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The Sideline Observer

Sports and Culture Commentary

The Wizards Won at the Deadline, and It’s Not Even Close

Once in a blue moon, Ernie Grunfeld will make a promising move. Just hours before the NBA trade deadline passed on Feb. 7, Grunfeld and company decided to make two key transactions toward the end of the trade window when he sent key pieces Otto Porter and Markieff Morris to Chicago and New Orleans, respectively. What the Wizards sent away is merely an afterthought, and what they got back will hopefully prove genius.

It had become evident that Washington had to enter firesale mode after an abysmal first half of the season with their record sitting at 22-32 and the organization at No. 11 in the Eastern Conference. It had also become clear that the ticking time bomb that was the Otto Porter Jr. experiment had empirically, and unfortunately, run out.

Playing on a bloated salary upwards of 25 million per year, Washington was willing to move on from the former local Hoya who was averaging just 12.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.9 assists.

Washington found their suitor for Porter, the Chicago Bulls. Chicago was willing to give up two prospects by the names of Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis. Parker, a Windy City native, was ultimately benched by Bulls interim Head Coach Jim Boylen in Dec. and is currently playing on a two-year contract paying him a healthy 20 million per year.

The contract includes a team option for the 2019-20 season. Portis, drafted No. 22 overall in 2015 out of Arkansas, is a talented forward who is 23 years young averaging 14.6 points and 7.5 rebounds this season.

Some aren’t so quick to deem this trade a victory for Washington. In short, Otto is a legit 6’7″ player, shooting his highest catch and shoot percentage from three at any point of his career, and he is a valuable stretch forward for any team in today’s NBA.

He may not have been producing at as high a rate as expected, but he can space the floor, rebound, and defend lanky players on any opposing team. Essentially, the Wizards received a player coming off two successful ACL surgeries and a young player who hasn’t solidified himself as a dependable option in his first few seasons in the league.

This isn’t rocket science, sports fans. This was a salary dump which provided both teams (and their former players) with a change of scenery and a fresh start to flourish in new systems and in front of new fans.

The two new acquisitions have made their mark early, with Portis pouring in a team-high 30 points in his debut against Cleveland, while Jabari Parker seems to be getting into the swing of things. While it might be a bummer to see longtime key players leave the District, it was absolutely time for them to go. These trades will represent the new leaf for our Wizards.

-Ben Grebe

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