The Washington Wizards are in perfect position to make the playoffs, but they need to make at least one move prior to the trade deadline if they want to be a second-round team.
Despite several rumors surrounding the Wizards, no one particular move has really stood out as something team president and general manager Ernie Grunfeld would really want to pull the trigger on.
There’s also the issue of who exactly the Wizards would trade away. Marcin Gortat is currently leading the team in blocks and rebounds and no team is likely to take on the $13 million per year that Nene is making.
That leaves Trevor Ariza, whose contract is expiring at the end of this season. However, J. Michael of Comcast SportsNet Washington said the Wizards are going to “do their best” to retain Ariza.
Washington also traded away its first-round pick to the Phoenix Suns for Gortat before the season began.
Other trade pieces could possibly include the struggling Eric Maynor and first-round pick Otto Porter Jr., or even young power forwards Trevor Booker and Jan Vesely.
But if Grunfeld is willing to trade away any of these pieces, who exactly should the Wizards be targeting with just 16 days to go before the deadline?
Backup point guard
John Wall has been magnificent at point this season, making his first All-Star appearance, but he shouldn’t continue the minutes he’s playing right now for the remainder of the season.
Wall is playing almost 37 minutes per game in 2013-14, starting all 47 games, but backup Eric Maynor is playing the least amount of minutes on the team.
Washington brought Maynor in as a free-agent this offseason, but he is rarely seen on the court, and even when he’s playing, Maynor hasn’t shown that he deserves to be even a backup.
In 23 games, Maynor is averaging just 2.3 points and 2.7 assists, and he is shooting just 29.2 percent from the floor.
Given that Wall has had at least some history of injury, the Wizards really should be shopping around for a backup who can play 15 minutes a night and be far more productive than Maynor, who is contributing to Washington’s bench problems this season.
Veteran Andre Miller is a potential candidate. He had a falling out with the Denver Nuggets earlier this season, and hasn’t played in a game since Dec. 30.
Denver should be pretty willing to part ways with him given that he is virtually useless to them at this point.
Miller has appeared in 30 games this season, shooting almost 46 percent and averaging 3.3 assists and 2.4 points.
However, Miller’s contract extends through next season, so the Wizards would have to pay a 38-year-old $4.625 million next season if they would want to keep him on.
A long-term solution at power forward
The most talked about trade rumor involving the Wizards is that they want to trade the Detroit Pistons for 24-year-old Greg Monroe.
Monroe is a very promising power forward, averaging 14.4 points this season while shooting 51.1 percent and picking up almost nine rebounds per game.
Unfortunately, Monroe’s contract expires at the end of this season so Washington would need to be confident that it could bring Monroe back next season if he comes to the Wizards.
Nene isn’t getting younger any time soon, and you never know when his next injury is going to come.
Booker and Vesely have been solid role players this season, but neither are shaping up to be a long-term solution to Washington’s starting power forward needs.
The team is building around the youth of Wall and Bradley Beal, so bringing in a younger player such as Monroe would go a long way toward building for the future.
The road block here, though, is that Detroit already has a log jam in the frontcourt with Monroe, Andre Drummond, Charlie Villanueva and Josh Harrellson, so a trade offer containing any of Washington’s big men (Nene, Vesely or Booker) wouldn’t be very attractive to the Pistons.
They might go for a deal involving Porter, who has yet to get a feel for the NBA, but Grunfeld may want to wait a few years on Porter before giving up on him.
Gortat has been a great acquisition for the Wizards, and has arguably been the third best player on the team.
But like the situation that Wall is in, there’s not much behind him.
Although Gibson is primarily a power forward, he has started at center for the Bulls before in his four-year career, and mainly comes off the bench as a big man.
Gibson is under contract through the 2016-17 season, and is in the middle of his best offensive career in the NBA, averaging 12.3 points and one assist in addition to a 71.6 percent free-throw percentage.
Again, though, this comes down to who the Wizards can give up. With no Deng, the Bulls could be looking for a small forward, and unless they trade away Carlos Boozer as well, the frontcourt isn’t in desperate of any help in Chicago.
A last-minute trade or not, the Wizards are in great position to make the playoffs.
It's just a matter of how much Grunfeld is willing to mix up the chemistry on this team to try to get that much better that the Wizards could be a viable threat in the playoffs.