Without John Wall, the Wizards weren't expected to do anything this season but develop their young players and secure a good draft pick. As we approach the 2020 trade deadline, the Wizards sit 3.5 games behind the Magic for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference and are 7-7 over the last month despite incredibly bad injury luck.
Bradley Beal, on many occasions, has stated his desire to get to the playoffs this season. And while some may think the best course of action for this franchise is to lean hard into a rebuild, the front office might have other ideas.
According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, the Wizards are, "quietly trying to buy" at this year's trade deadline and could target Cavaliers center, Tristan Thompson.
"I heard that [the Wizards] are quietly trying to buy," Windhorst said on the Lowe Post Podcast. "One of the guys that I think is out there who Washington would have some interest in is Tristan Thompson."
Windhorst mentioned Beal's "grumbles" a few weeks ago after the Wizards' tough loss to the Bulls, and he called out the team's culture. Beal signed an extension this summer, but he's still set to hit free agency in 2022 and could request a trade at any moment once this season ends. He is not eligible to be traded this year.
Thompson is in the last year of his contract with the Cavaliers, making $18.5 million in salary. Since they do not have cap space, the Wizards would have to send approximately $13.9 million in salary to Cleveland at the very least to make a deal.
Ian Mahinmi and a first round pick would be a legal deal under the current CBA, while a trade centered around Thomas Bryant would have to include two or three more players.
Thompson is one of the most versatile defensive centers in the NBA and perhaps its most prolific offensive rebounder. He doesn't exactly stretch the floor on offense, but his strengths on that end of the floor are rolling to the basket and finishing through contact.
The fit alongside players like Wall and Beal, who both need to play with the ball in their hands to be the most effective versions of themselves, would be seamless.
If the Wizards acquire Thompson before Thursday's deadline, they would retain his Bird rights and have an advantage in re-signing him next season. A similar situation exists with Davis Bertans, who is also in the last year of his contract.
In this scenario, the Wizards would go into next season with Wall, Beal, Thompson, Bertans and Rui Hachimura as it's presumed core. Washington would likely go into the luxury tax if they retained both Bertans and Thompson in free agency, yet that core doesn't exactly scream contender.
Is Thompson worth giving up future assets to capitalize on Beal and Wall's window? Is it worth paying the luxury tax? These are questions Tommy Sheppard and his staff will have to answer before Thursday at 3:30 p.m ET.
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