There are some minutes north of 24 hours to the end of the NBA trade deadline meaning there is enough time for the heading to be mooted. However, as many Washington Wizards and Boston Celtics fans would wish for that to be true, signs thus far point to the opposite direction. Neither side has made any moves to suggest a roster tinkering is on the books ahead of the playoffs.
Prior to December, Washington didn’t figure to be in the running for a playoff spot due to an underwhelming start under new Coach Scott Brooks. But a string of good performances have turned around Wizards season to place it third in the Eastern Conference standings behind reigning Champions Cleveland Cavaliers and second placed Boston Celtics.
As good as both teams have been, neither side lacks what it takes to beat Cleveland in the postseason and that is why being a major player in a trade period like this is viewed as an essential issue to be addressed. None of that has happened since both clubs have stood pat while a side struggling to make the playoffs, the New Orleans Pelicans, have made the steal of the year by grabbing DeMarcus Cousins with Omri Casspi from Sacramento Kings in exchange for Buddy Hield, Langston Galloway, Tyreke Evans and future draft picks.
The Celtics have a super deep well of draft picks and valuable second tier players that can be used as trade baits to grab a star like Cousins who can easily be the series changer Boston needs to get past LeBron James and Co in Cleveland. Knowing how temperamental and how ball demanding Cousins is, his fit alongside Al Horford, Isaiah Thomas and the locker room, would have been a wrong fit against the backdrop of Manager Danny Ainge’s vision of winning with a locker room that has the right attitude.
Washington does not have a glut of draft picks like Boston but it does have Ian Mahinmi sitting on a massive $64 million, four year contract signed in the offseason and could have contacted Sacramento and New Orleans in a three team trade. That situation would have meant Washington getting Cousins to play alongside his College teammate John Wall with the Kings getting the Buddy Hield led package and Omer Asik or Alexis Ajinca and Pelicans getting Mahinmi to pair with Anthony Davis in its front court. Missing out on guys like Cousins and Ibaka isn’t the end of the world for Washington and Boston who need shooting badly particularly from the bench for their upcoming postseason exertions. That is where Lou Williams (18.6 points per game) trade from Los Angeles Lakers to Houston Rockets is sure tohaunt both teams. Williams contract is valued at $7million for this season and next season and his value as a top bench scorer wouldn’t cost either Boston or Washington a lot. And it didn’t cost a lot since Los Angeles got Corey Brewer and a 2017 first round pick in return.
Boston needs a consistent scorer beside Thomas and with his defensive liabilities; Williams would have been perfect for Celtics defense-first second unit. One of Washington’s major weakness at the start of its bad start was and is still is its weak bench. At the ninth game of the season, Washington’s bench had a minus 11.2 net rating which at the time was the fourth worst in the league behind Orlando Magic, New York Knicks and Philadelphia Sixers. Williams would have slotted easily in that unit and instantly become a key cog. For Houston, the side keeps on doubling down on an already three point heavy, defensive liable roster by signing Williams. This gives James Harden more options on kick out options to knock down three point shots.
Washington has little room to absorb Carmelo Anthony’s $10 million kicker in his no trade clause contract but Boston has ample salary room to take in Anthony’s contract and an improved deal for Thomas next season. The New York Knicks Forward’s scoring skills rank among the top five spots in the league and there is a ready need to be filled in Tom Brady town as quickly as possible. However, Anthony is a penchant ball hog who pounds the ball way too long stalling any kind of team play most of the time. It is one of the many reasons Phil Jackson has clashed with him and reportedly made him available via a trade. It can easily be a problem for the Celtics knowing Isaiah Thomas has the ball in his hands a lot.
However, in last season’s playoffs, Atlanta Hawks suffocated Thomas knowing full well, the team is virtually scoreless with the pint sized Guard held in check. That could be the gateway to success for the side as Carmelo can easily morph into a quality kick out option on Thomas’s drives. Should Thomas have an off night, Anthony can pick up the slack with his endearing skill set.
Boston and Washington are losing out on landing an x factor in this window and could end up losers months down the line this year.
By Yaw Adjei-Mintah
@ YawMintYM onTwitter