The Washington Wizards found their point guard of today and for the future on Wednesday, acquiring Monte Morris from the Denver Nuggets in a four-player trade.
Denver picked up the 27-year-old Morris as well as veteran guard Will Barton in exchange for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith. It rounds out the roster some with free agency set to start in the matter of hours.
In no way does this mean front office head Tommy Sheppard and Co. are done for the summer. There’s this whole Bradley Beal free-agent thing that’s going to come to a culmination at some point soon. Meanwhile, we’re hearing rumors of a potential Kyle Kuzma trade from D.C.
Below, we look at three more moves the Washington Wizards should still make this summer as they look to return to the NBA Playoffs for the second time since the end of the 2017-18 season.
Washington Wizards re-sign Bradley Beal
Beal is expected to opt out of his contract and re-sign with the Wizards on what would be a record-setting five-year deal worth $248 million. The hope here is that Washington’s franchise cornerstone doesn’t have a last-second change of heart.
Wednesday’s trade for Morris was done under the guise that Beal will be returning to the nation’s capital. After the Wizards struggled finding a fit at point guard next to Beal with the likes of Russell Westbrook and Spencer Dinwiddie over the past two seasons, they firmly believe Morris changes the dynamics.
- Monte Morris stats (2021-22): 12.6 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 4.4 APG, 48% shooting, 40% 3-point
A second-round pick back in 2017, Morris played well for an injured Jamal Murray in Denver last season. He looks every bit the part of a starting point guard moving forward. Perhaps, the Wizards were in touch with Beal when they made the decision to trade for Morris.
Washington Wizards trade Kyle Kuzma for a traditional wing
It’s not yet known whether former lottery picks Deni Avdija and Corey Kispert can grow into starting roles. Neither really performed at that level last season. It would also be foolhardy for the Wizards to believe that 2022 lottery pick Johnny Davis can start immediately after they made the surprising decision to select him last week.
With all of that said, there’s somewhat of an excess at power forward in D.C. Kuzma saw significant time and finished as the Wizards’ third-leading scorer last season. Meanwhile, Washington’s brass continues to be high on Rui Hachimura. Of the two, Kuzma would likely bring more back in a potential trade this summer.
- Kyle Kuzma stats (2021-22): 17.1 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 3.5 APG, 45% shooting, 34% 3-point
With a $13 million salary for next season, Kuzma’s contract is seen as team-friendly. That would help any return Washington seeks.
In this hypothetical, we look at the Atlanta Hawks as a trade partner. Said deal would surround Kuzma heading to Atlanta for a package headed by young wing De’Andre Hunter. Atlanta is said to be looking to trade John Collins. It needs another four to replace him. The fit is there with Kumza. As for Washington, this would round out its starting five with Morris, Beal, Hunter, Hachimura and Kristaps Porzingis
Washington Wizards use mid-level exception on rotational big man
Thomas Bryant is set to hit free agency and has played all of 37 games over the past two seasons. We also know all about Porzingis’ injury issues. Washington needs to find some insurance with the projected $11 million non-taxpayer mid-level exception the team boasts.
There’s some good news on this front. Multiple veteran centers are slated to hit the open market. Fits could include Mo Bamba and Nicolas Claxton at that price point. If the Wizards want to break up the mid-level, veterans such as JaVale McGee, Robin Lopez and Andre Drummond could work.