For most of the 2021-22 season, the Wizards operated under the hope that, eventually, they’d get their full roster available.
And recently, that wish has come true.
Rui Hachimura returned to the floor. All of the players on the COVID list returned healthy. Thomas Bryant recently returned from a year-long layoff after ACL surgery. And their depth shined, particularly against the 76ers in a win Monday.
But after a 119-118 loss to the Nets on Wednesday at Capital One Arena, there are just eight games before the trade deadline on Feb. 10 at 3 p.m. So while the good feelings about everyone’s return to the roster were, and are, valid, time is now starting to work against the 23-22 Wizards.
“Kind of like what I’ve been saying all year — you can wait, but you eventually run out of games,” Bradley Beal said. “We’re at the deadline now, you either make a move or you roll with what you have. It’s tough because we have a lot of guys who are playing, we’re switching up our lineups and we all know in one way or another what that kind of looks like and means for a lot of teams.”
The Wizards played 11 players in the loss to the Nets, all of which (except Davis Bertans) played more than 10 minutes — Aaron Holiday, Anthony Gill, Raul Neto and Isaiah Todd did not play. Meaning, the Wizards are showcasing a lot of what they’ve got to offer other teams before the deadline.
Should general manager Tommy Sheppard want to deal some of the youth (of which there’s a handful of nice pieces) and deal from a position of depth, the Wizards will certainly have the ammo to do so. The Wizards have already indicated that key players in the rotation might sit for the majority of a game due to the amount of depth the team has, as Deni Avdija didn’t play until the final moments of Monday’s win over the 76ers.
“That’s where the professionalism kicks in in our jobs,” Beal said. “We realize some guys are going to play, some guys aren’t, a lot of names, guys names are going to come up in rumors and being on the block. ‘Washington is putting such and such out.’ That’s going to happen. Whether it’s true or not, you have no control over that unless your agent calls you and tells you what’s going on. All you can do is control what you can do every day coming to work.”
Washington currently sits, after the loss to Brooklyn, in eighth place in the conference and just one game in the play-in tournament. The four teams in the play-in tournament as of now (Charlotte, Washington, Boston and Toronto) are separated by just 2.5 games.
So whatever the Wizards do, if it’s anything at all, time is becoming of the essence.
“It is imperative to note that it is a few weeks away,” Beal said. “If we do make a move, we’ve got to get on the ball, get that guy in, get whoever it is in and get acclimated and get guys going. It’s tough. It’s always one of the toughest parts of the year, team-wise, individual-wise. You see the rumors every day, so it’s tough. You stay professional and you continue to come to work every day and continue what you can control.”