One benefit to the Wizards' recent improvement is that there are teams far more desperate than them as the Thursday's NBA trade deadline approaches. Even though they'll be portrayed in reports as the initiator of potential interest in Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith, all signs point to the opposite being the case. Here's why:
Who is really doing the asking here? The Wizards, who are fully healthy and have a winning record since John Wall returned? Or the Hawks, who are determined to move a player that will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and wants a maximum contract even though he doesn't deserve one? Chances are the Hawks have called Washington and 28 other teams.
According to ESPN's Chris Broussard, Washington said John Wall, Bradley Beal and Nene are untouchable. Again, this sounds like the answer to an inquiry from Georgia. The Wizards don't have any incentive to change their current course. Wall is the cornerstone. Beal is on pace for rookie of the year runner-up. The Wizards traded for Nene only a year ago, the kind of veteran big man they couldn't land in free agency and instead got while simultaneously jettisoning JaVale McGee.
Nene's contract -- $13 million per year through the next three seasons -- is expensive but not overpriced. There's no dollar figure to accurately put on the transformation his nearly mythical presence has sparked for the Wizards on and off the court. In the locker room after games, Beal quickly adopted Nene's habit of offering a quick prayer before answering questions from the media. Kevin Seraphin wants to do everything Nene does, to the point where he'd grow dreadlocks if he could do it quicker. Nene is a diva at times, but any notion that his contract has a stranglehold over Washington or that the Wizards want to get rid of him doesn't make sense.
The last thing that the Wizards need, especially with Wall due an extension this summer, is Smith's uncertainty, which should make any potential trade partner wary. There are playoff teams more likely to take the risk. But while the Wizards could make a minor move (such as dealing Jordan Crawford), they aren't a playoff team, and they don't fit the profile for this kind of deadline deal.
- Craig Stouffer