Where would the Washington Wizards be if their roster wasn't plagued by injuries? It's fun to dream, but Scottie Pippen thinks they'd be not just the team to beat in the Eastern Conference, but also perhaps the team surviving the conference and rolling into the NBA Finals.
"If Washington was healthy this season, they would be the team coming out of the East," Pippen said Friday on ESPN's The Jump.
But at this point, the revamped Wizards are just trying to make a playoff push.
Ahead of last week's NBA trade deadline, Washington traded Otto Porter Jr. to the Chicago Bulls for Jabari Parker, Bobby Portis and a 2023 second-round NBA Draft pick. They also dealt Markieff Morris and a 2023 second-round pick to the New Orleans Pelicans for Wesley Johnson. The moves help keep the Wizards under the luxury tax and are, in large part, the result of John Wall's ruptured Achilles tendon, which is expected to sideline the team's star for 12 months.
In addition to Wall, Dwight Howard has been out with a back injury, and he might not return to the court for another month. Plus, Jeff Green is day-to-day with a hip injury, and Troy Brown Jr. is expected to be out until later this month with an ankle injury.
The Wizards are three spots out of eighth place in the East and one win behind the Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat and Orlando Magic. They play the Pistons on the road Monday.
Outsiders and analysts continue to try and figure out exactly the Wizards are trying to do with their recent trade deadline moves, but as Pippen explained, everything changed for them with Wall's season-ending Achilles injury.
"I think that they realized that they missed this window of opportunity," Pippen continued on ESPN.
"LeBron James has left the East, and we know that the Wizards always challenged him in terms of playing in the Eastern Conference Finals. But now, I feel like Porter was part of that sort of big three, and now that that window, with Wall getting hurt, has sort of vanished away from them. Now, they have to look two, three years down the road. And I think Porter, with the money he had with that salary cap, wasn’t gonna be that third piece that they need."
Wall is expected to have surgery Tuesday in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and his recovery could take 11 to 15 months — possibly all of next season.
MORE WIZARDS NEWS:
- Playoff Push: Wizards beating Pistons could mean more than just a W
- Back to School: John Wall to finish college while out with Achilles injury
- Newfound Depth: How Wizards' roster changes are shaking things up
- Newest Wizard: Five things to know about Bobby Portis