We’re only seven or eight games into the 2018-19 NBA season, but the Washington Wizards are already flirting with disaster. They’re currently 1-6, tied for the worst record in the NBA with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The difference between the Wizards and the Cavs is that the Wizards have what’s considered to be a top backcourt in the NBA, while the Cavaliers just lost the best player on the planet, LeBron James.
Going into the season with franchise cornerstones John Wall and Bradley Beal healthy, the Wizards were easily supposed to be a playoff team in a weak Eastern Conference. Right now, they look nothing but horrendous. When we talk about the Wizards’ constant losing, we’re not just talking about losing to good teams. We’re talking about losses to Kings and the Grizzlies, and a 32-point loss to the Clippers. Through seven games, the Wizards are allowing 122.4 per game, which ranks last in the NBA. For a team that’s been mediocre for what seems like years now there’s only one solution: blow it all up.
You might say this is premature considering it is only seven games into the Wizards’ season. Yes, it may be seven games into the season, but what about the five seasons prior to this. The Wizards have been nothing more than average. In the past five years, the Wizards made the playoffs, but never had more than 49 wins in the regular season. These 49 wins were good enough for 4th in the Eastern Conference, and a second round playoff exit. Next thing you know, the Wizards are signing Otto Porter Jr. to a 4 years $106 million deal in the summer of 2017. That my friends, is called suicide in the NBA. Otto Porter’s best season in the league at the point of the contract was just over 13 points per game and 6 rebounds per game. That’s worth over $100 million? So now, the Wizards have three massive contracts on their team in John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter Jr.
I tried to comprehend why this team has done nothing to try and switch things up, and the only reasoning I could come up with was their fantasy of landing Kevin Durant. Every single Wizards fan has been thinking Kevin Durant is “going to come back home” and play in D.C after his tenure with the Warriors over. The Wizards even hired Durant’s old coach Scott Brooks to try and lure him there. My only question is how do you expect to sign Durant in the future if you handcuffed yourself with the contract of Otto Porter, and have John Wall and Bradley Beal on the roster? Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld is in La La Land! He’s completely lost.
The Wizards shouldn’t even wait until after 2019 free agency to blow it up. They shouldn’t even wait to see if Kevin Durant comes. Blow it up now because not only do they not have room for Durant, but there’s zero chance of him signing there. Absolutely ZERO. As mentioned prior, they don’t have cap space. In addition, why would Durant go to D.C, when he could go to New York or Los Angeles? The Knicks, Lakers, and Clippers are easily more attractive destinations for Kevin Durant. Think about the young players on all of those teams. In terms of the Wizards, they could trade Bradley Beal to clear cap space, but no one’s ever taking that Otto Porter Jr. contract. What a disaster.
The only solution is to trade John Wall and Bradley Beal right now. Get as many assets as you can, and start the rebuild as soon as possible. You could get multiple first round picks for Wall and Beal, as clearly there would be a huge market for them. In addition, it would ensure that they finish the season bad enough to get a top-five pick, something they haven’t had since Otto Porter Jr. in 2013 (eye roll). You’re not going to improve as a team or build for the future by continuously getting the 15 or 16th pick of the draft (Kelly Oubre, Troy Brown). Get multiple future picks, and get some pieces that can actually develop into great players in this league.
This is a storyline I expect to become more prevalent throughout the league once the trade deadline approaches in February. I know it’s early, aa it’s barely November, but the Wizards have some major problems that need to be addressed.