There it is, the first domino to fall in what could possibly be a summer of change for the Wizards.
It has not been a secret that the Wizards have been trying to move Gortat for awhile now. His play has been declining and it seems as if his relationship with star Point Guard John Wall is broken beyond repair.
Yesterday, the Wizards were finally able to find a trade partner for Gortat in the Clippers, and were able to get combo guard Austin Rivers in return.
Rivers is coming off his best year in the NBA: per game he averaged 15.1 points, 4.0 assists, and shot 37.8% from beyond the arc.
As a combo guard who can play both the one and the two, he will provide the Wizards with another ball handler off the bench who can knock down the three, and get to the rim. With Tomas Satoranksy, Austin Rivers, and newly drafted Troy Brown Jr. coming off the bench, the Wizards are now much deeper in the backcourt which will give all-stars Bradley Beal and John Wall some much needed relief.
On the down side, this trade did not free up much cap room for the Wizards. Both players are set to be UFA at the end of the 2018-19 season and earn a similar salary. Gortat will make 13.5 million next year, compared to Rivers 12.6. This leaves the Wizards with about 5.3 million in cap plus a veteran minimum contract, and an Albert Haynesworth size hole in the front court to fill.
As currently constructed, the Wizards have three big men on their roster (WARNING: Disturbing Content Ahead) in Markieff Morris, Jason Smith, and Ian Mahinmi. Could see those same names playing pickup at the YMCA, on a Tuesday at 9pm.
I expect the Wizards to test the market for newly free agent center Dwight Howard. Yes, he is pretty much hated by all of his teammates no matter where he goes, but beggars can’t be choosers at this point. Also, a pick and roll combo of Howard and Wall actually sounds pretty enticing.
I also expect the Wizards to look at Nerlens Noel. The Wizards have stressed how important it is to find a young athletic big man and Noel fits the description, and the Wizards may actually be able to afford him.
There’s another name every Wizards fan is thinking right now. Yes, it’s officially Boogie to DC season. How likely is it that the Wizards pull it off? Simply put — not likely. However, a possible sign-and-trade where the Wizards dish Otto and a first rounder to New Orleans, isn’t out of the question.
The Gortat for Rivers swap was a good start for what hopefully should be an eventful summer in your nation’s capital.