The Washington Wizards are 1-6. While we generally reserve judgment on teams so early in the season, the grace period has ended and it is time to decide what comes next for a franchise that has been stuck between mediocrity and good, but not great, for the better part of the last decade.
It is an abysmal start for a team that felt they were among the elite in the Eastern Conference prior to the season.
“I feel like we’re all equal,” Wall told Michael Lee from Yahoo Sports. “None of them won a championship. This is no knock on no other team.
That feeling from August appears to be all but gone now, as the Wiz Kids are possibly in danger of not making the playoffs at all. They have reverted back to talking about each other in the media while putting out a putrid product on the court. Per NBA.com, Washington is 24th in offensive rating and 27th in defensive rating. After many discussions of players being more about individual statistics and playing time in the past, the Wizards have continued that trend as they are 24th in assists as well. These numbers do not bode well for a team that has struggled to trust each other and build chemistry.
Austin Rivers after Wizards concede 136 points to Clippers: “Our defense is horrendous… Teams are walking into the paint getting layups… You’ve got to have personal pride. You’ve got to get mad when someone scores on you. We’re not the Warriors.” pic.twitter.com/oQ98rzDzn3
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) October 29, 2018
Washington simply has the feeling of a bickering couple that has overstayed the relationship. The front office cannot continue to hold on to this core out of comfort or fear of getting worse before they get better. It can be argued that moves should have been made already, with this group failing to ever get past the second round of the playoffs. The margin for error before this “bad” becomes worse is very slim, as the Wizards’ over/under this season is already only 44.5 games.
So, what happens now? Despite the fact that Dwight Howard will suit up for his debut against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night, he has never been a culture changer, and that is where the issue with the Wizards lies. Otto Porter is making $26 million this season and plays 25 minutes a night while underperforming on both ends of the floor. John Wall’s supermax deal kicks in next year and his trade value is certainly debatable at age 28, where he seems like he will no longer grow as a player. Bradley Beal is the team’s most valuable trade asset and likely the only piece where they can get some young talent and/or picks in exchange.
The team can move Wall, who has done a ton for the team and the city. However, he has reached his peak and has visibly bad body language and effort when things don’t go his way. Watch a small clip here of Wall jacking up a shot, then jogging back on defense in transition:
John Wall = the best two-way point guard in the NBA pic.twitter.com/VNOoZ3vQFp
— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) October 25, 2018
It’s debatable what you can get for Wall on the trade market. At his best, he is a force on both ends of the court with the athleticism, size, and speed to give opposing defenses headaches. Washington should be able to get on the phone and make a play for Jimmy Butler. But Wall’s attitude, effort, and knee issues may prevent Washington from getting the return they would expect for a top tier player. If they are able to move Wall and his eye-popping contract, it would free room on their books for them to keep the younger Porter and Beal, while allowing them to pursue another star to bring into the fold. Wall has reached his ceiling and so have the Wizards under his leadership. Nine years is a big enough sample size to know when it is time to walk away and start a new regime.
Bradley Beal is the most movable piece on the team as his youth and talent can likely bring back young players with high upside that may better complement the team and bring fresh energy into the locker room. Teams will not hesitate to take in the sharpshooting Beal, who is an All-Star level talent on the wing. If the Wizards want to pursue a partial rebuild, letting him or Otto Porter walk might prove to be a good move.
No matter what they do, the time for the Wizards to make moves have long arrived and early indicators this season should provide a sense of urgency to get things done. With the feeling of competing for a title likely out the window, look for the Wizards to make moves before the trade deadline if the addition of Dwight Howard does not provide the spark they need to turn things around on both ends and in the locker room. The time of dysfunction in Washington needs to come to a close, by any means necessary.