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Wizards Should Get Aggressive At Trade Deadline


The past few weeks have felt great. The Wizards have won some games, played some good defense, and put on a first-rate display of solid defense. 

Before I get to talk of trade deadline strategy, let's back up and look at where the team has been. Entering this past off-season, the Wizards were a wreck. They were like a house with a leaky roof, warped floors, and a trashed bathroom. There was ample money and resources available to do a ground-up rebuild around the few good pieces already in place. 

Instead, Ernie Grunfeld and Ted Leonsis did a sugarcoat. They didn't put on a new roof -- they stretched out some Hefty bags and tacked on some shingles. No need to replace warped floors -- pour on leveling compound. Wrecked bathroom? Just paint over the water stains and slap a patch on those dripping pipes.

In effect, this is what they did when they traded for Nene, Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza. Since a horrific start, the team has righted itself and begun winning some games. And while fans have enjoyed seeing Washington win some games, the run has left some with that nagging question: What next?

Because those old problems -- that leaky roof, warped floor and wrecked bathroom -- may be covered in spackle and fresh paint, but they're still present.

As currently constructed, the Wizards are built for a two-year run at...what exactly? Maybe a 6th seed if everything went perfect? And then?

The Wizards are "built" around a couple talented kiddies in the backcourt (John Wall and Bradley Beal), two 30-year olds in the frontcourt (Nene and Okafor) and a journeyman SF working on a one-year minimum salary contract (Martell Webster). 

This is not the stuff of a long-term contender. It's not a good position to be in considering the assets they had in place at the start of the offseason -- cap space, a high draft pick, an early pick in the 2nd round.

But all that's in the past. The question facing the Wizards now is this: What should they do at the rapidly approaching trade deadline?

The correct answer: Tear it apart.

What will they do?

Probably nothing.

Look, the past few weeks feel good. But it's fool's gold -- a sugar rush. In terms of looking at the franchise in the long-term, they have Wall and Beal, and nothing else. 

Betting on Nene and Okafor to remain productive into their mid-thirties is a sucker's bet. One might make it, but it's extremely unlikely that both will. Aside from Beal and Wall, the team is getting basically nothing from its youngsters.

Webster might...might...make a decent role player. But that's about it when we're talking long-term assets.

So now we're to the question of goals. What is it that this franchise aspires to do? If they're content to miss the playoffs, take the seventh pick in the draft and come back next year for a run at the sixth seed, they're safe doing nothing.

If their goal is to take a shot at building a championship contender, they need to change the roster. Then the question becomes whether deals available at the trade deadline are ones that can put the team on a potential contender trajectory, or whether they'd be better off waiting for the offseason to see what opportunities arise.

My strong preference would be to take that shot at building a contender, which would mean being open to "blowing up" the roster at the trade deadline to restock the arsenal with assets for the offseason.

My strong belief is that the current team is meeting expectations for the owner and the front office and that they'll do nothing to improve the team's long-term prospects.