Trade Deadline Intel: Wizards Among NBA's Most Active Shoppers, Eyeing Sabonis


Jake Fischer@JakeLFischerContributor IFebruary 2, 2022
Trade Deadline Intel: Wizards Among NBA's Most Active Shoppers, Eyeing Sabonis
Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

Just a week out from the Feb. 10 trade deadline, the Washington Wizards are being described by league personnel as one of the more active teams on the NBA trade market. As the Wizards have discussed adding key reinforcements such as Jerami Grant, Indiana Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis has also emerged as another significant trade target, sources told B/R. 

After a 10-3 start—and general manager Tommy Sheppard's notable contract extension—Washington has since fallen to 23-27, 12th in the Eastern Conference and outside the Play-In tournament tier altogether. That's an ominous skid only months before Bradley Beal can test free agency this offseason.  

Despite Beal's past flirtations with leaving the Wizards, the All-Star guard has by all accounts signaled plans to re-sign in Washington this summer. The Wizards can offer Beal a five-year, $242 million extension, that's one year and roughly $60 million more than any rival can present. 

The Wizards have similarly given no indications they'll entertain a Beal trade this month. Rather, fortifying a perennial postseason contender with a new co-star like Sabonis would certainly help solidify Beal's standing in D.C. Executives near and far are bracing against a perceivably developing trend, where stars like Ben Simmons request a trade shortly after signing a lucrative hometown extension. 

Word has since trickled around the league that Beal would welcome playing with Sabonis, although one source with knowledge of the situation maintained Beal has not actively encouraged the Wizards to acquire him. League personnel say the Pacers are seeking a package similar to or greater than the haul Nikola Vucevic drew for the Orlando Magic last season. Only Sacramento, New Orleans and Washington have been linked by league personnel as Sabonis suitors with significant interest. 

For the Wizards to offer something on par with Vucevic's haul, Washington would likely have to part with at least two of Rui Hachimura, Deni Avdija and Corey Kispert, with additional salary of either Thomas Bryant or Montrezl Harrell, plus further draft capital. And that still might not reach Indiana's high asking price.  

The Wizards recently made outgoing calls assessing Harrell's trade value, while Bryant has played in their last nine games—starting twice—after not seeing action all season. Rival teams believe Washington is showcasing Bryant ahead of the deadline. 

Trade Deadline Intel: Wizards Among NBA's Most Active Shoppers, Eyeing Sabonis
Nick Wass/Associated Press

The Pacers front office was high on Hachimura ahead of the 2019 draft, sources said, while Indiana was also considering Gonzaga's Kispert at No. 13 before selecting Chris Duarte, which allowed the Wizards to draft Kispert two picks later. 

Sabonis, of course, is a former Bulldog himself, and Sheppard is said to hold a strong relationship with Gonzaga head coach Mark Few. That would be supported by the draft selections of Hachimura and Kispert, plus the Wizards rostering undrafted Gonzaga guard Joel Ayayi on a two-way deal. 

Elsewhere in Washington, the Wizards have made Spencer Dinwiddie available for trade. It is difficult to imagine a wide market just a few months after the combo guard signed a three-year, $54 million contract. Team personnel across the league have noted Dinwiddie's decline in production as he's returned from a torn ACL that cost him all but three games in the 2020-21 season. "He needs the ball, he's not good enough to have the ball, and he's not a good shooter," one Western Conference executive told B/R. Even with a career-high 37.6 percent mark in 2016-17, Dinwiddie has converted just 31.8 percent of his long-range attempts in eight seasons. 

Other notes from around the league: 

  • Harrison Barnes had been mentioned as a primary target for Utah. But Joe Ingles' unfortunate ACL injury has now further limited the Utah Jazz's flexibility for defensive improvements on the wing. With Ingles out for the remainder of the season, he can solely function as an expiring contract. 

  • The Cavaliers have a similar offer to make with Ricky Rubio's deal, and Cleveland has far greater draft capital to go out and acquire a perimeter difference-maker. While the Cavs have placed calls on wing reinforcements such as Eric Gordon and Caris LeVert, both the Rockets' and Pacers' asking prices have been described as too high for Cleveland. The Cavaliers seem to prefer sending two second-round picks to acquire either player, but the Rockets believe they can get a first-rounder for Gordon, and the Pacers are seeking more than a first-round pick for LeVert.

  • While the Raptors continue discussing Goran Dragic trade scenarios, Toronto has phoned rival teams gauging what Dragic and a first-round pick could bring back north of the border, sources told B/R. That framework was brought up in Myles Turner negotiations before he suffered a stress reaction in his foot. As the Raptors are searching for frontcourt help, Robert Williams has also been mentioned of late as a name on Toronto's list of big-man targets. 

  • Among Portland's trade candidates, Robert Covington has recently been described as the most likely Trail Blazer dealt before Feb. 10. While momentum has seemed to stall on any Jusuf Nurkic trade, Ben McLemore's name has emerged in recent conversations, sources said. 

  • Before Patrick Beverley reaches free agency, Minnesota is exploring trade avenues involving its veteran point guard in addition to the Timberwolves' conversations regarding Malik Beasley. Marcus Smart has been mentioned as a recent target for Minnesota who would fill Beverley's integral role in the Wolves' starting lineup. 

  • In other Celtics discussions, Boston continues searching for landing spots for point guard Dennis Schroder and wing Josh Richardson. A framework of Schroder to Chicago for Troy Brown Jr. and a second-round pick has circulated around the league, while the Jazz have been consistently mentioned as a possible destination for Richardson. 

  • The Lakers are searching to find Kent Bazemore a new home after he opened the season as a starter. And while it's believed Paul Millsap would prefer to land in Chicago, having a connection to Bulls lead executive Arturas Karnisovas from their shared Denver days, Los Angeles has been mentioned as a suitor for Millsap should he reach the buyout market. 

  • The Pelicans have become repeatedly linked to Rockets guard Eric Gordon. New Orleans has registered interest in various Trail Blazers, particularly Covington and CJ McCollum. The Pelicans are also said to be revisiting a trade package for Sacramento's Harrison Barnes that was discussed as a potential sign-and-trade for Josh Hart this past offseason. 

  • Phoenix has maintained its efforts to move Dario Saric, and it appears the Suns are searching for an upgrade to their wing rotation. Eric Gordon has been linked by league personnel as a possible target, as he and Chris Paul shared a successful stint in Houston. Of note with Gordon here: The veteran guard's contract becomes fully guaranteed for 2023-24 if his team wins the championship and Gordon reaches a minutes requirement. 

  • New York is looking to free playing time for Cam Reddish in Tom Thibodeau's rotation after acquiring the Duke product from Atlanta for a first-round pick. Each of Nerlens Noel, Evan Fournier, Alec Burks and Kemba Walker are all considered available.

  • While Memphis is not expected to make any significant moves, rival teams may call on former lottery pick Jarrett Culver ahead of the 22-year-old's contract expiration. Culver has shown flashes in 23 games with the Grizzlies this season, and the trade market does not currently boast a laundry list of two-way wings.