The Washington Wizards are a team in flux, playing at the level of a legitimate postseason team in recent weeks despite having absolutely no chance of reaching the playoffs, which makes the trade deadline an unusually difficult situation to deal with. Most teams can see themselves as buyers or sellers, either focusing on today or tomorrow.
But with the Wizards, that focus isn't exactly clear. Holding one of the worst records in the league, you'd expect the Wizards to be selling off players and trying to acquire young assets, but instead, they've been tied to big names like Josh Smith and, before he was traded, Rudy Gay.
The Wizards' outlook
To be fair, if you can accurately describe the Wizards' outlook, you're probably quite the wordsmith. Few teams in the league have a murkier future than this one, which has evolved from arguably the biggest punching bag in the league to one of its most difficult opponents over the course of just a few weeks.
Now, of course, much of that recent success can be tied to the return of quasi-franchise player John Wall, who instantly changed the atmosphere around the team from the moment he stepped onto the court in January. Though his personal numbers haven't been great, the effect that he's had on his teammates is obvious.
Is Wall a true franchise player? Based on the definition provided by the likes of LeBron James and Kevin Durant, the easy answer is no, as SB Nation's Wizards blog, Bullets Forever, writes. But Wall is still a player worth building around in this league, particularly for a franchise that's lost a good deal of fan support in recent years.
With a roster centered around Wall, Nene, Bradley Beal and Emeka Okafor, the Wizards have actually been quite successful of late. The defense in particular has been an impressive, a testament to the fact that Randy Wittman still has these players buying in even after a truly miserable start to the season.
At this point, one imagines that the Wizards are shooting mostly to win next season, with the remaining months of this season providing a jumping point for that success in the near future. Does that involve shaking things up a little in the next day or two? We'll see.
Jordan Crawford, most obvious of trade chips
Rarely does a team looking to improve consider trading away its second-best scorer, but it's not often that such a player finds himself in the coach's doghouse for weeks at a time. Alas, this is the saga of Wizards guard Jordan Crawford that folks around D.C. are so familiar with.
Despite being an electrifying scorer at times, capable of repeatedly making those shots you wish he'd simply never take, Crawford's play had become something of an issue in recent weeks as Wittman tried to instill an intense defensive attitude into his team.
Never a particularly good or energetic defender throughout his career, Crawford seemed like an easy place for Wittman to make his point, that effort on defense and well-rounded play are more important than the ability to score in one-on-one situations. As a result, he's lost playing time to former D-Leaguer Garrett Temple.
If the Wizards' plan was always to trade Crawford, his reaction to the benching has been less-than-ideal. After Tuesday's game against the Toronto Raptors, just the latest DNP-CD for Crawford, the guard was seen tossing his jersey into the stands after the game.
Factoring in previous reports stating Washington's desire to deal Crawford, Bullets Forever laid things out flatly on Wednesday morning: "The bottom line: no matter which side is initiating the offers, it seems reasonably possible that Crawford has played his final game in D.C."
Making just $1,198,680 this season with a $2,162,419 club option for 2013-14 on his contract, Crawford is one of the few available players this week that can rack up buckets and won't cost a pretty penny.
So, what's to be expected?
Other than a Crawford trade that seems almost inevitable at this point, it's unlikely that the Wizards will make any major moves this week. They were temporarily bandied about as one legitimate suitor for Hawks forward Josh Smith, but interest in that kind of deal has reportedly disappeared.
It'd be nice to see the team poke around for another ballhandler (OKC's Eric Maynor?) or another solid big man (Houston's Patrick Patterson?), but it seems like those kinds of additions are more likely to come during the summer.