The Wizards lost again Wednesday, 126-115 in overtime at Oklahoma City, blowing a seven-point lead late in the fourth quarter. Washington has won three of five since a 3-9 start, but the first fifth of the season has offered little reason to be optimistic that the Wizards will even qualify for the playoffs after a one-year hiatus, much less earn a seed that would give them a reasonable chance to advance to the second round.
Washington’s bench has been dreadful. Ian Mahinmi, the team’s biggest free agent acquisition excluding Coach Scott Brooks, missed the first 14 games while recovering from knee surgery and has missed the last two game due to soreness in his other knee. Otto Porter continues to improve, Bradley Beal is putting up career-best numbers, and John Wall is, well, being John Wall, but the front office’s “plan” hasn’t produced a roster that looks capable of competing with the big boys in the Eastern Conference anytime soon. That’s why Bill Simmons is the latest to suggest the Wizards should start over by trading Wall.
“They’re going to have to come to grips with whether they want to trade John Wall or not, and what they can get for him,” Simmons said on his latest podcast. “If I’m running Washington, I would trade John Wall right now. I would just move him for picks and do a complete tankapalooza and try to rebuild and put myself in a much better spot. I think it’s going to take years to put a decent team around [him], and I think the fact that Kevin Durant didn’t even want to meet with them should’ve been a come-to-Jesus moment for that team, and apparently it wasn’t.”
The Ringer’s Chris Almeida made the case for trading Wall back in October, arguing that his value may never be higher and none of Washington’s other key contributors, besides Porter, have contracts that expire before 2019.
Wall will become a free agent after the 2018-19 season. As my colleague Jerry Brewer argued before the season, after the Ernie Grunfeld and Co. put all their eggs in Durant’s free agency basket, but hatched Mahinmi, Andrew Nicholson and Trey Burke instead, Washington has a two-year window with Wall. The first year isn’t off to a good start, which could put even more pressure on the Wizards to make the right moves next summer, with or without Grunfeld at the helm.
Wall is a franchise player, a pass-first point guard who makes others around him better, and who does great work in the community. He is perhaps the only player the Wizards shouldn’t consider trading at this juncture, but the clock is ticking, and as the first month of the season has proven, this team is perfectly capable of “tanking” with Wall on the roster.