Almost exactly one week ago, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis mocked the very notion of his team trading any of John Wall, Bradley Beal, or Otto Porter, describing it as essentially a wacky, unworkable, and short-sighted fan theory.
“I love when [fans] go, ‘Trade Bradley Beal, trade John Wall, trade Otto Porter,’” Leonsis said. “And I go, ‘Okay, for who?!’ We’re not trading any of those players.”
Pretty definitive! We’re not trading any of those players. And if anyone should know, it’d be the owner. Anyway certainly the Wizards would never do anything as rash and vile as dealing a good and likable and home-grown player for a miserable, unplayable malcontent, and an expiring contra—
Bobby Portis is in the final year of his rookie contract, and a $3.6 million qualifying offer would force him into restricted free agency in the summer. The Wizards will also have the option of retaining Parker next season, for the low, low price of $20 million, the non-guaranteed salary of the second year of the deal he signed with Chicago before bombing out of their rotation. They will retain neither player, unless they can get them for super cheap—Bobby Marks has it as the Wizards diving under the luxury tax threshold and cutting $28 million from their cap sheet for next season.
Leonsis also recently derided the suggestion that his team would or should use the devastating news of John Wall’s crab meat lower leg to slide into tanking mode for at least the remainder of this season:
“I don’t think you can tell players, coaches, staff: ‘Don’t make the playoffs and tank!’ We will never, ever tank.”
Trading a solid but overpaid starter for two bad players whose primary value is that they make your basketball operation cheaper may not be tanking, but it also sure as shit isn’t putting your best foot forward. To absolutely no one’s great surprise, an organization that doled out a combined $106 million worth of guaranteed money to Ian Mahinmi, Andrew Nicholson, and Jason Smith, in one summer, is now having trouble reconciling its budget and expectations, to such a degree that it now prefers having cheap and expendable bad players instead of expensive good ones. Already this season they’ve turned Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre Jr.—useful and/or promising dudes they’d selected with their own draft picks—into three expiring contracts. We can call it something other than tanking, but whatever it is, it isn’t any better.
Having established that Leonsis is mostly full of shit, and having long accepted that his basketball operation is run with all the wisdom and attention of a dog startling itself out of sleep by farting on its own nose, it is time for someone to coax a promise out of Leonsis to never, ever fire general manager Ernie Grunfeld, the architect of all this endless misery. Maybe then it will have some chance of finally happening.