The Wizards have been below .500 and on the outside of the Eastern playoff picture all season, leading to speculation that the team may shop highly-paid veterans like John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter. Asked today during a Q&A with WTOP in Washington about that possibility, however, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis dismissed the idea of a huge pre-deadline deal.
“We’re not trading any of those players,” Leonsis said of his Big Three, per Noah Frank of WTOP (Twitter link).
It’s the second major declaration this month by Leonsis, who said two weeks ago that the Wizards will “never, ever tank.” It was clear at that point that Washington planned to hang onto Beal, who has been leading the charge to get the team back into playoff position. Recent reports have indicated that the Wizards may be more open to the idea of moving Porter, but Leonsis’ comments today seem to suggest that’s not in the cards this season.
As for Wall, he’ll be sidelined for the rest of the 2018/19 campaign with a heel injury and is owed approximately $170MM over the next four years, so he has always been considered an unlikely trade candidate.
Of course, even though the Wizards don’t intend to move one of their most expensive players, that doesn’t mean they’ll stand pat at the deadline. Leonsis suggested today that the club could look to add around the edges within the next week, Frank tweets. The Wizards’ owner also noted that he views Washington’s 2019 first-round pick as a way to improve the roster for next season, adding, “I wouldn’t throw in the towel on this core.”
Leonsis avoided directly addressing the future of general manager Ernie Grunfeld, but it seems safe to assume that he’ll re-evaluate the management group if the Wizards end up in the lottery. When asked if he was happy with Grunfeld, Leonsis replied that he’s happy if the club meets its goals (Twitter link via Frank). For now, the goal is a playoff spot.