The Wizards had been rumored as a possible destination for Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith, but three league sources all denied that the team was a serious contender for his services.
Smith, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, is still expected to get moved by Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline, with Milwaukee and Brooklyn rumored to be the front-runners to acquire him.
When the Hawks put the versatile, 6-foot-9 forward on the block, the Wizards considered taking a gamble. Smith is a talented player whose skillset matches with the Wizards’ desires to be a more up-tempo team, but his salary demands – a maximum contract worth $94 million over five years – and what the Hawks sought in return forced the team to cool on its pursuit, according to a league source with knowledge of the team’s plans who spoke on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the situation.
If the Wizards make a trade before the deadline, reserve shooting guard Jordan Crawford is the most likely candidate to be dealt but they might not get much in return. When asked what the Wizards could possibly get for Crawford, one rival Eastern Conference executive replied, “very little.”
According to the league source with knowledge of the team’s plans, the Wizards have been making and fielding calls to possibly deal Crawford, who has fallen out of Coach Randy Wittman’s rotation and doesn’t appear to be a part of the franchise’s future plans.
Perhaps the best one-on-one scorer on the roster, Crawford has had some big games this season and ranks third on the team in scoring. He averaged 19.1 points, 6.1 assists and 5.1 rebounds in December and became one of five players in NBA history have a game with at least 27 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists and one turnover in an overtime loss to Atlanta (Jason Kidd, Gary Payton, Baron Davis, Latrell Sprewell and Antoine Walker were the others).
But Crawford has been an ill fit since John Wall returned from his left knee injury and Wittman began stressing a system of increased ball movement that doesn’t rely on one or two scorers. Crawford become more expendable with the emergence of rookie Bradley Beal. The team has also gone 5-3 without him in the past eight games that he has missed.
A bone bruise in Crawford’s left ankle forced him to miss four games last month but he seemed amenable to a reserve role when he returned from a four-game absence. He even made his first career game-winner, nailing a fallaway three-pointer in a 98-95 win in Portland.
The 27th pick of the 2010 draft, Crawford was acquired from Atlanta at the trade deadline two years ago and quickly blossomed in Washington. But the Wizards may look to simply move on after he proved to be unwilling to accept his role off the bench, especially after Wittman gave Garrett Temple the starting nod over him when Beal missed five games with a sprained right wrist.