- G Jordan Poole (trade), G Tyus Jones (trade), F Bilal Coulibaly (draft), G Landry Shamet (trade)
- G Bradley Beal, F Kristaps Porzingis, G Monte Morris
The Wizards fell into the muck after losing 12 of 13 in winter and stayed there, troubled by Beal’s 32 missed games, an inability to play defense or compete against the cream of the league. As a result, once again the Wizards failed to reach the playoffs or flash any authentic signs of progress.
Even when healthy, Beal (23.2 ppg average) was just decent, far from the feared scorer who averaged more than 30 points just a few years ago, and certainly not a franchise player by any definition. Even more, the Wizards fans seemed ambivalent toward him, not caring if he stayed or went.
Meanwhile, Kyle Kuzma assumed a larger role when Beal was absent and prospered for the most part, with improvements across the board. But the real revelation in Washington was Porzingis. Finally healthy — he played 65 games for the first time since 2017 — the center was often the best Washington player on the floor.
Elsewhere in the rotation, the results were mixed at best. Rui Hachimura was traded (actually, given away for next to nothing) at the deadline because he never lived up to his draft status. And the Wizards’ draft strategy, a constant sore subject, saw more of the same from Deni Avdija, Corey Kispert and especially rookie Johnny Davis, a lottery pick who spent a segment of his first season stashed in the G League.
The Wizards entered the summer prime for major changes, although folks had heard that one before.
The moment Wizards fans had hoped for finally happened when owner Ted Leonsis decided a tear-down was necessary. For far too long, the Wizards tried to keep Beal as a centerpiece, which didn’t work and never made Washington anything more than a mid-level team.
So Leonsis went with a new management team, appointing Michael Winger (Clippers) as team president and Will Dawkins (OKC) as general manager. Leonsis wouldn’t have done this without giving Winger assurances to do whatever was necessary without interference.
— NBA TV (@NBATV) September 21, 2023
That’s when the predictable happened: Beal was shipped out, though not without complications, because Winger had to work around the no-trade clause inexplicably given to Beal (along with a max contract extension) the previous summer. The Wizards found a taker in Phoenix, yet because of the no-trade, Washington received far less for Beal’s value than they could have prior.
And why stop there? Porzingis was dealt in a three-team transaction that fetched Jones from the Grizzlies. In Memphis, he was one of the league’s better backup point guards; Jones should start in Washington.
Winger didn’t remove all the furniture, though. Kuzma was extended, inking a four-year deal at $25.5 million per, a fair price for someone who’s becoming a dependable lead scorer after years of a secondary role with the Lakers.
He’ll tag-team with Poole, another player who can average 20 points. Washington becomes a soft landing spot after a disappointing season in Golden State. Poole broke out two seasons ago and helped the Warriors win a title – he’s a decent player, with flaws. The Wizards hope the change of scenery will do him good.
Washington didn’t land the No. 1 pick and therefore missed out on Victor Wembanyama, but as a consolation, the Wizards drafted his French teammate. Coulibaly is a promising two-way player who might find himself in the thick of the rotation, if only because the competition for minutes isn’t expected to be strong.
The Summer of 2023 launches a new direction for the Wizards – one they’re hoping points forward.
> 30 teams in 30 days: Complete schedule
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