There is certainly a lot to like about the trade the Wizards made on Thursday to acquire Kristaps Porzingis, a productive player when healthy, plus a second-round pick for two guys, Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans, who had become bad fits both on the court and in the salary cap.
Time will tell whether it made the Wizards significantly better, but team president Tommy Sheppard sees that singular move as evidence of something in the bigger picture about Washington's approach to building the roster.
"I can’t say this enough: you can’t be afraid to take big swings when you get an opportunity in the summer with free agency, when you get an opportunity with trades and especially at the trade deadline," Sheppard said. "Some things present themselves to you. Jerry West told me when I got this job ‘don’t ever be afraid to take a big swing.’ There’s only going to be so many opportunities to get talent and to get talent, you have to give up talent."
Porzingis, 26, is better than both Dinwiddie and Bertans, hence why they had to be combined in a trade for him. But he also, as Sheppard acknowledged, has an injury history and that was likely a determining factor in why the Dallas Mavericks were willing to ship him out.
Porzingis played in 34 of 55 possible games for the Mavs this season, recently missing five games due to a bone bruise in his right knee. Over the past three seasons since he returned from a torn ACL, Porzingis was available in just 67.3% of Dallas' games.
When he's available, Porzingis is a good and well-rounded player. He is averaging 19.2 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game and he usually shoots fairly well from three. Last year, he knocked down 37.6% from long range on 6.0 attempts per game.
"I think if you study the league, defensive presence is a big thing, rim-protection is a very big thing, spacing the floor is a big thing and shooting threes is a big thing. He captures all those things in one," Sheppard said.
Porzingis offers unique attributes at 7-foot-3 with the ability to shoot and make plays off the dribble. The Wizards needed outside shooting and also rim-protection, which he could help provide.
The Wizards hope to bring Bradley Beal back next season, as the three-time All-Star can opt out of his contract either to re-sign with Washington or leave in free agency. Sheppard believes adding Beal and Porzingis together will get the team closer to contention.
They also still have Kyle Kuzma and a collection of young players including recent first round picks Rui Hachimura, Deni Avdija and Corey Kispert. Sheppard said he was happy to keep those guys and believes their development the rest of the season will be important.
Sheppard mentioned this upcoming offseason in response to several questions during a wide-ranging, 40-plus minute press conference Friday morning. He said they need a point guard, in particular. And generally, he made it clear Washington hopes to make more trades like the one it did to acquire Porzingis going forward.
"I think we’ve shown a willingness to be very aggressive, we’ve shown a willingness not to sit still," Sheppard said. "We’re going to continue pushing to make this team the very best it can."