Wizards excited to have Kristaps Porzingis on board


WASHINGTON -- The Wizards made three separate trades in the final hour leading up to the deadline on Thursday, shipping four players out and bringing three in. The headliner was Kristaps Porzingis, a former All-Star and star of the Knicks and most recently the Mavs.

They also got Ish Smith, bringing him back after he left in free agency over the summer, plus second-year big man Vernon Carey Jr. All three should bring something to the table as the Wizards shift gears after a roster overhaul.

Porzingis, 26, comes over with career averages of 18.7 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. He should slide right in as their starting center and bring versatility on offense and shot-blocking on the defensive end.

"His skill set is unique. His ability to stretch the defense, play off the bounce, his length and size," head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. "I think he gives you another rim protector. But he’s going to be a nightmare for traditional bigs, he’s been that for his whole career."

While Unseld Jr. mentioned Porzingis' defense, much of the talk after the Wizards beat the Nets on Thursday night was about his ability to score. At 7-foot-3, Porzingis is a unique player, able to make plays off the dribble and stretch the floor. Last season, he shot 37.6% from three on 6.0 attempts per game.

The Wizards make the fewest threes of any team in the league this season, so that should help. 


"A lot of the times in the past, playing him, they usually put [fours] on him and good luck guarding us if I’ve got fives on me. I think it’s phenomenal, I think it’s great," Kyle Kuzma said.

Kuzma said he got Porzingis' phone number from a friend and called him on Thursday. He sensed Porzingis is excited for the opportunity.

Porzingis will likely start alongside Kuzma in the Wizards' frontcourt. They will give the Wizards two bigs who can shoot and create off the dribble.

The bigger question, though, may be how Porzingis would play with Bradley Beal, if the Wizards can bring him back next season. Beal can opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent, but the Wizards hope to re-sign him to a long-term deal.

Unseld Jr. would love to see those to on the floor together and even alluded to his time coaching Jamal Murray and MVP Nikola Jokic in Denver for a style comparison

"I think the two of those guys playing a two-man game is going to be a nightmare. Both guys can shoot with range, both guys can play off the bounce. Both guys can handle it in certain situations. It’s a very unique pairing. I’m not going to compare it to two guys I used to work with, but it’s pretty close," Unseld Jr. said.

Porzingis is expected to join the Wizards in Washington on Friday for a physical. They will then have a better idea of when he can make his debut, as he has missed the Mavs' last five games with a right knee bone bruise. 

Soon, the Wizards hope to get him out on the floor and move forward with him as a core building block.