As the sun was setting on the Ernie Grunfeld era, the Wizards made one last desperation move last season. Washington traded Kelly Oubre for Trevor Ariza, who was an impending unrestricted free agent and 10 years older than Oubre.
Oubre has built on his promise, and Phoenix leveraged his restricted rights to re-sign him. The Wizards didn’t come close to making the playoffs, and Ariza left last summer.
The team that I have heard some rumblings about as a surprise buyer – and it’s really a surprise to me – are the Wizards.
One of the guys that I think is out there who Washington would have some interest in is Tristan Thompson.
Candace Buckner of The Washington Post:
A big man who rebounds, does the dirty work + with a trade, the Wiz would have his bird rights … a move w/ an eye toward the future
— Candace Buckner (@CandaceDBuckner) February 4, 2020
Washington (17-32) is five games out of playoff position. Though not insurmountable, that’s a lot! Not only would they have to get hot down the stretch, the Wizards would also have to hope the Nets, Magic, Bulls, Pistons and Hornets don’t also rally to the finish.
I suppose it’s possible Thompson could come cheaply enough to justify trading for him – say, Ian Mahinmi and a protected second-rounder. Thompson would definitely provide an interior presence defense-deficient Washington could use. The Wizards would also get his Bird Rights, which would be useful in re-signing him next summer.
But it’s hard to see the Cavaliers surrendering Thompson for so little. They reportedly valued keeping him around. That was before declined to support Cleveland coach John Beilein amid the thugs-slugs controversy. So, maybe the Cavs would be more open to moving Thompson now before Thursday’s NBA trade deadline. They might envision Thompson leaving in free agency this summer and prefer to save a little money with the lower-paid Mahinmi (also on an expiring contract) and get any asset (even a protected second-rounder). Washington could at least ask.
Washington should seriously consider trading him next summer. It will be difficult to build a winner before his contract ends. With two years left on his deal, the time could be right to maximize his return and be a buyer for Thursday.
But if the Wizards remain set on building around Beal, I’d advise them not to overreact this season. There’s still time to please him. This is probably a lost year, regardless. Don’t surrender assets that could help in 2020-21 or 2021-22 just for a marginal upgrade that still leaves Washington short of the postseason.