The Washington Wizards have flipped their roster this offseason, to the point where they are one or two moves away from what could be considered a significant rebuild. Those two moves would be trading Bradley Beal and John Wall.
The team has no plans to do the former and probably can't do the latter due to Wall's injury and contract. But the point at which they arrived has sparked some debate about whether the Wizards should go all in and blow it up completely.
Count ESPN's Mark Jackson among those who believes the Wizards should not completely tank. The NBA Finals broadaster and longtime star point guard thinks there is a model to follow that equals a reset but also keeps Beal, in particular, in the mix.
"The Clippers," Jackson said. "They didn't tear it down, but competed until the point where they added pieces to where it gave them a real chance. I think that's the avenue to take."
The Clippers have dominated headlines recently after signing Kawhi Leonard and trading for Paul George, a pair of moves that have installed them as title contenders. But Jackson was speaking more about the steps they took the previous year. They traded off many of their pieces, but did not fully rebuild. And they did it all while keeping their veteran head coach.
"They didn't sell all the way out. They were relevant and competed and they gained valuable experience as they got to the point where they are a championship contender," Jackson said.
"You lose Blake Griffin, you lose DeAndre Jordan and you lose Chris Paul; everybody says that's a teardown, but they defended, they competed at a high level and they were pros. They were high character guys. Good things happened until now where they have a real chance to win it all."
The Clippers took a step back when they traded Paul before the 2017-18 season, but not a major step back. They went from 51 to 42 wins. After trading Griffin and letting Jordan go in free agency, they took a step forward and improved to 48 wins this past season.
L.A. maintained a winning culture while shifting gears. It is worth noting the two biggest winners in 2019 free agency - them and the Brooklyn Nets - were not tanking teams starting from scratch.
There are plenty of differences between where the Wizards are now and where the Clippers were when they began their reset, of course. L.A. had more talent to deal from and got more back in some of the trades they made.
They got a lot for Griffin and then Tobias Harris when they traded him to the Sixers. The Wizards have little to show for the deals they made involving Otto Porter Jr., Kelly Oubre Jr. and Markieff Morris. There is also the obstacle of Wall's injury and contract, which complicates things further.
But, as Jackson notes, the Wizards are on a different playing field. They don't have to compete in the gauntlet that is the Western Conference.
"The fortunate thing for them is that they're in the Eastern Conference. They have a home run hitter in Bradley Beal who is finally getting the recognition he deserves," he said.
"Ultimately, it's about getting John back healthy and allowing these young players to grown and develop and continue to add pieces that can play a role. I think the future is bright for them."
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