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Washington Wizards have 1 piece worth chasing

With Monday’s report that the Washington Wizards are ready to blow the whole thing up after a 5-11 start, there is 1 Wizard the Brooklyn Nets should chase.

The Washington Wizards are reportedly ready to blow up its luxury-tax laden, feuding, underachieving roster, according to a report, and there is one player in that mix that the Brooklyn Nets could benefit from adding,

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported on Monday, citing league sources, that the Wizards are prepared to make every player available in trade talks. That includes their All-Star backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal.

The Wizards are 5-11 and have lost their last two games, including a 115-104 loss to the Nets at home on Friday night.

They’ve been Team Turmoil for most of this season, most recently fining Wall for a profanity-laden barrage at coach Scott Brooks during a practice last week.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that incidents with the Wizards go far beyond just Wall, however.

Brian Lewis of the New York Post wrote that now could be an opportune time to circle back to forward Otto Porter Jr., who received a four-year, $106.5 million offer sheet from the Nets in the summer of 2017 that was matched by Washington.

That deal was not only large, but included some poison pill provisions, as a quarter of Porter’s money each season is due as a lump sum on July 1, right at the beginning of the new league year, and another quarter is due the same way by Oct. 1.

At an average annual value of $26.6 million, those are some large lumps.

The plusses for Porter? He’s was the No. 3 overall pick in 2013 and is still only 25 years old. He has finished fourth and third in the NBA, respectively, in 3-point shooting the last two seasons, hitting 43.4 percent in 2016-17 and 44.1 percent last season.

And at 6-foot-8, he might be a better fit at the problematic stretch 4 spot than any of the Nets’ current options.

The minuses? He’s getting star money and has never even averaged 15 points per game in a season. His production is way off this year — like most of the Wizards — and he’s lost minutes because Brooks believes he’s not been playing hard.

And haven’t the Nets been down this road before? Acquiring the guy you signed to the ginormous offer sheet? Allen Crabbe hasn’t exactly worked out all that well.

Porter’s contract would also eat significantly into the salary cap reserve general manager Sean Marks has accumulated for next summer, without adding a star player to the roster.

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Porter is due $26 million this season, $27.25 million in 2019-20 and has a player option for $28.5 million in 2020-21. That’s before a 15 percent trade kicker — 15 percent of whatever is remaining on the deal at the time of the trade — is figured in.

And at 198 pounds, Porter stands to be bullied by bigger players at the 4 and ostensibly makes the Nets even smaller defensively than they are right now.

Wall would be a star acquisition for the Nets, but while he is in the final year of his rookie deal extension at $19.2 million this season, he has already locked into a supermax extension that begins next season … at four years and $170 million.

Those annual payouts would eat up much of the cap space available for next year — Wall is due $37.8 million next season, $40.8 million in 2020-21, $43.8 million in 2012-22 and has a player option for $46.9 million in 2022-23, when he will be 32.

Wall is a five-time All-Star, was an All-NBA selection in 2016-17 (which qualified him for the supermax provisions in his extension) and was All-Defensive in 2014-15.

That leaves Beal.

He is a star player, having made the All-Star Game last season. After years of dealing with the “injury-prone” label, Beal played in all 82 games in 2017-18 after appearing in 77 the previous year. He’s matured physically enough to handle the grind, most likely.

He’s a 39 percent career shooter from 3-point range, is averaging 21.5 points per game this year in a down year and won’t be 26 until June.

Just the fact he’s a shooting guard — i.e., the same position as franchise cornerstone piece Caris LeVert — isn’t a deal-breaker, either, lest we forget that LeVert was penciled in as the starter at the 3 when the preseason began and only moved to the 2 when Crabbe was injured.

Beal is in the third year of the five-year rookie scale extension he signed in 2016 and is due $25.4 million this season, $27.1 million in 2019-20 and $28.8 million in 2020-21, with no options involved.

The Nets have the expiring contracts to make a trade with Washington for Beal work.

Because the Wizards are over the luxury-tax line, the trade components have to be fairly close in salary this season. We came up with this deal with the ESPN Trade Machine that satisfies all of those provisions:

Wizards Get

Allen Crabbe
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

Crabbe is not an expiring deal, but Hollis-Jefferson is. Crabbe’s inclusion is more of a “see, here’s a replacement for your All-Star shooting guard right here” addition. Hollis-Jefferson is a versatile defender with value, but offensively he’s not a fit in the Brooklyn system.

It’s possible this deal would need a pick added to it for extra incentive.

Either Denver’s top-12 protected 2019 first-rounder or the Nets own first-rounder (considering this deal projects to increase Brooklyn’s win total by five, that pick could conceivably fall out of the lottery) could satisfy those needs.

Draft picks, particularly their own draft picks, should be considered almost off-limits. But to get a young, established star rather than getting a star from the last decade that is fading into the future? I think you pull the trigger.

Beal checks off all the boxes: He’s young, he’s already a star, he’s only got three years remaining on his contract and unlike Porter and Wall, that contract doesn’t come with a trade kicker.

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It’s a deal worth exploring, to be sure.



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