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The NBA trade deadline is today, February 21st, and 3 PM. The Wizards surfaced in a trade rumor for the market’s most valuable asset, Josh Smith, but talks appeared to have broken down. They’re also now (strangely) tied to rumors about acquiring J.J. Redick. Earlier this season, the Wizards were also players in the Rudy Gay sweepstakes, but ultimately were beaten out by Toronto.
In contrast to years past, Washington is clearly looking to improve. I can’t recall the last time I heard the team is pursuing top talent through trade. The Wizards have over $60 million per year committed to players’ salaries over the next two seasons, eliminating them (barring a cap space-clearing move) from making a splash in free agency.
But what is success for the Wizards at the trade deadline?
Success can be finding a solid veteran that would otherwise be unavailable to the team. In addition to being cash-strapped, the Wizards also have the onus of being a highly unattractive destination, even in a good sports market. At last year’s trade deadline, Washington acquired Nene in essentially a free agent signing, as he was in the first year of a five-year contract. Landing a noteworthy player now (and hopefully not sacrificing a lottery pick in the process) can begin shifting attention to Washington in preparation for the summer of 2015 when the team has more money to spend.
Success can also be removing undesirable players. While scavenging for a sensible trading partner, the Wizards must also find a way to off-load Jordan Crawford, who has now gained national attention for his public display of discontent with the team. Crawford saw his role with diminish precipitously after hitting his game-winning shot against Portland on January 21st. Since then, he’s been slapped with a string of DNP-CDs, which recently led him to airing his grievances through social media.
As a devoted Wizards fan, it is very difficult watching teams that were recently as bad (or worse) as yours leapfrog your team in terms of success. I’ve watched the Clippers build a title contender, and the Rockets and Timberwolves diligently work to assemble excellent, balanced talent. Savvy management makes things happen.
This team is not built to win. With the roster currently constructed, the Wizards can, at best, hope to grab a low playoff seed for the next couple years. Management must look beyond being risk adverse and penny-pinching and make a significant move now.
In short: do something.