Wizards End Their “Big Three” Era
The Wizards were active during the trade deadline, moving two of their key players from the past few seasons in Otto Porter Jr. and Markieff Morris. The reasoning for these deals is tied to franchise point guard John Wall and his unfortunate injuries that have changed the direction of this team over the past month.
Wall was reported to be out for the season in early January following surgery to fix some problems he was having in his heel. Knowing that Wall would be back for next season could’ve been reason enough to keep those two on the roster, but there was a major setback. Optimus Dime (Wall’s awesome basketball-reference nickname) had a fall in his home that resulted in a ruptured left achilles tendon that will keep Wall sidelined for a calendar year. Knowing that the Wizards were now looking at the remainder of this season and the majority of next season without their star guard was enough to get the Wizards moving.
The deal for Porter is interesting because of the stance that the Wizards’ front office and even the owner had taken for some time, that he was untouchable. According to a report from NBC sports, Washington owner Ted Leonsis said as recently as January 31st that he would not be trading Porter, Bradley Beal, or Wall. Things can really change in a week and the deal was made on February 6th that sent Porter to the Bulls in exchange for Jabari Parker, Bobby Portis Jr., and a second round pick. The motivations for the deal are all about money. With so much money committed to those three players, the Wizards took this opportunity to get off of Porter’s contract in exchange for two players that they can get rid of after this season. Bobby Portis Jr. will be an unrestricted free agent and Jabari Parker has a team option. This deal will save the Wizards some serious money and it makes sense that they would look to get out of tax penalties with Wall’s future uncertain.
The other deal for the Wizards involved sending Morris and a second round pick to the New Orleans Pelicans for Wesley Johnson. The reality is that the Wizards sent Morris, making 8.6 million, to the Pelicans for Johnson, making 6.1 million. Morris was immediately waived by the Pelicans and is not an interesting buyout candidate for potential playoff teams.
The bottom line of these deals is the Wizards’ bottom line for next season. These moves get them under the luxury tax. The three players that they acquired in their wheeling and dealing are likely to leave over the summer. The only player that makes sense to potentially hold onto is Portis, but only if the contract makes sense. He is restricted and has a qualifying offer of 3.6 million. It will be interesting to see what kind of market there is for Portis. He is a nice player that could fill a need for the Wizards moving forward.
The Wizards are at a very interesting place right now. With Wall’s injury and questionable future, they have some big decisions to make. Should they hold onto Bradley Beal or try to move him for future pieces? However they feel about Wall, it seems impossible to move him going forward. Holding onto Wall while trying to rebuild seems like a waste, but it may be something that they cannot avoid. Beal only has two years left on his deal and with so many teams opening up cap space, the clock is ticking for the Wizards to make a decision regarding their All-Star guard. He will have suitors if he becomes a free agent and while the Wizards can throw the max at him, does he want to stay in Washington with John Wall making almost $50 million per season. While the Wizards are now out of the luxury tax, they are far from solving the issues that are coming.