WASHINGTON — As of 10 a.m. Wednesday, just 15 hours before Thursday’s NBA trade deadline, the Wizards have remained stagnant.
Despite a flurry of rumors tying Washington to more than a half-dozen players, GM Ernie Grunfeld has not yet pulled the trigger on a trade. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Lakers traded backup guard Lou Williams — believed to be a target of the Wizards and one of the top bench scorers available — to the Houston Rockets for Corey Brewer and an unprotected first-round pick.
Washington will likely make a move at some point before the deadline. The most likely deal would be one to add an additional weapon to the bench, which is among the worst in the league and desperately needs another playmaker. The Wizards have very few assets to work with, assuming they’re opposed to dealing any of their starters or sixth man Kelly Oubre.
Andrew Nicholson is in the first year of a four-year contract that pays him more than $6 million annually, and he has already fallen out of coach Scott Brooks’ rotation. Trey Burke is only making $3.3 million and his contract expires after this season, but he hasn’t played well enough to garner much interest. Jason Smith has played well recently, but he’s been the Wizards’ only reliable backup big man this season and he’s likely not going anywhere unless Washington gets a stellar offer for him. Grunfeld might very well consider Tomas Satoransky untouchable, considering it’s taken the organization more than four years to get him to the U.S.
That leaves just Marcus Thornton, Sheldon McLellan (or is it Sheldon Mac?), Danuel House and Daniel Ochefu — none of which will generate much excitement. Realistically, the Wizards will most likely have to part with a draft pick or two in order to make a trade happen.
Here is a roundup of some of the many rumors concerning the Wizards over the past few days.
The Phoenix Suns have reportedly had several suitors for Tucker, a 31-year-old wing who is in just sixth season in the NBA due to playing overseas from 2007 to 2012. Tucker is averaging 7.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.5 steals and 0.2 blocks per game while shooting .416 from the field and .338 from 3-point range (on 2.4 attempts per game). He’s been a part-time starter for the Suns over his five seasons in Phoenix, starting 286 out of 394 games, including 17 of 57 this year and 80 of 82 last year.
The Wizards could use additional wing help, and Tucker (6-foot-6, 245 pounds) can play guard or forward, but he’s never averaged even 10 points per game. In the two seasons in which he started at least 80 games (2013-14 and 2015-16), he averaged 9.4 points and 8.0 points per game. He’s also shot less than .440 from the field in each of the past four seasons, suggesting he might not provide much in terms of scoring for the Wizards.
Washington does have a history of trading with Phoenix, for what it’s worth. The Wizards have acquired both Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris from the Suns over the years, each time for a first-round pick.
Brooklyn Nets wing Bojan Bogdanovic is a more logical fit for Washington, mostly due to his scoring ability. At 6-foot-8 and 216 pounds, Bogdanovic is a very different kind of player than Tucker, and he’s increased his scoring each season he’s been in the league — he averaged 9.0 points per game as a rookie in 2014-15, then 11.2 per game in 2015-16, and he’s now scoring 14.2 per game on .440 shooting, including .357 from beyond the arc.
Bogdanovic, 27, would surely require more than Tucker would in any trade, and he might very well command a first-round pick. He’s trending upward — averaging career highs in points, rebounds, assists and free-throw shooting — and his salary is less than $4 million for this season. The Nets are starved for draft picks and nowhere near contending, so any deal they take will likely be based upon the quality and quantity of draft picks offered.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have more young pieces than they know what to do with, and they’ve long been tied to trade rumors regarding point guard Ricky Rubio. It had previously been reported that they would toss forward Shabazz Muhammad in with Rubio in order to facilitate a trade, but now it appears the Wizards are interesting in Muhammad as a solo target.
Muhammad, 24, hasn’t developed quite as much as the Wolves hoped he would when they traded for him on the night of the 2013 NBA Draft. He averaged 13.5 points per game in 38 games in 2014-15, and he averaged 10.5 per game last season while coming off the bench for all 82 games. This season, he’s putting up 9.4 points per game while playing 19.6 off the bench, and he’s shooting a career-high .414 from beyond the arc and .787 from the free-throw line.
He not only fills the Wizards’ biggest need — bench scoring — but Muhammad also has a Defensive Rating (the points Minnesota allows per 100 possessions when he’s on the court) of 103.7, tied for the second best among the Timberwolves’ everyday players. Only Tomas Satoransky (102.3), Markieff Morris (102.6) and Bradley Beal (103.5) have better defensive ratings on the Wizards this season. Muhammad isn’t known as a defender, but his Defensive Rating has improved each season he’s been in the league, from 112.2 his rookie season to 110.4 in 2014-15 and 108.8 last season.
Despite being under contract for only this season, Muhammad is an intriguing target for Washington. He has some similarities to Oubre as a player, and he would immediately be the best athlete after Oubre on the Wizards bench, which is sorely lacking in athletes and playmakers. But he would likely cost a first-round pick, and possibly more.
Darren Collison is a veteran point guard who is only under contract for the remainder of this season, but he has never averaged fewer than 10 points per game and has shot at least .467 from the field in each of his past five seasons. In his eighth season, Collison, 29, is averaging 13.7 points, 4.2 assists, 2.1 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game. He immediately became a target of speculation when the Sacramento Kings dealt DeMarcus Cousins, and the Kings appear to now be looking to move on from much of their current core of veterans, including Collison.
Collison would add a legitimate scoring punch to Washington’s bench, and he offers a veteran presence, for what that’s worth. It’s unclear what it would cost to bring him to Washington, and it’s especially difficult to project the Kings’ demands considering the paltry haul they got for Cousins, but a swap for Burke and maybe a second-round pick would make sense.