Feb. 6 was one of the craziest days of the NBA season so far — the NBA trade deadline which is the last day teams can make trades for the rest of the season. For the majority of the year, transaction numbers have been low for the NBA. Few trades were made before February and the ones that were didn’t have much of an impact on the league. This chaotic trade deadline saw former Warriors star D’Angelo Russell traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves, Rockets center Clint Capela traded to the Hawks, and Andre Drummond surprisingly traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers. One team that made a good few moves under the radar was the Washington Wizards.
The Wizards made two trades at the deadline, both of which saw key contributors move. The first trade was between the Wizards and the Denver Nuggets where forward Jordan McRae moved to the Nuggets in exchange for point guard Shabazz Napier, who had been traded from Minnesota to the Nuggets the day before. McRae had been an important role player for the Wizards for most of the season, averaging 12.8 ppg on 42% shooting while playing 22 minutes per game. Though he only started four times, McRae was a fan favorite in Washington.
This trade was beneficial for both teams. Denver had just offloaded Malik Beasley and Juancho Hernangomez to the Timberwolves in an earlier trade, which left a hole at the wing position on the bench. McRae will slot into the role that Beasley vacated and help bring some veteran presence in the locker room. McRae also helps the Nuggets because he still has another year left on his contract, meaning the Nugs have control over him for that time. For a title contender like the Nuggets, having key players under contract for multiple years is crucial.
On the Wizards’ side, Napier gives them another scorer on the team with the ability to replace Isaiah Thomas, who was a part of another trade on the deadline. Napier has averaged ten ppg on 40% shooting for Minnesota this year. His real value comes from his contract expiring after this year. That allows the Wizards to have more spending money in the offseason. McRae would have cost the franchise another $2 million in the offseason. Though Napier isn’t the most talented replacement, he gives the team more flexibility for the future — exactly what they need.
The second trade was between the Wizards, Clippers, and Knicks where Marcus Morris moved to the Clippers. The Wizards sent Isaiah Thomas and Euro player Yusuf Sanon to the Clippers for Jerome Robinson. Thomas was immediately released by the Clippers after the trade. This was a decent move for the Wizards. They picked up Thomas in the off season and were able to flip him for a young player in Robinson, who has had very little impact on the Clippers. But he is still only 22 and was a lottery pick back in 2018, so (finish this sentence). Robinson still has some upside to his game and has the possibility to become a key bench player for the Wizards.