It’s always about the money. As we near the trade deadline remember that: It is always about the money.
The Washington Wizards could argue they are the third best team in the East. It’s a dubious honor this season and the title seems to change hands weekly between the Wizards, Raptors and Nets, but all three of those teams have legitimate dreams of making the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs (and the Hawks could surprise us all). When healthy, with the John Wall/Bradley Beal backcourt and Nene up front, the Wizards pose some legitimate challenges to other teams.
But they could use depth at the point guard spot, as the seemingly smart pickup of Eric Maynor has not worked out (he’s shooting 29.2 percent on the season, has a PER of 6.1 and is playing less than 10 minutes a game).
The Denver Nuggets have the exiled Andre Miller as an option… so yes, there is something to that, reports Zach Lowe at Grantland. But again, the money is in the way.
The Wizards, meanwhile, may have to settle for a smaller deal — if they can manage any at all. They’d surely love to upgrade the backup point guard slot after the Eric Maynor flop, and given the front-office connections between Denver and Washington,4 a deal involving the exiled Professor Andre Miller, PhD, would seem to make sense. But the Wizards are just $1 million under the tax line, meaning they’d have to send out significant salary to offer Miller tenure.
The Wizards are not a team seen around the league as a big spender (to put it kindly) and they are not likely to venture into the tax territory, certainly not this season. As Mike Prada of SBN reminds us, in addition to the tax threat the Wizards are paying Andray Blatche even though they amnestied him (players still get paid their salary, it just comes off the official books). That’s extra money out the door for a franchise not known for spending. Which means Washington would want to make a deal where it sends out more money than it takes in, keeps its picks and upgrades its backup point guard spot. Good luck with that.
We’re going to see these kinds of issues a lot now. The value of the expiring contract has gone way down in the NBA (in part because contracts are shorter under the new CBA). Also, teams are not looking to move draft picks this year or next because of the quality of players coming in.
There will still be deadline deals, it’s hard to imagine Brandon Bass still being in Boston or Arron Afflalo still being in Orlando come Feb. 21. But the blockbusters may be missing and the volume of moves may be down. It may be this summer before we see a ton of deals.