The imploding Washington Wizards finally appear willing to acknowledge that they are broken.
Is there a sensible trade that could help repair the Wizards without getting too much Washington stink on an acquiring team? Here are four possibilities.
The Wizards dump Wall's contract and reset team culture while remaining respectable in the East.
Washington stays in the luxury tax with this deal but would save money down the line. Dragic has a player option worth $19 million that he'll likely exercise, and Johnson is guaranteed $31 million through 2021. Even if the Wizards paid out the entirety of Dragic's and Johnson's contracts, that still pales in comparison to the $170 million owed to Wall through 2023. (Mahinmi, for his part, is due $15 million next year.)
This also gives the Wizards at least one season to see if Beal and Otto Porter can take on bigger roles. Last season demonstrated that Wall's absence leads to more ball movement, and Washington acquires two strong passers here. Dragic is an above-average starting point guard who can replicate some of Wall's slashing ability while allowing Beal to be the No. 1 option. Johnson could be useful as a point forward off the bench, although it's unclear if he can find the same success beyond South Beach.
Miami makes this trade because it's desperate to acquire a star. Taking on Wall's contract is risky, but the Heat were already capped out for the foreseeable future. As recently as 2017, Wall was the best two-way guard in the conference. Though he's struggled with his fitness since, the Heat have a proven track record of getting players into peak shape.
For the Wizards, the biggest boon here is cap relief. Anderson's deal is only partially guaranteed for 2019-20, Warren is locked up for three seasons beyond this one at a team-friendly figure, and Okobo's second-round rookie contract features a $1.8-million team option in 2021-22. Meanwhile, Washington wriggles out of its onerous commitment to Wall, gets out of Mahinmi's ugly deal, and gets a chance to reboot with a more malleable roster built around Beal.
The basketball side of things could work, too. Warren is a strong complementary scorer who has seemingly remedied the most glaring weakness in his offensive game. Long an inside-the-arc operator, he's shooting 46.3 percent from 3-point range on nearly four attempts per game this season. He'll never be mistaken for a facilitator, but he won't monopolize the ball either. If the bulk of playmaking duties shift to Beal, Warren slots in pretty nicely. Between Warren, Porter, Kelly Oubre, Tomas Satoransky, and Austin Rivers, the Wizards would have a deep and balanced wing corps with plenty of shooting and positional flexibility. Throw in Okobo, a toolsy point guard with a 6-foot-8 wingspan, and Washington comes out of this trade with a more promising outlook.
The big question is whether the Suns would be willing to bite. They've long been in need of a point guard, and Wall and Devin Booker could form a potent offensive backcourt, but they'd risk stunting Booker's growth as a pick-and-roll creator, and the same kind of power struggle that's festered between Wall and Beal could brew in Phoenix. Then there's the cost: The Suns would be on the hook for $80 million for Wall and Booker alone in 2022-23.
But we've never seen Wall work alongside a roll man as skilled as Deandre Ayton (especially if you project ahead a couple years), and a change of scenery might rejuvenate the 28-year-old. If the Suns reasonably decide they won't be able to make better use of their cap space, they could do worse than acquiring an All-Star-caliber point guard without surrendering any of their best assets.
In this scenario, Washington retools around Wall and gets under the luxury tax for the foreseeable future.
Ingram is a former No. 2 pick who's shown flashes of All-Star potential, and Hart's developed into a quality 3-and-D player in his second season. Both players are cost-controlled and can be retained as long-term pieces. Caldwell-Pope and Rondo are expiring contracts that will be off the team in a year, which will help the Wizards cut salary.
Meanwhile, the Lakers receive a reliable secondary scorer to pair with LeBron James. Beal is already an All-Star-caliber guard at age 25, he's on a reasonable deal for another three seasons, and his catch-and-shoot game fits perfectly alongside James. Having struck out on Paul George, Jimmy Butler, and Kawhi Leonard, the Lakers can't afford to keep testing James' patience by relying entirely on free agency.
L.A. would lose some depth, but Rondo's largely superfluous with so many ball-handlers on the team, and Caldwell-Pope has yet to pan out as a starting-level 3-and-D wing.
Anunoby would be the big get for the Wizards. He's 21 and already a borderline-elite defender with a passable stationary jumper and a developing off-the-bounce game. He should grow into a better version of Porter, only he'll probably gripe less about his touches.
Don't sleep on Ibaka, either. The three-time All-Defensive Team selection is scoring at a career-high rate with career-best efficiency. Wall's been angling for Washington to acquire athletic bigs for a while, and Ibaka would give him a dynamic pick-and-roll dance partner - a guy who can actually pop as well as roll.
For Toronto, this would be the rare all-in move that still offers plenty of runway to the future. Losing Anunoby would hurt. So would coughing up another first-rounder, since the Raptors already owe the Spurs their 2019 pick. And Ibaka, as unreliable as he's been in the past, has been a consistently vital component of this year's team. But Beal is under contract through 2020-21, and he's still just 25. Even if Leonard were to leave after this season, the Raptors would have an All-Star squarely in his prime to build around.
Their depth and defensive versatility would take a hit, and they'd likely need to grab another big man on the buyout market or in a separate trade. But top-end talent wins championships, and that is an entirely realistic goal for this team. They'd probably sign up for a starting five of Beal, Leonard, Pascal Siakam, Kyle Lowry, and Jonas Valanciunas, with Danny Green, Delon Wright, Fred VanVleet, C.J. Miles, Greg Monroe, and Norman Powell coming off the bench.