Do Washington Wizards Need Another Trade to Ensure Playoff Bid?

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Do Washington Wizards Need Another Trade to Ensure Playoff Bid?
Duane Burleson/Associated Press
Young power forward Greg Monroe is on the trading block, with the Wizards rumored to be strong contenders to be his next team. But do the Wizards need to pull the trigger to be a playoff team this season?

Heading into Saturday night's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Washington Wizards are the No. 6 seed in the NBA's Eastern Conference but are just 3.5 games back of third-seeded Toronto.

But will the Wizards' roster as currently composed prevent them from moving up in the standings? 

There are a number potential of trades the Wizards could make to improve their positioning for a postseason spot. 

Most recently, the Wizards have been mentioned in trade rumors involving both the Detroit Pistons' young power forward Greg Monroe and Chicago's backup power forward Taj Gibson.

While these trades might be nice for the Wizards, neither are necessary for the team to pick up its first playoff berth in five seasons. It's certainly not worth the Wizards giving up some of their better players to make these moves.

Here's why. 

 

The pieces are in place for the Wizards to make a playoff run

If the playoffs started today, Washington would be in. Between John Wall, Bradley Beal and Co., there is plenty of fire power on the Wizards to make the playoffs, especially in the perennially weak Eastern Conference. 

Right now, the Charlotte Bobcats would be the eighth seed with a record six games below .500. 

NBA Eastern Conference Playoff Teams
Team Record Conference record
Indiana Pacers 35-10 22-5
Miami Heat 32-13 20-10
Toronto Raptors 25-21 17-12
Atlanta Hawks 24-21 17-11
Chicago Bulls 23-22 18-12
Washington Wizards 22-23 17-12
Brooklyn Nets 20-24 13-15
Charlotte Bobcats 21-27 15-16

NBA.com

Even with the New York Knicks heating up, there is no way the Wizards will lose enough games in the second half of the season—barring some seriously devastating injuries—to drop out of the playoffs.

The Wizards are 17-12 in the Eastern Conference and 4-2 in the Southeast Division, with 17 of their last 24 games being against Eastern Conference opponents. If Wall and Beal continue to play at the level to which they've been playing, Washington should maintain a record at or around .500.

Heading into the season, Randy Wittman, the front office and pretty much the entire Wizards team said the main goal was to make the playoffs. 

If that is all team president Ernie Grunfeld was after, then a trade isn't really necessary. 

Acquiring Greg Monroe might make the Wizards better equipped to make more playoff runs in the future, but as far as this year is concerned, the Wizards might be better off hanging onto Nene and riding with the core group of players they have right now. 

Depth, however, is an issue for the Wizards, as their bench has been underperforming this season. But with the current roster, the playoffs are a lock for Washington. 

 

The current roster has plenty of room for improvement

At 23, Monroe is a very young talent in this league, making him an obvious target for almost any team looking for a long-term solution at power forward. 

But the Wizards should be more concerned developing the young talent they already have, rather than sending away such assets and starting over with different young players. 

Trevor Booker has never looked better in just his fourth season in the league, making 19 starts and ranking second on the team in field-goal percentage. And Booker isn't the only young player who just need time to develop. 

People seem to have already forgotten about the third overall pick in this year's draft, Otto Porter Jr., as well as Glen Rice Jr. Both players need more time in the NBA or the Development League to get their feet under them. It's far too early to throw in the towel on Porter. 

Again, if Grunfeld just wanted to make the playoffs this year, he needs to have faith that his struggling bench will eventually improve. 

Jan Vesely is logging some solid defensive minutes, and when he's given playing time, Kevin Seraphin has been effective. In 29 minutes against the Los Angeles Clippers, Seraphin had 10 points, adding seven rebounds and a block. 

And in 23 minutes against Philadelphia on Jan. 20, Seraphin had 16 points, seven rebounds and a block on 6-for-10 shooting. 

Should the Wizards trade for Greg Monroe or Taj Gibson?

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Eric Maynor and Porter have really been the only disappointing players on the roster, and trading for Monroe or Gibson would not resolve their struggles. 

For the goals the Wizards set for themselves this season, a trade for Monroe or Gibson isn't necessarily going to better their chances.

Instead, it would be best to sit back and hope that the younger reserves develop over the remainder of the season. Then Grunfeld can make his final judgments before trading anybody away.

 

It's not worth giving up the likely trade pieces

If the Wizards were to pull off a trade for Monroe or Gibson, the two most likely candidates to be shipped out are center Marcin Gortat and/or forward Trevor Ariza, mainly because of their expiring contracts. 

But neither player is worth trading. Between the two, they are making over $15 million this season, though Ariza's $7 million contract is more than he should be making.  However, Ariza is third on the team in scoring and rebounding, and is one of the team's better three-point shooters.

Ariza is also one of the best defensive small forwards in the East. Just look at this defense on Stephen Curry in the final seconds of Washington's recent road win over the Golden State Warriors

Gortat also makes the case as the third-most valuable player in Washington, behind only Wall and Beal. 

He is the only Wizard besides Wall to appear in every game this season, and he leads the team in rebounds and blocks. 

With big men high in demand in today's NBA, there's a chance that Gortat could leave in free agency. 

But when his and Ariza's contracts come off the books at the end of the year, the Wizards could make a run at Monroe in free agency if he doesn't return to Detroit—and the Piston likely wouldn't want to match a max contract should Washington offer one to Monroe.

The Pistons have no need for Gortat with Andre Drummond already on the roster, and if the Wizards give up Ariza, then there's a huge hole at small forward. 

Martell Webster could start in place of Ariza, but that would demand that Rice and the struggling Porter play more minutes off the bench. And Webster would no longer sub for Beal at shooting guard, meaning that the move of Webster to the 3 would require the overmatched Garrett Temple to play more minutes in the rotation.

The only other possibility could be Porter for Monroe, straight up, though I believe it is still too early for the Wizards to give up on this year's No. 1 pick. 

Even if they wanted to make small moves to try to bolster the weak bench, it wouldn't be worth giving up any of those pieces, either. 

Someone like Ariza or Gortat isn't nearly as valuable as a backup point guard or shooting guard. 

And if the Wizards wanted to do a one-for-one trade, say Eric Maynor for another point guard, who would take Maynor at this point? Or Temple?

Because of the lack of big names and strong play on the bench, the Wizards are really limited to pulling off a bigger trade like Gibson or Monroe, because their bench players hardly hold any value at this point, and it's not worth over compensating for another bench player by giving up Gortat or Ariza.

Washington's best move right now is to hang onto the pieces they have and pursue Monroe in free agency if they want to find a power forward for the future. 

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