With Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline looming and uncertainty abounding, the Wizards are handling the situation the only way they know how: through humor. In the first half of the Wizards’ 107-96 loss to the Dallas Mavericks, Nick Young said he told his teammates, “Somebody going to be gone by halftime.”
Young can’t be blamed for thinking that way – and his teammates had to chuckle considering what has transpired the past two seasons. When the Wizards played their final game before the deadline last season, Kirk Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong were both dealt to Atlanta at halftime, creating an awkward locker room situation of saying farewell while preparing to play the second half of a game in Philadelphia. And, the year before, Antawn Jamison was traded to Cleveland only a few minutes before the Wizards played their last game before the deadline.
“I’ve seen it all since I’ve been here,” Young said. “It’s crazy. I’ve been making jokes about it.”
The Wizards (9-32) didn’t make any moves in Dallas but still have plenty of time to have a different roster on Thursday when they play the New Orleans Hornets. They have the league’s second-worst record and have just one first-round pick in what is considered to be one of the deepest drafts in years. The past two deadline deals have all been made to acquire draft picks and/or young prospects.
One possible trade target was taken off the list on Tuesday when Andrew Bogut, a player whom league sources said the Wizards had expressed interest in acquiring, was dealt to Golden State in a five-player deal that brought Monta Ellis to Milwaukee.
But rumors continue to circulate, with Andray Blatche sitting on the trading block for several weeks, Young reportedly drawing interest from the Los Angeles Clippers and the Wizards recently expressing openness to dealing JaVale McGee before letting him hit the market as a restricted free agent this summer.
“I think everybody is worried about it,” said John Wall, the only player on the roster considered an untouchable, according to league sources. “Certain guys don’t know what’s going to happen and what can happen, so you’re nervous. All I know is it’s the trade deadline and you hear all the talks about who could be moved and who could be gone. I’m just trying to stay focused and get ready for New Orleans.”
The Wizards have actively tried to move Blatche – who has disappointed since signing a three-year extension worth about $28 million nearly two years ago – but have struggled to find a taker. Blatche is trying to come back from a strained left calf muscle and said he hasn’t let the trade talk affect his play.
“That’s something I’m not stressed about or losing sleep over,” Blatche said. “I’ve been here for seven years and I know that comes with the job. So I know if a trade was to happen for anybody on this team, everybody know not to take it personal. It’s a business side of it. Just go to the next team and work hard.”
Coach Randy Wittman was asked before the game if he thought Blatche was still going to be with the team on Thursday. He responded, “Sure.”
Blatche then joked when asked if he knew where he’d be on Thursday. “Where will be at? New Orleans. I’ll be in New Orleans, until I find out anything else,” Blatche said. “I’m not confident what’s going to go on. It’s the nature of the business. If something happens, something happens.”
Young is on a one-year deal and would have to approve any trade, giving him some power to influence where he’ll spend the rest of the season. He admitted that the chatter has affected him.
“It’s tough. I’m just going to go with whatever happens,” Young said. “I’ve been thinking about it. What if I got traded? I got to set my mind, to get a new mind-set, going into a new environment. It’s kind of scary, but you got to prepare for whatever happens.”
McGee had been off limits from trade discussions for much of his time with the Wizards, but the team will also have to decide to give him a lucrative contract this summer. He downplayed the effect of the rumors on his play.
“My name is always floating around somewhere, so it doesn’t matter,” McGee said. “We’re just trying to play basketball. Whoever gets sent wherever, whoever comes here, it’s basketball. You’ve got to be prepared for it. We’re going to play the same game. It’s not like we can change the outcome in one or two games.”
Wall didn’t want to offer any suggestions about what needed to be done . “I think this is the toughest part for the general manager and the whole organization, the coaches,” Wall said. “The toughest part for us is playing throughout this whole season. We really don’t focus on this too much. We don’t really know nothing and we won’t know until the last minute.”
When asked if he preferred to see the Wizards make a move, Wall replied: “I enjoy my team. Even though some nights, we might not play as a team. Sometimes we don’t play hard, but I enjoy playing with these guys. We have a lot of fun and you can see now we have more team chemistry than what we had when we first started.
“It’s the business of it,” he said. “It’s something you’ve got to deal with and move forward, somebody else come new or if everybody stays, you’ve got to keep the chemistry as tough as possible.”
Young then jokingly asked Wall if he knew where he was headed. Wall shook his head and chuckled.