Wizards

After trading Westbrook, what's next for the Wizards?

Wizards

Thursday was a wild one for the Wizards, who began by trading Russell Westbrook to the Lakers in a blockbuster deal and later made another trade with the Pacers, leaving them with six new players in total if you include their draft picks.

Westbrook leaving shifts the direction of the franchise considerably, as they now have a hole at point guard but no supermax contract on their payroll. It has also left the Wizards with a roster that appears to be in transition and could be in line for more big changes when free agency opens on Aug. 2.

Here is how their roster currently projects on paper...

Guards: Bradley Beal, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Aaron Holiday, Cassius Winston*, Garrison Mathews*

Wings: Kyle Kuzma, Rui Hachimura, Deni Avdija, Davis Bertans, Corey Kispert, Chandler Hutchison, Caleb Homesley

Bigs: Daniel Gafford, Thomas Bryant, Montrezl Harrell, Anthony Gill, Isaiah Todd

*two-way players*

That is certainly an interesting group. The Wizards added shooting and have the potential to be a good defensive team. But they also may have lowered their ceiling, at least temporarily, by going from two star players to one with Beal.

Surely, more will change once free agency comes, but right now this group warrants a few questions. Who will start at point guard? Who is their second-best player? Are they good enough to contend in the East? Actually, wait, are they good enough to make the playoffs?

The Wizards created financial flexibility with their two trades by freeing up some cap room for next summer. They now have more flexibility to swing other trades, either to build the team up or enter into a rebuild.

 

Though the safe bet is on the former, the roster now looks like one Beal trade away from turning it over to the young guys. But it could also be a few moves away from being deeper and more balanced than the Wizards have been used to in recent years.

From a positional perspective, point guard appears to be the Wizards' biggest need and they are likely going to be in the market for two of them. Last season, they had Westbrook, Raul Neto and Ish Smith. Now, they have Holiday and Winston, though Winston is not seen as ready for one of those three roles, NBC Sports Washington was told. That has a lot to do with Winston not playing many minutes as a rookie thanks to the coronavirus disrupting the G-League season.

When it comes to finding a starting point guard, the Wizards have an opportunity to start from scratch. Ever since 2010, when they drafted John Wall, they have had a high-usage, ball-dominant point guard. That continued last season with Westbrook. Maybe they can build a new offensive identity under head coach Wes Unseld Jr. with more ball movement and more versatile roles.

They also have a smaller question in the middle with Bryant not likely to be ready to start the season as he recovers from a partially torn ACL. The Wizards have indicated some interest in retaining Alex Len, according to someone familiar with their plans, but that was before they traded for Harrell. Given Gafford also struggles with foul trouble, perhaps a low-cost signing of some sort would make sense as a stopgap for Bryant.

The Wizards seem to be pretty set at wing now after entering the offseason with that as their biggest positional need. They have depth, if not high-end talent at both the three and the four. Certainly, upgrades could be made, but it's not a bad group with Hachimura and Avdija presenting considerable upside, Kuzma eyeing a fresh start and Kispert coming in as a first round pick. There is also Davis Bertans, who will be angling for a bounceback year.

So, what are the Wizards? The better question may be what they plan to be. Clearly, there is some plan, but the roster they have now may represent one of the middle steps.