But the Wizards aren’t done dealing yet, and they will spend the remaining hours leading up to the deadline focused on trying to find one more bench piece to complete the makeover of their second unit as they prepare for what they hope will be their deepest playoff run in decades.
Specifically, the Wizards would like to find a guard, allowing them to upgrade their backup point guard spot behind all-star John Wall. Because they shipped out their first-round pick to acquire Bogdanovic and McCullough (more on that in a minute), the Wizards will likely be looking to dangle a combination of Trey Burke — who is on an expiring contract — and a second-round pick to find an upgrade, presumably on an expiring contract. That’s why names like Sacramento’s Darren Collison and New York’s Brandon Jennings could make sense, among others.
The return of Mahinmi, along with the recent uptick in Smith’s performance, means the Wizards have no reason to look for a big man, and the combination of Oubre and Bogdanovic on the wings gives them a strong four-man wing rotation behind starters Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr.
Bogdanovic, in particular, should fit extremely well as a second-unit scorer in Washington. A solid three-point shooter who averaged 14.2 points and shot 35.7 percent from three-point range in Brooklyn playing 27 minutes a game as a starter, Bogdanovic should benefit greatly from time he’ll spend on the court with Wall — easily the best point guard he’s ever played with, and one of the best players in the league at setting others up for three-point shots.
While Porter (46.7 percent) and Beal (40.2 percent) have been excellent from behind the arc, no one else on the team has proven to be much of a consistent threat from deep. Bogdanovic, who has attempted five triples a game this season with Brooklyn, will give Washington another option there and should allow Coach Scott Brooks to ease back on the minutes for both Beal and Porter down the stretch.
From Washington’s standpoint, however, this deal is equally important for its financial situation moving forward. Moving off Nicholson’s contract for the next three seasons while taking on McCullough’s $1.4 million salary for next season means the Wizards are sitting at $91.9 million committed to 10 players next year (plus the stretched salary of Martell Webster that remains on their books).
If the cap rises to the current projection of around $102 million for next season, that would allow the Wizards to match any contract offer for Porter in free agency and still remain under the luxury tax line, while retaining the rights to Bogdanovic as a restricted free agent will allow Washington to potentially bring him back, as well, if the price is right.
Meanwhile, McCullough should be viewed as the wild card in the deal. The 29th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft out of Syracuse, McCullough has only played in 38 games as a pro — including 14 for a grand total of 72 minutes this season. He’s a long, athletic forward, listed at 6-foot-10 and with long arms and the ability to shoot from the perimeter, leaving open the possibility he could become the kind of player every team is looking for that can stretch the floor offensively and protect the rim defensively.
But he’s also played very little for the worst team in the league, so the expectation shouldn’t be for him to come in a claim a rotation spot for a playoff team. If he can turn into a rotation player down the road, though, it would help ease Washington’s payroll burden by giving them a cheap contributor moving forward.
In the short term, though, adding Bogdanovic — and shedding Nicholson’s salary — is what matters here. Between him and Mahinmi, the Wizards have essentially added two new players to their second unit over the past few weeks. If they can add another guard between now and the deadline, Washington can enter the stretch run with the strongest team its had since the Gilbert Arenas-Caron Butler-Antawn Jamison teams of the mid-2000s and the best chance of making a deep and impactful playoff run since the great Bullets teams of the 1970s.
That was the goal this team had going into the deadline. After Wednesday’s trade, the Wizards are one move closer — and one move away — from pulling off the complete second-unit makeover they were hoping to achieve as the deadline approached.