The Washington Wizards may be a house divided that cannot stand much longer.
The Washington Post reported a players-only meeting before facing Charlotte on Jan. 17. But instead of inspired play, the Wiz delivered their worst effort of the season in a 133-109 loss. Washington bounced back by beating Detroit on Friday, but the Wiz still don’t play defense, with 17 straight games allowing more than 100 points.
Snider: Wizards Look Dazed And Confused
Sure, the Wiz will probably make the playoffs. Their 26-20 record can let them limp to a seventh or eighth seed. But so what? This was supposed to be a good team. Maybe an Eastern Conference finalist, not some underperforming first-round loser. Fans have seen that before . . . a lot.
The Wiz have chemistry issues. Hopefully not the kind that erupted in 2010 with Gilbert Arenas eventually exiled abroad and the rest of the team scattered across the NBA, but the Wiz seem to be conflicted over whether it’s John Wall or Bradley Beal’s team. The backcourt doesn’t seem to be double trouble, just troubled.
Among the problems is Otto Porter just isn’t worth the $106 million deal signed last year. He’s a decent player, but the Wiz should have gone shopping instead. If fans are angry over Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins’ expected costs, they should abandon the Wiz over paying Porter so much.
Marcin Gortat slumped late last year, and nine points and 8.1 rebounds this season is continued mediocrity. The Wiz seem better with a smaller lineup. Gortat is already talking retirement after next season. The team might consider releasing him after this season.
Perhaps the one intriguing upside is Kelly Oubre is starting to blossom, with 12.2 points per game. He scored a career-high 26 points against Detroit and is the team’s third-leading scorer over the last 28 games, despite not starting.
Maybe the Wiz can trade Oubre, who only earns $2 million this season. The whispers seem to be strengthening as the NBA trade deadline of Feb. 8 nears. Certainly, Oubre could bring a starter or first-rounder given his salary cap friendliness.
Then again, Oubre gives the Wiz options of playing more small ball, hoping to outscore opponents over the next three months to reach the postseason.
The Wiz have problems. If they don’t resolve those in the locker room, then 2010 showed good teams can quickly fade away.
Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter @Snide_Remarks.