With his Wizards set to face the Knicks today in London, owner Ted Leonsis told reporters, including Candace Buckner of The Washington Post (Twitter link), that the plan is for the club to continue contending for the postseason, despite the season-ending injury to star point guard John Wall.
“We will never, ever tank,” Leonsis said, per Buckner.
Since Wall went down, the Wizards have held their own, winning five of nine games, including victories over Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee. Bradley Beal has taken his game to another level during that stretch, averaging 30.2 PPG on .472/.413/.804 shooting as Washington’s go-to offensive option. And, according to Leonsis, Beal believes that the Wizards still have enough talent on their roster to earn a playoff spot.
“Bradley Beal has told me, ‘We have enough. … We’re not going to let you down,'” Leonsis said today to reporters (Twitter link via Hoop District). “We’re not letting anybody off the hook — we’ve got to make the playoffs.”
While the Wizards are still just 18-26, their path to a postseason berth isn’t as challenging in the Eastern Conference as it would be out West. Currently, the eighth-seeded Hornets have a 20-23 mark, putting them just 2.5 games ahead of Washington. The Pistons (19-24) and Magic (19-25) are also in the mix for that No. 8 seed.
If the Wizards are all-in on making a playoff push, as Leonsis states, it will likely eliminate a couple significant in-season trade chips from the market. Beal and Otto Porter have been at the center of a number of trade rumors this season, since they’d be excellent fits for teams in need of an offensive play-maker or a three-and-D wing, respectively — plus, moving one or both could help Washington clear up its long-term salary cap outlook. But the Wizards figure to hang onto both players, as they’ll be critical parts of any second-half run.