wall.
They seemed at one time eager to take a step in acquiring Jimmy Butler–it could have been a major game-changer for the team that currently sits at #10 in the power-packed East–but never quite pulled the trigger. Now they have another chance to add some star power to their roster, and it could be mutually beneficial for the two teams who are now struggling in the new-look conference.
The deal would likely have to include 32-year-old Goran Dragic, but the presence of John Wall (assuming he plays to his potential) would more than make up for the loss. With Wall and Whiteside working together on the pick-and-roll, the Heat could make their way back to being a playoff contender and make the most of Whiteside’s remaining time with the franchise.
3. The Los Angeles Lakers
Rumors of a trade including Wall and Los Angeles sophomore point guard Lonzo Ball (and others) have been swirling for a few days now, even before the breaking Woj report.
The LeBron-led Lakers aren’t shy about the prospect of switching up their roster at this point in the season–they’re figuring out their identity with the still-new addition of legends James and Rondo, along with Lance Stephenson and last year’s young Lakers core. It’s a strange group, but it wouldn’t hurt to make it a bit stranger. Now’s the time to make one more blockbuster trade if they’re going to have any hope of gaining cohesion by crunch time.
The team was considering trades including Wall and Beal way back in July, and while it makes more sense for them to go for Beal right now it’s not out of the question for them to go for Wall if they can. They would probably have to give up Lonzo, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and possibly even Brandon Ingram–no small sacrifice (and can you imagine LaVar’s reaction?)–but the addition of Wall could be the spark plug the team needs to make a deep playoff run.
That being said, if the team is committed to trying to nab Kevin Durant next offseason, they may not go for either of the Wizards guards.
4. The Houston Rockets
The Rockets have been all over the place this season, and it was just recently confirmed that, yes, Carmelo Anthony is a goner. Since his departure, the Western Conference contender has seen a surge in wins and is finally seeming to play to their potential, but the addition of Wall could further assist them in getting to where they had expected to be right now, seeing as they nearly reached the Finals last season.
They weren’t able to trade for Jimmy Butler–the common thread here–but now the Houston team may have another chance to add some new energy in the place of Carmelo Anthony.
The question is: Who would go? Eric Gordon seemed to be on the table for Jimmy Butler, but with a contract like Wall’s there would need to be quite a hefty deal in place to make the numbers add up.
5. The New Orleans Pelicans
Another team that missed out on Jimmy Butler is the New Orleans Pelicans, home of MVP-hopeful Anthony Davis and the current 8th seed in the Western Conference. In spite of Davis’ indisputable superpowers, the team has mostly just treaded water during his tenure. You can hardly blame them; the Western Conference has been a tough place to make headway these last few years, and Davis doesn’t have a ton of help. Adding Wall (or Beal, for that matter) could make the difference in the Pelicans being the Bottom-Feeder That Could Have Been Great or an actual playoff contender.
Davis himself has recently commented on the burden he bears being the team’s sole superstar, so he almost definitely wouldn’t mind having a bit more help to carry the load. And, in the words of The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, “The Pelicans are under pressure to find reinforcements and prove to their franchise player that he can win at a high level in New Orleans.” They certainly are. Could Wall be the one?
During the offer-storm that was the Jimmy Butler trade, New Orleans was prepared to give up Nikola Mirotic and an unprotected 2019 first-round pick, according to The Athletic. E’Twaun Moore and Jrue Holiday were other potential parts of the deal, but the Pelicans ultimately weren’t willing to make so steep a sacrifice for a one-year-rental in Butler. The Pelicans lack depth, so it’ll be hard to give up what little they have in return for a star player, but with Wall having a few years left on his (insanely expensive) contract it’d almost certainly be a better gamble.
Either way, desperate times call for desperate measures, and the New Orleans team wants to do everything in their power to convince Davis to stick around. Don’t be surprised if they take a huge risk to acquire either Wall or Beal. At the very least, either guard probably wouldn’t hurt the team’s chances of hitting the playoffs harder than has been seen in the Davis era.