Before the season began, I had the Washington Wizards down as one of my surprise teams for the year and had them finishing sixth in the Eastern Conference, as I believed they had a pretty good off-season.
It looks like I was wrong.
The Wizards got off to an awful start and currently sit at 5-11, good for 11th in the Eastern Conference. It was reported this morning by numerous sources that Washington has made everyone on their team available in trade talks, including guards Bradley Beal and John Wall. Wall apparently cursed out Head Coach Scott Brooks at a heated practice, and Beal voiced his displeasure with the organization too. The Wizards have shown improvement recently, going 4-6 over their last 10 games, but they have simply ran with the same core for too long and have still failed to get pass the second round. Dwight Howard hasn't been able to stay healthy, and Washington hasn't been able to get much production from anyone else not named Beal or Wall. The one problem with this team is that they have so much money delegated to these players in future years that it may be difficult to trade them. Beal and Otto Porter are both owed at least $25 million each year for the next three years, and John Wall's mega-extension kicks in next year, earning him almost $38 million. Some teams are more flexible with their money, and may be able to convince Washington to trade one of their prized players. Here's a couple teams who could be in trade talks with the Wizards in the upcoming months.
New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans sit at 9-7 and at the 8th seed in the Western Conference, which is where they've finished a lot in recent years. Sure, Jrue Holiday, Nikola Mirotic, and Julius Randle are all great complementary pieces, but Anthony Davis could really use another all-star. He's a free agent after the 2019-20 season, and giving him another all-star weapon could make the Pelicans a dangerous team and convince him to re-sign long-term in New Orleans.
Enter Bradley Beal.
They could go after Otto Porter too, but we'll focus on Beal here. The Pelicans could really use another wing player, as they've been starting E'Twaun Moore and Wesley Johnson at the 2 and 3, and that's without Elfrid Payton healthy and in the lineup. No disrespect to Moore or Johnson, but they are not starting players on a championship team. Adding Beal would give the Pels another three-point threat and a fairly good defensive player and could give New Orleans a very nice small-ball lineup of Payton, Holiday, Beal, Mirotic, and Davis. (You could substitute Payton while he is hurt for Randle and have a much bigger lineup as well) Beal does have a big contract, but New Orleans can put a veteran package together than can match salaries and include picks as well. New Orleans needs wing players if they want to contend seriously, and trading for Beal could be a move that makes them a force to be reckoned with.
New Orleans receives: Bradley Beal, 2022 2nd-rd draft pick
Washington receives: Solomon Hill, E'Twaun Moore, Frank Jackson, Cheick Diallo, 2019 1st-round draft pick (unprotected)
With all of the drama surrounding the Timberwolves lately, I doubt they will make any splashes throughout the course of the season. As of now, the Wolves are led by Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, who many feel has under-performed throughout the course of his career. A lack of defensive presence and work ethic has derailed Wiggins' reputation over the years and he also has a bad contract to his name, which scares potential traders. However, with the Wizards under fire, maybe a switch of shooting guards could be beneficial to both sides.
Sending Wiggins to Washington would give him a fresh start, and he could be the face of a rebuilding franchise depending on what happens with Wall. Wiggins is still really young at 23 years old, and still has time left to improve on both sides of the ball. This trade would basically serve as an escape for him, and while the new situation might not be pretty, he'll still get minutes as a starter and will be given the opportunity to prove himself. Meanwhile, if Beal is sent to Minnesota, he gives them a better chance of making the playoffs in the wide-open Western Conference as a more proven and efficient shooting guard. He also can escape the volatile situation in Washington, and while he may get burned down quickly by his coach, this trade gives Beal a better chance to win going forward, as he can join players like Towns and Robert Covington. The Wolves would have a lineup of Derrick Rose or Jeff Teague, Beal, Covington, Dario Saric and Towns, which actually looks pretty good on paper. It may not be trade that either player is looking for, but it could be a scenario that helps both players move on from a bad place and try to change the outlook of their new team.
Minnesota receives: Bradley Beal, Jason Smith
Washington receives: Andrew Wiggins, Tyus Jones, 2020 2nd-rd draft pick
The Magic have been stuck in mediocrity for basically an entire decade and have had many first-round picks that have failed to pan out. This year, just like last year, the Magic have gotten off to a surprisingly good start and sit at 9-8, good for 7th in the East. They've been building for the future for a while, but they could make a very surprising move that would label them a possible playoff contender.
And that would be to trade for John Wall. Sure, it's very unlikely, but we can still dream.
Nikola Vucevic is in the middle of a great year, averaging 20 and 10, Aaron Gordon is on the books for four more years at a reasonable price, and they have other pieces like Mo Bamba, Evan Fournier, and Jonathan Isaac who are all valuable one way or another. Their current point guard is D.J. Augustin, which is less than ideal. If the Magic are serious about contending, they should look to add Wall, who would be their best player since Dwight Howard, who ironically is on the Wizards too. Unfortunately, if they trade for Wall, they would likely have to part ways with Bamba, but they could re-sign Vucevic in the summer or (let's get real crazy) try to sign DeMarcus Cousins next summer in free agency. It sounds outlandish, but think of this starting 5:
John Wall, Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac, DeMarcus Cousins
They would have to shed salary in order to do any of these things, which is why they could send and receive expiring contracts in a possible deal, while also sending out Bamba and other pieces. They'll also have to either find a buyer for Timofey Mozgov or buy him out. Orlando could be a real intriguing team moving forward if they decide to end the rebuild and acquire a bonafide star in Wall, and would likely make their first playoff appearance since the Howard days. Here's a possible trade scenario:
Orlando receives: John Wall, Markieff Morris
Washington receives: Mohamed Bamba, Terrence Ross, D.J. Augustin, Jarell Martin, 2020 1st-round pick (top-5 protected)
Los Angeles Lakers
Yeah, we've heard all the talk about giving LeBron another star to work with and how adding another star will give the Lakers a shot at the title.
Let's just do it.
As we've said before, John Wall is a name floating around in rumors, and pairing him with LeBron would be extremely interesting. They are pretty similar; they're both explosive, relentless finishers who can make great plays on the defensive end as well, and can shoot the three if needed. And right now, the Lakers point guard situation is made up of Lonzo Ball and Rajon Rondo, which isn't good enough to win a championship (but Lonzo can still develop into a great player, I'm not counting him out). Pulling the trigger on Wall will allow them to win now, and still have enough money left over to sign a superstar in free agency next summer. Instead of having a bunch of intriguing prospects as a supporting cast, LeBron could now have a clear #2 guy in Wall, while still having players like Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma in his arsenal as well. As for Washington, they would receive some young talent back and a first too, which can help effectively start a rebuild. The Lakers can throw in expiring contracts that would make this deal work and give Washington a lot of money to play with as well next summer. Everyone has preached the return of the "Showtime" Lakers, but adding John Wall would give the Lakers another intriguing act to add to their show.
Los Angeles receives: John Wall, Thomas Bryant
Washington receives: Lonzo Ball, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Ivica Zubac, 2019 1st-round pick (top-5 protected)