The pair of trades the Wizards made on Wednesday night left them in better shape financially, as they got under the luxury tax and freed up potential cap room this offseason. However, they gave up two good players in Otto Porter Jr. and Markieff Morris, and Porter in particular had been their second-best player for much of this season.
How much they have left after those deals is now a real question. Surely, they would still like to make the playoffs this year, but can they?
Friday night will be our first glimpse at the new-look Wizards now that their three trade deadline additions are in the fold. They brought in Bobby Portis, Jabari Parker and Wesley Johnson, three guys who may or may not be in town beyond this season.
The Wizards are expected to trot them all out for the first time on Friday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The game tips off at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.
As the Wizards move forward, the first question is who starts in Porter’s place. The safe money is on Jeff Green, who is already in house and enjoying a strong season. He was the starter until just recently when Porter was put back into the lineup.
Whether any of the new players start or not, they are all likely to play a good deal of minutes. Johnson may be the only exception, though he has a few things working in his favor.
There could be an opportunity for minutes as Bradley Beal’s backup at the shooting guard position. Johnson is also shooting 38 percent from three this season. And, the Wizards have financial incentive to play him.
With two-way guard Jordan McRae’s 45-day clock about 70 percent through, they could use Johnson to bide time until March 23, when the G-League season ends, to avoid guaranteeing his contract.
Portis and Parker are clearly going to play plenty. They are expected to be key cogs in the rotation in the Wizards’ frontcourt.
It will be interesting to see what that means for Sam Dekker. Brooks has relied on Dekker consistently since he was acquired in December, but that was mostly with either Porter or Morris injured. Now they have some depth at forward and Brooks will need to sort it out.
Portis and Bryant could also be a combination to watch. They have some similarities in their games and it wouldn’t be surprising if Brooks avoided playing them at the same time. It’s conceivable the two could split time at center and both be left out when Brooks opts to go small.
With Porter gone, the Wizards are going to need his scoring output replaced. Though Porter was never a high-volume scorer, he had been their second scoring option behind Beal in the wake of John Wall’s injury.
Parker seems poised to fill that void. Scoring has long been his best asset. Though he’s not nearly as efficient as Porter, Parker can probably give the Wizards 14-plus points per game. This year he averaged 14.3 points for the Bulls on 11.9 shots.
One area the Wizards could see an instant boost in is rebounding. Both Parker (6.2 rpg) and Portis (7.3 rpg) can help on the glass. Portis, in particular, could prove an upgrade over his predecessor, Morris.
It may take some time for the Wizards to find out what they have in their three new players and what their ceiling is now as a team. That process begins on Friday night.
Watch Wizards Gameday Live at 12 p.m. on the MyTeams app to get ready for Wizards-Cavs.
MORE WIZARDS NEWS:
- Wizards Talk: Ernie Grunfeld talks Porter trade, gives update on Howard
- Reality TV: The trade deadline provided all of the drama
- Sudden Change: Grunfeld confirms Wall's injury changed their plans