Over the last few weeks we have discussed whether teams should trade or not before the deadline. Today we will look at two teams, the Washington Wizards and Portland Trail Blazers. We’ll do it in a different way. We will look at both teams simultaneously because they have a lot in common.
Before we get started keep in mind something Danny Ainge did years ago. Instead of allowing Paul Pierce, a Celtic great, and Kevin Garnett to retire as Celtics he traded them. These two players were instrumental in the Celtics winning a title in 2008 and considered Boston legends. That trade brought the Celtics Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown and sped up the Celtics rebuild.
The worst thing that can happen to an NBA team is to be stuck in the middle of the standings because it is difficult for a team to improve and move up to the highest echelon of the league. The Wizards and the Trail Blazers are those teams. It makes me wonder if those teams organizations care about winning. Both of those teams just decided to pay their aging superstars, Bradley Beal and Damian Lillard, max money as they enter their thirty plus years. Their teams have seen their availability decrease each year.
Beal played only forty games last year and his points per game has decreased from a high of thirty-one in 2019 to twenty-two this year. Yet Washington just signed him to a contract averaging over forty-eight millions over the next four years. Lillard, just signed a new contract for roughly the same money as Beal. Their teams remain mediocre and their salaries will cut into the salary cap heavily over the life of their contracts.
The Wizards also have Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle Kuzma on contracts that allow both players to choose their option for next year. In Kuzma’s case he will probably decline because he makes thirteen million and his market value is much higher right now. Porzingis may return because he is making in the thirty-six million range next year and he shouldn’t be able to get that in his next contract.
As for Portland they have Jerami Grant‘s contract up at the end of the year. Grant has talked about wanting to return to Portland next year. Anfernee Simons and Jusuf Nurkic have both signed contracts that are for three additional years after this year.
If both teams continue with the players they have today they are destined to years of being play in type teams. As Beal and Lillard age their trade value will decrease and now is the best time to deal them. I believe both teams should look to deal as many of the players I have mentioned. The deals should be for expiring contracts and as many draft picks possible. It seems both teams need to begin their rebuild immediately. This weeks buy or sell seems easy, sell.