The Washington Wizards have been mentioned in several trade rumors leading up to Thursday’s 3 p.m. deadline for deals, but there have been few hints to suggest that any moves will actually get made.
“I think there’s a lot less chatter than ever before, so I’m not anticipating anything,” Coach Randy Wittman said after Monday’s late-night practice. “But obviously you gotta look, if there’s something there that makes you a better team down the stretch you got to look to do it.”
Wittman has stuck with an eight- or nine-man playing rotation for much of the season, and Al Harrington is expected to return in the next few weeks to possibly provide more front-court depth. The Wizards have an obvious need for help at backup point guard with Garrett Temple playing a larger-than-expected role because of the failings of last summer’s free agent pickup, Eric Maynor.
Over the past few weeks, the Wizards have been liked to New York’s Beno Udrih and Denver’s Andre Miller. Washington was interested in Udrih before signing Maynor. Miller hasn’t played for the Nuggets after having a confrontation with Denver Coach Brian Shaw last month.
According to a league source with knowledge of the situation, the Wizards have expressed in interest in acquiring Miller but have been unable to agree to a package that both sides are willing to accept. The main obstacle, the source said, is finding the salaries to match with the 37-year-old Miller, who earns $5.7 million this season.
With the Wizards roughly $1 million under the luxury tax threshold, they would need to surrender a player making significant money to make a deal happen.
Washington has never paid the luxury tax and owner Ted Leonsis has never been inclined to cross that line for a team that isn’t in the title chase. Unless an all-star-caliber talent comes back in return, it would be tough to justifying paying a hefty price for role player on a team that currently ranks sixth in the Eastern Conference.
Two league sources also shot down a report that the Wizards had planned to work out free agent point guard Rodrigue Beaubois,who has remained unsigned since averaging four points last season in Dallas.
The trade deadline has been relatively quiet as it relates to potential blockbuster deals. All-star weekend usually serves as a critical time for league executives to get more serious about discussions, but one league general manager said last week in New Orleans that his phone had been silent. Teams are leery to make deals, most executives believe, because they don’t want to give up valued draft picks in 2014 or take back big salaries.
Washington already started this season by trading for Marcin Gortat.
“Is there one thing in particular? No,” Wittman said when asked what need the Wizards should look to address. “But I think [General Manager Ernie Grunfeld] and those guys are taking a hard serious look and if an opportunity presents itself to make us a stronger team we’ll look at it.”