The NBA trade deadline is fast approaching. Thursday, February 6 is just about two weeks away. At 15-29, the Wizards are in an interesting position just 3.5 games from the 8 seed. They could use the deadline to deal some of their pieces to contenders, or make moves to improve the team now. They could also stay put. The more likely options are staying put or dealing their own guys, but crazier things have happened in this league. While some guys careers haven’t panned out for their current teams, often times a fresh start can do wonders. The Wizards could look to use the rest of the season to find these guys.
Buy-low Options the Wizards Could Target
With limited money and draft capital, General Manager Tommy Sheppard made multiple buy-low moves to fill out the roster this offseason. Many of them worked out very well. Sheppard traded the rights to Aaron White for Davis Bertans, who has arguably been the Wizards second best player. They also sent just cash for Moe Wagner and Isaac Bonga, who have been two of the Wizards’ best defenders. Sheppard could use the deadline to try to pull off similar moves. Here are a few potential targets for the Wizards at the deadline.
Harry Giles III, Power Forward, Kings
At just 21 years old, Giles III has shown plenty of flashes in his young NBA career. He has been injured for much of it as well. Giles III has played just 18 games so far this season, and plays in a very crowded front court next to Marvin Bagley, Dwayne Dedmon, Richaun Holmes and Nemanja Bjelica.
Bagley and Holmes are both down with injuries, yet that hasn’t helped him get much playing time. He has averaged just 12 minutes per game in January. The 6’11, 240 lb forward could certainly benefit with a fresh start. With injuries on the Wizards front court, perhaps Washington would be a good destination.
Malik Monk, Shooting Guard, Hornets
The Hornets have an emerging star at point guard in Devonte Graham and a pricey free-agent signing in Terry Rozier filling out the backcourt. They also have a young back-up guard in Dwayne Bacon that has shown flashes. This leaves former first-rounder Malik Monk as the odd-man out. Monk has seen his playing time dwindle in recent weeks, and found himself at the center of many trade rumors. Monk is shooting a career best 43-percent from the field on 7.6 field goal attempts per game. However, he is shooting just 25-percent from three-point range.
Monk is in his third year in the NBA and his time in Charlotte appears to be nearing an end. The Wizards may not have the backup shooting guard of the future on its current roster. They could provide Monk with a second chance for the remainder of the year. This option is not likely, but if the price is low enough Tommy Sheppard could try to make a deal. His teammate, Dwayne Bacon, could also be a possible buy-low option.
Dennis Smith Jr., Point Guard, Knicks
The stardom that many thought Dennis Smith Jr. could reach has not come to fruition. After being shipped off from Dallas to New York, Smith Jr. has not filled the void at point guard that the Knicks desperately need. Smith Jr. played in his first game back from a 13 game layoff due to injury on Wednesday against the Lakers. He played just four minutes and produced a -9 plus/minus in that span. His shooting totals this season have been very low, producing just 5 points per game on 32-percent from the floor. He likely is on the trading block, and for very cheap.
The Wizards, whether they know it or not, have a void at the point guard spot that needs to be filled. The Isaiah Thomas experiment has been an absolute dud. He is one of the worst defenders in the league, and hasn’t even come close to producing the offense to make up for it. This could be a match for both sides, as the minutes could be there for Smith Jr. if the Wizards decide to move on from Thomas. Smith Jr. is also from Fayetteville, North Carolina which is just about an hour from John Wall’s hometown of Raleigh. He could use a mentor like Wall to help right the ship of his career. Many compared their style of play before Smith Jr. headed into the draft out of NC State.
Kris Dunn, Point Guard, Bulls
Like Dennis Smith Jr., Kris Dunn is a point guard whose career hasn’t gone as planned thus far. He is also part of a crowded point guard group that includes this year’s first rounder Coby White and former Wizard Tomas Satoransky. White appears to be the point guard for the Bulls for years to come, leaving Dunn on the outside looking in.
Dunn is a very poor perimeter shooter, shooting 26-percent from distance. But what Dunn does provide is solid defense, something the Wizards are in desperate need of. Replacing Isaiah Thomas with a guy like Dunn would improve the Wizards’ defense immensely. If the price is right, this is someone I could see Tommy Sheppard looking to make a deal for.
Kevin Knox, Small Forward, Knicks
The position the Wizards probably need filled the most would be the small forward position. Troy Brown Jr. seems to be the only true fit at the 3 spot, although some would argue he is best with the ball in his hands at one of the two guard slots. Isaac Bonga has thrived as of late when put in at the power forward position. If Tommy Sheppard wanted to take another flier on a young player, the 3 spot is the most likely position.
Kevin Knox is yet another young Knicks player that could possibly be on the move, depending on the vision of their front office. And who really knows what their front office is ever thinking? The Knicks made a big signing at the small forward position this off-season, giving Marcus Morris a 1-year, 15-million dollar contract.
Morris has arguably been their top player this season. There have been talks that the Knicks could be interested in keeping him long term. For a franchise that is tired of losing, they may decide to try to keep a veteran that is producing, and give up on the young player that has taken somewhat of a step back in year two. They also used their number three overall pick on RJ Barrett, who plays the 2 guard but can also fit the small forward position as well.
Could They Make Him Available?
It is unlikely, but the Knicks could decide to cut bait on Kevin Knox in an attempt for more draft capital. The signing of Morris and drafting of Barrett has dropped Knox’s minutes down from 28.8 minutes per game last year to just 19.1 per game this season. Knox started 57 games last season as a rookie, and has only gotten the opportunity to start 4 this year.
Understandably, his production has dropped with his minutes, but his shooting percentages have remained nearly identical. He hasn’t taken the strides that many have hoped to see. His field goal percentage is at 37-percent for the year, the same as last season. His three-point percentage has dropped a tiny bit as well. A change of scenery could be all the 20-year-old needs to jump start his career.
Deals Unlikely, But Not Impossible
Before everyone decides to jump into my twitter mentions about some of these players listed, I don’t expect Tommy Sheppard to make too much of a splash at the trade deadline this year. This season was labeled as a developmental year from the start by ownership, management and the coaching staff. I think it’s more likely the Wizards look to deal someone like Ian Mahinmi, who is on an expiring contract, for something like a second round pick. But if the right opportunity for a young player presents itself, Sheppard proved this off-season that he is willing to strike. Now the countdown begins until February 6.