The Wizards need to trade Bradley Beal before the NBA deadline at 3 p.m. today. After reportedly agreeing to a deal to send Otto Porter Jr. to the Bulls on Wednesday, they need to make everyone available. Forget fire sale — this is a bonfire sale.
And oh, finally get rid of general manager Ernie Grunfeld.
Tuesday’s news that John Wall ruptured his Achilles tendon signaled the end of the Wizards as we know them. Wall might not return until the 2020-21 season, and he’ll probably be a shadow of himself. It’s time to move on to a new era and take radical steps, because Washington’s current methods sure aren’t working.
The Wizards need to accumulate a fistful of picks and have someone new make those draft decisions. It can’t be Grunfeld, who has repeatedly wasted picks on European projects who never worked out. Wizards owner Ted Leonsis needs to listen to his remaining fans who have been begging him to fire the GM. If Leonsis loves Grunfeld so much, pay him to oversee the Capital City Go-Go of the G League, but the Wizards need a new direction.
There’s nothing to salvage. It would be easy to decide to build around Beal, but the two-time All-Star is more valuable to the team’s future as trade bait. Beal probably won’t want to re-sign in 2021 anyway, so the Wizards should get a first-rounder who can help when they are ready to win again.
Leonsis will likely resist a complete rebuild, and Grunfeld will insist that they patch a few spots and await Wall’s return. But that’s just wasting time. Past efforts to rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic have this team steadily sinking to the bottom of the NBA.
Sure, Leonsis says he won’t tank, because the NBA would punish him otherwise. Dallas owner Mark Cuban was fined $600,000 for such talk last year. But tanking is exactly what the Wizards should do. Trying to squeak into the playoffs as an eighth seed is foolish. This team needs to completely crumble if it’s going to rise from the ashes.
The upside in the NBA is that teams can quickly bounce back if they hit in the draft. The Wizards need to find two future stars over the next few drafts, and they’ll need to acquire enough picks to offset their talent evaluators’ inevitable misses.
The Wizards have three tasks before the NBA draft in June: trade players for picks, miss the playoffs to be in the lottery and fire Grunfeld. Maybe they’ll get a top-three selection and be able to draft a difference-maker like Duke’s Zion Williamson or RJ Barrett or Murray State’s Ja Morant.
But unless the Wizards take radical steps like trading Beal, they’ll never emerge from this cycle of mediocrity that has largely smothered the franchise since 1980. The team has no chance of ever being a true contender unless it starts over once more.
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