Deadline Decision: Wizards Ready to Clean House?
We’re just a day and some change away from Thursday’s 3:00 pm ET NBA trade deadline and the Washington Wizards are believed to be trying to make some significant changes to the roster.
“I think everybody’s worried about it,” Wizards starting point guard John Wall said of the looming deadline. “Certain guys don’t know what’s going to happen… You don’t want to see people go but sometimes that might be the best situation for yourself, your organization and it might be the best situation for those guys [being traded].“
The Washington Post’s Michael Lee reported recently (via Twitter) that no one on the Wizards roster is untouchable aside from Wall, if the other team is willing to take back Andray Blatche as apart of the deal and (of course) if the deal makes Washington better going forward.
The fact that Washington may be preparing to gut this team and start over around Wall isn’t exactly unexpected. The Wizards, at 9-32, have the second worst record in basketball and have already gone through one head coach this season — firing Flip Saunders after getting out to an NBA-worst 2-15 record.
His replacement (Saunders’ former assistant), interim coach Randy Wittman, hasn’t fared much better and the feeling around the team is that Washington needs to upgrade the supporting cast around Wall before the team can start moving in the right direction.
In terms of Blatche, the biggest reason the 6’11 power forward has been placed on the block is because he’s struggled this season due to a myriad of injuries. After averaging career-highs in both points (16.8) and rebounds (8.3) last season, Blatche’s play has deteriorated to the point where he’s shooting less than 38 percent from the floor and averaging just 8.9 points and 6.4 rebounds per contest.
As a whole, Blatche’s play is just a microcosm of the Wizards season thus far. After showing promise last season, and possessing a roster full of talented players in their mid-to-early 20’s, Washington – like Blatche – has taken a step back this year.
Wizards’ fans haven’t adjusted well to both Blatche’s and the Wizards poor season, but Blatche seems to have taken the brunt of the disappointment. Fans at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. have begun to boo the big man relentlessly during home games.
Whether it’s fair or not (Blatche had improved his scoring, rebounding and assists averages every season before this injury-plagued campaign), Blatche seems to have worn out his welcome in Washington.
“I’m not sure,” Blatche told HOOPSWORLD when asked if he thought he’d be in a Wizards’ uniform come Thursday night. “That’s something I couldn’t even tell you. Nobody in this locker room is sure, so we’re going to see”
Whether or not he gets dealt, Blatche says he’s prepared no matter what happens at the trade deadline.
“[The trade speculation] is not a problem at all,” Blatche told HOOPSWORLD. “I know, as a player, it’s part of the business. I’ve been in the league for seven years. I’ve seen a lot of players come and go through trades so it’s nothing personal, it’s all business. It’s part of the game. If something happens then I’m happy to go to another team or if I get traded wherever, I’ll work hard there…
“It’s a business. That’s not something I’m stressing on or losing sleep over.”
While Blatche is the most likely to go, Wall finds himself as likely the only Washington player guaranteed a spot on the team come Thursday evening. Never one to throw his teammates under the bus, Wall admits this Wizards team has flaws but reiterated that he enjoys playing with this squad.
“I enjoy my team,” Wall said. “Even though we have our nights of not playing together as a team, sometimes [we] don’t play hard but I enjoy playing with these guys…
“I think this is the toughest part for the general manager and the whole organization – the coaches. The toughest part for us is playing through this tough season. We really don’t focus on [trade possibilities] too much.”
Wall is no stranger to how quickly trades can go down close to the deadline. Just last season, Washington traded Kirk Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong to the Atlanta Hawks for Mike Bibby, Jordan Crawford, Mo Evans and a first round pick during the game on deadline day.
“I saw what happened last year when Kirk Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong got traded at halftime of a game, so I know anything can happen at any point and time and that’s the business [side] if it,” Wall said. “It’s something you’ve just got to deal with and move forward and if somebody new comes in or if we stay the same: you’ve just got to keep the chemistry as tough as possible.”
Time will only tell if Washington decides to shake this roster up before the deadline with some team-altering deals that could help to buck the losing trend this franchise has fallen into. Case in point: Washington has had one of the three worst records in the Eastern Conference every year since the 2007-2008 season — the last time this team went to the playoffs.
I’m sure as far as Wizards’ fans are concerned, they’re just tired of all the losing and ready to move forward instead of bracing for yet another year as one of the East’s cellar dwellers.
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