Wizards indicate once-unthinkable team shakeup may be near
The Washington Wizards have looked like a team this season in desperate need of a shakeup. And based on a report Monday, the team’s front office is starting to agree.
According to ESPN, the Wizards have indicated to teams that everyone on their roster is available including stars Bradley Beal and John Wall. That doesn’t mean a trade is coming, but the Wizards were previously resistant to including Wall or Beal in trade talks.
What changed? A recent explosive, f-bomb-filled practice might have something to do with it.
The Wizards, per multiple reports, had a messy practice last week that included an angry Wall telling coach Scott Brooks ”[expletive] you” and a frustrated Beal telling management, ’I’ve been dealing with this for seven years.”
Wall, who apologized to Brooks minutes after the tirade, was fined for his remark. The 28-year-old reportedly got upset after Brooks challenged him and the Wizards to raise their intensity in practice.
“The start that we’re having, there’s going to be rumors,” coach Scott Brooks said Monday of the trade speculation. “It’s just part of the business. I’ve been in the league a long time, that’s just always been the case. We haven’t played well. Nobody’s hiding from it. Nobody’s running from it. We have to play better.”
Washington is 5-11 this season. The Wizards are on a two-game losing streak heading into Tuesday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Per ESPN, the Wizards aren’t actively shopping their two stars, but “it is rapidly becoming apparent to the organization that it needs to start considering overtures for them.”
Brooks and players have routinely criticized effort this season, only for the Wizards to look lethargic the following game.
Beal, for example, noted after Friday’s loss to the Brooklyn Nets that defense comes down to pride and Washington proceeded to let up 119 points against the Portland Trail Blazers in another loss on Sunday.
That’s not the first time such a stretch occurred, either. Just five games into the season, Beal and Wall told reporters after a loss to the Sacramento Kings that some players needed to stop playing with personal agendas. The game after those comments, the Wizards allowed 136 points in a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
While Wall and Beal have been vocal of the team’s lack of effort, they have also been part of the problem defensively. The Wizards are giving up 112.1 points per 100 possessions when the two share the floor.
Washington’s defense ranks second-to-last in defensive rating (112.2) and points per game (116.9).
It’s unclear what the Wizards could get for either of the two, though Beal would almost certainly be easier to move than Wall.
Starting next season, Wall’s four-year, $169 million supermax extension kicks in meaning the $42 million average salary could be an obstacle to move, especially since the deal carries a 15 percent trade kicker. Wall, too, has already shown some signs of decline at age 28.
Beal, on the other hand, is 25 years old and on a more reasonable contract. He’s averaging 21.5 points per game on 45 percent shooting this season.
Besides Wall and Beal, the Wizards could also look to trade players such as Otto Porter or Kelly Oubre two wing players who are capable of knocking down shots. Porter’s contract $81 million until 2021 could make him difficult to trade, but teams value players who can shoot 3-pointers and defend.
Regardless, the Wizards are far removed from the 2016-17 season, the year when they were a game away from the Eastern Conference Finals despite having the same core.
“I’m not going to be nave to it,” Beal said. “I have a phone just like everybody else does. There were rumors weeks ago. Then, I didn’t buy into them. Now, I’m still not going to buy into them because if that’s my main priority and focus then I’m going to be messed up on the floor.”