WASHINGTON — The Wizards have made their move, but they might not be done quite yet.
GM Ernie Grunfeld made a deal Wednesday afternoon that helped cover up his offseason error of signing Andrew Nicholson to a four-year, $26 million deal, sending Nicholson, Marcus Thornton and Washington’s 2017 first-round pick to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for wing Bojan Bogdanovic and forward Chris McCullough.
It’s important to note that such a trade likely only happened due to the aforementioned Nicholson contract. As described by Adam Rubin of Truth About It, the value of the Wizards’ first-round pick was lessened as it was paired with Nicholson’s disastrous contract:
“The market returned to normalcy on Tuesday when Los Angeles traded Lou Williams to Houston for Corey Brewer and an unprotected 2017 first round pick.
So, with Washington willing to part with its 2017 pick (which is at least as valuable as Houston’s), expectations were that the Wizards could add a Lou Williams-caliber player to their underperforming bench rotation.
But there was a catch. Washington’s 2017 pick was not like the others. It came with a most unwelcome guest: Andrew Nicholson’s four-year, $26 million contract. Nicholson’s contract — like an albatross hanging around the figurative neck of the Wizards’ cap space — severely depressed the pick’s market value and took Washington out of the running for Sweet Lou, potentially Darren Collison, and any other number of players who might be had with an unencumbered first rounder.”
With that taken into consideration, the benefits are two-fold for Washington — not only do the Wizards add some much-needed bench scoring, they also rid themselves of likely their worst contract. And while parting with a first-round pick isn’t ideal, Grunfeld has a cringe-worthy history when it comes to drafting outside of the top three; Kelly Oubre and Tomas Satoransky are the only two players Grunfeld has drafted after No. 3 overall that are still on the team.
That brings us to how Bogdanovic actually fits on the Wizards.
He offers very little aside from scoring, as his passing is suspect (averaging a career-high 1.6 assists per game) and his rebounding is mediocre (averaging a career-high 3.6 rebounds per game). He’s an awful defender, both in terms of consistency (his Defensive Rating of 110.7 this season is worse than every one of Washington’s rotation players) and playmaking (he has just 24 steals and 3 blocks all season), which is troublesome as the Wizards’ bench defense is among the league’s worst (a 107.8 Defensive Rating, tied for 24th best).
But he is a talented scorer, and that was one of the areas Grunfeld wanted to address before the deadline. The Wizards’ bench had a 102.0 Offensive Rating entering the All-Star break, the sixth-worst in the NBA, and averages just 23.4 points per game, the second-worst in the league.
Bogdanovic has improved his scoring each season, from 9.0 points per game as a rookie to 11.2 last season and 14.2 so far this season. He’s attempting a whopping 5.0 3-pointers per game, more than any Wizards player except Bradley Beal, and he’s shooting a respectable but not great .357 from beyond the arc. Among the 17 players who have attempted between 260 and 290 3-pointers this season, Bogdanovic is 11th in accuracy.
His scoring will help the bench, and his willingness to shoot is useful in itself, but he is very much a one-trick pony.
As for the other piece Washington added, there is reason to be intrigued by Chris McCullough. A torn ACL lowered his stock coming out of Syracuse, but he was still selected with the 29th pick in the 2015 draft. He has appeared in just 38 games over his two seasons in the NBA, including four starts last season, but he was buried on the depth chart behind fellow big men Brook Lopez, Trevor Booker, Luis Scola and Quincy Acy this season.
He just turned 22 earlier this month, and though he’s officially listed at 6-foot-11 this season, he was measured at 6-foot-9 in shoes at the draft combine, where he also registered a wingspan of 7 feet, 3.25 inches. He is an athletic specimen capable of knocking down 3-pointers, throwing down thunderous dunks and making slinky moves along the baseline.
In limited action over his two seasons with the Nets, McCullough is 14-for-40 (.350) from beyond the arc, and he’s recorded 14 blocks and 29 steals thanks to his incredible length.
He is under contract through the 2018-19 season, with the final season being a club option, for less than $5 million total — that represents a considerable savings from Nicholson’s contract of more than $6 million per season.
What’s Left To Do
The Wizards have virtually no assets to work with, but there have been reports that they’re still interested in adding another bench piece.
Chris Mannix of The Vertical joined Grant and Danny on 106.7 The Fan Thursday morning to discuss the trade deadline, and he reiterated that Washington is still probing the market for a backup point guard, but he also acknowledges they have very little to offer in a trade.
Wizards coach Scott Brooks didn’t offer much insight, as expected, but he had this to say when he spoke to The Sports Junkies Thursday morning regarding additional trades.
If the Wizards want to do another move, the most obvious target would be Darren Collison, but it’s unlikely they could acquire him without giving up another future first-round pick.
Other targets include Jameer Nelson, Jerian Grant and Tyus Jones, but ultimately, the Wizards are more likely than not to finish the trade season without making a second deal. There isn’t going to be much interest for Trey Burke or a second-round pick.
If any major updates occur with the Wizards before Thursday’s 3 p.m. deadline, this post will be updated.