I can guarantee you one thing: this NBA offseason is sure to be unique. It might not possess the same level of drama that your typical NBA offseason has come to habituate, but it will certainly have some things we’ve never seen before. There’s an air of tentativeness hanging over the NBA offseason. Not only are teams posturing for the much more appealing free agent class of 2021, but many are adjusting on the fly as the cap for the 2020-21 season takes a hit due to the coronavirus. These and other factors may lead to an NBA offseason without much movement, but I do have one crazy idea for the Washington Wizards. They should trade for Blake Griffin.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “KJ, why would you do this to the poor Wizards? Haven’t they been through enough?” Just hear me out before you cast me off as a heartless human being capitalizing on the misery of a team slowly climbing their way up the dysfunctional franchise rankings.
By all accounts, the Wizards aren’t planning on trading Bradley Beal. Despite strong interest across the league, Washington is intent on keeping their star sharpshooter. If the Wizards want to keep Beal, they must have some goal to compete. With John Wall coming back and his contract being pretty much untradable, maybe riding the Wall-Beal duo until the wheels fall off is their only option. If that’s what they’re planning to do, they might as well go all in. Wall and Beal along isn’t enough to make much noise, even in the East.
The issue for Washington is this: They need another piece, but they don’t have the assets to acquire one of significant value. They’re not getting their hands on any sure thing with Mo Wagner and Jerome Robinson. If the Wizards want another star, they’ll have to buy low. So, who’s a star around the league whose value is at an all-time low that could still have a chance to return to an All-Star level? Look no further than Blake Griffin.
While going all-in on two has-beens in Wall and Griffin around a bona fide star in Bradley Beal isn’t the best plan, but it’s at least a plan, which is more than the Wizards have right now. Hoping upon hope that one of either Rui Hachimura or whoever they draft with the 9th pick in 2020 blossoms into a star capable of winning at a high level alongside Beal and Wall before the end of their primes is more unrealistic than hoping you can squeeze the last ounce of basketball Blake Griffin has left in him, to steal a sentiment from Brad Pitt’s portrayal of Billy Beane in Moneyball.
If Wall and Griffin return to full health, they potentially have three borderline All-Star players. That trio together could seriously compete to win an NBA playoff series. It doesn’t sound like much, but if the Wizards aren’t going to tank, that might be the best they can do. How the Wizards match Blake Griffin’s incoming salary without trading away Wall or Beal is a little complicated, but it’s possible. They’d probably have to do a sign-and-trade with one of their free agents or trade away Thomas Bryant and then sign someone like Hassan Whiteside to replace him in free agency. Even then, it would probably have to be a 6-for-1 type of deal, but let’s be honest, it’s not like the Wizards have a whole lot at the end of their bench that’s worth holding onto anyway.
For what it’s worth, they still should be able to hold onto Hachimura and the 9th pick in this potential deal. Griffin shouldn’t demand much given he’s coming off season-ending knee surgery and still commands big money. The deal would stick the Wizards with a steep luxury tax bill once the rest of their roster is filled out, but that’s the price of poker. It might make more sense to tank, but if the Wizards don’t want to do that, this is the other option. Middling it will get them nowhere.
It’s not a great trade for either team, but there’s nothing better than a little bit of craziness in the NBA. The point of this is, if the Wizards really aren’t going to trade away Bradley Beal, they have to start getting creative if they want to maximize his prime and have any chance at competing. This move isn’t going to win the Wizards the championship, but it’s really the best they can do. It might be the only hope for both the Wizards in their current form and Blake Griffin. It might not work. In fact, it probably won’t work. Even so, they’re the only team desperate enough to take a chance on Griffin that might also have a chance of winning with him. If they can also sign Rodney Hood and complete the hospital unit, they’ll at least be a lot more interesting. In the NBA, sometimes being interesting is as fun as being good. Maybe not for Washington, but at least for the rest of us.Photo: (Brian Sevald – NBAE/Getty Images)