Former Lottery Pick Linked to Warriors as Potential Trade Target

PJ Washington Hornets

Getty Charlotte Hornets forward PJ Washington defends Justise Winslow of the Portland Trail Blazers.

Thanks to a wild, overlong recovery period in the wake of his 2021 meniscus tear, Golden State Warriors big man James Wiseman has been fodder for the trade machine since before last season’s deadline for deal-making. But with a healthy Wiseman now struggling to make an impact as a third-year pro — to the point that the team just sent him to the G League — the trade chatter is even more prevalent now.

People throughout the Warriors organization, from Joe Lacob on down, have gone on record with their belief that Wiseman can one day become a star. With the Warriors off to a sub-.500 start and the blue-chipper looking out of his element on the court, though, now may be the time to consider cutting their losses.

If the Dubs do decide to test the waters on Wiseman’s market, one analyst believes that an Eastern Conference team may be able to accomodate them with a win-now trade.

B/R: Hornets’ PJ Washington Among Realistic Trade Targets

Bleacher Report‘s Sam Esfandiari dove head-first into the Wiseman situation with his latest feature, a round-up of potential trades involving the former No. 2 overall pick. One of the deals he proposed saw the Warriors’ using Wiseman to acquire another recent lotto guy who is both A) ready to contribute now and B) available.

Namely, Charlotte Hornets forward PJ Washington.

“The Hornets have been rumored to have been shopping Washington, 24, over the last year because they likely won’t want to hand him the contract he’s looking for,” wrote Esfandiari.

Using Michael Jordan’s penchant for pinching pennies to the Dubs’ advantage, the hoops scribe pitched the following deal as a “realistic” option with Wiseman:

  • Golden State Warriors receive F PJ Washington
  • Charlotte Hornets receive C James Wiseman

Added Esfandiari:

“In Washington, the Warriors would get the ideal replacement to Otto Porter Jr, a large wing who can guard 1 through 5 on defense and space the floor on offense. Washington would allow Golden State to go small and give the bench a viable defensive presence.”

Porter’s absence has been huge for the Warriors in the worst way (perhaps even as big as that of lockdown specialist Gary Payton II). There was hope that JaMychal Green could help steady the second-unit ship while Jonathan Kuminga worked his way into Porter’s spot. But, so far, neither player has been able to have a consistently positive impact on the court.

Entering the Dubs’ Friday bout with the New York Knicks, Green is averaging 4.8 points and 4.5 rebounds in 17 minutes per game while shooting just 41.1% from the floor and 22.7% from deep. Kuminga, meanwhile, is posting 5.2 PPG and 1.8 RPG in just over 14 minutes a night with shooting splits that aren’t much better than Green’s.

In their 359 combined minutes, the Warriors have been outscored by 80 points.

Washington Has Been Scoring the Ball More Than Ever

Despite a big-time drop in his usage rate last season, Washington was more efficient as a scorer than ever before, posting a healthy effective field goal percentage of 57.3 and scoring 1.26 points per shot attempt.

This season, with LaMelo Ball’s bum ankle limiting him to just three appearances so far and Gordon Hayward missing Charlotte’s last eight games with a shoulder issue, Washington’s usage rate has ballooned to career-high levels. And while his efficiency has waned in a new role, his scoring average has jumped almost five full points.

Through 16 games, Washington is posting 15.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, almost two assists and a block per night.

Although the Hornets have conceded fewer points defensively with Washington on the bench than when he’s on the hardwood, opposing players’ shooting numbers have dropped by an average of 4.4% on two-point attempts — and a full percentage point overall — when he was the closest defender.

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