Wizards ‘refuse to tank,’ unlikely to trade core players

Nov 18, 2018; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) dribbles the ball around Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic (27) during the second quarter at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Despite existing in a mediocre Eastern Conference that will likely see a losing team or two make the playoffs, the Washington Wizards are nowhere near contenders.

Washington heads into Sunday’s action with a 19-26 record and without star guard John Wall for the long haul.

One might think that the team would look to move veteran assets as a way to start a rebuild. Even with the status quo proving Washington to be irrelevant on the broader NBA stage, owner Ted Leonsis is not about to tank.

“We will never, ever tank,” Leonsis insisted late last week. Tanking enables a team to acquire a higher first-round draft pick. For the Wizards, that could help them expedite a rebuild. Obviously, this doesn’t appear to be in the cards.

“What Leonsis said, however, should change how any rumors are viewed,” Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington reported on Sunday. “He expressed firmly what team officials have been indicating for weeks, that if they are active at the trade deadline, it won’t be with deals involving their main guys.”

This means that the likes of John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr. are likely off the table in trade talks.

That’s a change of tune from previous reports suggesting that the Wizards would look to move on from their core group.