The Washington Wizards appear stuck in NBA purgatory, needing a change to the foundation and makeup of the team’s roster. However, according to team owner Ted Leonsis, any changes won’t include the team’s three cornerstone players, John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter.
Appearing on WTOP, Leonsis made it clear the Wizards are not trading the core three players.
“We’ll see what’s out there,” Leonsis said of the Wizards combing the trade market (h/t NBC Sports Washington). “But I’m not tanking, right? I love when they go, ‘trade Bradley Beal. Trade John Wall. Trade Otto Porter.’ And I go ‘ok, for who?’ We’re not trading any of those players.”
Key phrase from it all, “We’re not trading any of those players.”
Hard to imagine why not. Wall has been injured in each of the last two seasons. He missed 41 games last season with a knee injury and then underwent season-ending heel surgery last month.
Porter has been the least productive of the three and has the most head-scratching contract, paying over $26 million per season. However, his trade market may not be to the liking of the Wizards. Meanwhile, Beal is arguably the most attractive asset, however, he is younger than Wall and has been much more productive than Porter.
The Wizards are 22-29 on the season and 2.5 games out of the eight seed in the Eastern Conference. Leonsis insists the team’s goal is to make the playoffs. And when asked about if he was happy with general manager Ernie Grunfeld, Leonsis didn’t give the answer many Wizards fans hoped.
“I’m happy if we meet our goals,” Leonsis said. “If we don’t meet our goals, we have to sit down and take stock on what do we have to improve during the offseason.”
Leonsis has practiced patience with the Wizards as well as his Washington Capitals. His patience with the Capitals paid off last summer, as the team captured its first-ever Stanley Cup title. People tend to forget there was a large outcry for the Capitals to tear down what was built and rebuild. They didn’t and it turned out to be a good move.
However, the NBA and NHL are total different animals. The NBA is top-heavy and despite Wall, Beal, and Porter being still young it’s hard to imagine Porter developing into the All-Star needed to compete with the top brass of the league. Can Wall and Beal co-exist on the floor with their similar style of play?
Also lost in the Caps’ argument is the fact they made a change at general manager along with making fruitful decisions with the supporting cast surrounding the core they stuck with in Alex Ovechkin, John Carlson, and Nicklas Backstrom.
By the sounds of Leonsis, there may not be a change at GM and by maintaining the hefty max contracts of Beal and Porter and to soon-to-double supermax of Wall, the odds of repeating the Caps’ blueprint is extremely low.