Biggest Issues Washington Wizards Must Address at the 2015 Trade Deadline

Luke PetkacFeatured ColumnistJanuary 23, 2015

The Wizards are still hoping Martell Webster will return to his old form.
The Wizards are still hoping Martell Webster will return to his old form.Ned Dishman/Getty Images

The 2015 NBA trade deadline is still nearly a month away. And yet, there's already been a flurry of trades and near-trades—the result of title hopefuls trying to beef up their rosters.

The Washington Wizards have been quiet on that front, in part because they haven't had much time to evaluate their full roster thanks to a string of early injuries. Still, you can bet they'll be active heading into the deadline. The Atlanta Hawks may be positioned as Eastern Conference favorites, but the playoffs are still anyone's game.

Washington doesn't have any gigantic problems on either end, but it is missing two player archetypes that could really help flesh out its roster—namely, a wing shooter and a stretch 4. Let's take a look at the Wizards' issues and the players they should target to shore up their rotation.

 

Wing Shooter

It's far too early to give up on Martell Webster as he shakes off the rust following his offseason back surgery. But early returns have not been good. Webster is shooting just 12.5 percent from deep and looks a step slow defensively. If he's struggling to this extent when the trade deadline rolls around, then the Wizards might be forced to make a move for another wing.

Washington doesn't need anything special, just a cheap swingman who can hit threes. The Wizards are the third-best three-point shooting team in the league by percentage at 38.2. But they take just 15.8 triples per game, one of the lowest marks in the NBA.

Having another shooter in the rotation would (hopefully) incite Washington to take a few more threes and open up the floor for John Wall and the other Wizards ball-handlers.

Washington might not even have to delve into the trade market to get that wing. According to Basketball Insiders' Alex Kennedy, it's pushing hard to sign Ray Allen.

Allen is still a great shooter (37.5 percent from deep last season) and an extremely efficient scorer as a whole. He could be used as a souped up version of Otto Porter—spotting up, running off of screens and doing a touch of pick-and-roll creating.

Should Allen end up elsewhere, there are a few decent options on the trade market as well.

One interesting possibility is Randy Foye, who was actually with the Wizards for the 2009-10 season. The Nuggets are exploring trade options for Foye, per ESPN's Brian Windhorst. He's not a perfect fit in Washington (which would ideally get a wing with more size), but his shooting would still fit a real need.

Foye is a career 37.6 percent shooter from deep, and his off-the-bounce, pick-and-roll threes would add a little spice to the Wizards' offense. His size isn't ideal, but his ability to play the point could be useful in certain situations.

Andre Miller has been phenomenal on the offensive end this season, but he gets toasted by the league's faster point guards. Foye is no defensive luminary, but he's quicker than Miller. The Wizards could use him situationally at the 1 in certain matchups when Wall needs a breather, giving him a little more value than he would otherwise have.

Another intriguing name is the Philadelphia 76ers' Robert Covington. The 76ers signed Covington straight from the D-League in mid-November, and he's rewarded them by terrorizing NBA defenses from deep. Covington is shooting 39 percent from three on 5.6 attempts per game. He can't do much else on the offensive end, but he's been a sizable plus this year.

According to RealGM's Shams Charania, the 76ers consider Covington a part of their future plans. Charania recently wrote:

A few NBA teams have placed interest in Philadelphia 76ers forward Robert Covington, but the 24-year-old sharpshooter has been made largely unavailable from trade inquiries as a core part of the franchise’s long-term plans, league sources told RealGM.

It's not surprising the 76ers are hesitant to move Covington, but the Wizards should at least check into his availability heading into the deadline.

 

Stretch 4

The Wizards could also look to target a stretch 4 at the deadline.

Washington actually already has a killer stretch 4 in Paul Pierce. But he's logged just five percent of the team's minutes at power forward this season, per 82games.com. At this point, it appears clear the Wizards aren't keen on having him bang with other bigs.

The best available option is the Nuggets' Wilson Chandler, who would be close to a dream acquisition for Washington.

Chandler is a versatile wing who can play the 3 or 4 depending on what the situation calls for. It's worth pointing out his numbers are down this season (he's averaging 13.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per game on 51.5 percent true shooting), but that's partially because he's being asked to do more off-the-dribble creating than he's capable of. He wouldn't have to do that in Washington.

As a Wizard, Chandler would mostly function as a catch-and-shoot threat, an area in which he's historically been very strong. Last season, Chandler shot 37 percent on spot-up threes, and he hit 41 percent from deep in 2012-13. He should have no problem finding open looks next to Wall, perhaps the league's best passer.

His off-the-bounce game could also give the Wizards a boost. He's not a terrific creator, but he's more than capable of it in small doses. He's particularly dangerous at the 4. There aren't a lot of bigs who can stay in front of him, and he's a great finisher at the basket (RIP Tyson Chandler).

Chandler is only a so-so defender at best, but he's never damaging at either position—a rarity for combo 3/4s. Opponents are shooting two percent less than their season average against him, not a bad mark considering the range of positions he's tasked with guarding.

Outside of Chandler, the stretch 4 market is thin, with the two best fallbacks being the Detroit Pistons' Jonas Jerebko or the Miami Heat's Shawne Williams. Neither player offers the kind of versatility Chandler does, but they'd fit well playing a limited role in Washington.

Like Rasual Butler, Williams has come out of relative obscurity to spit fire from three this season.

A career 35 percent shooter, Williams is hitting 42 percent from downtown. That kind of shooting probably isn't sustainable in the long run, but Williams may be worth rolling the dice on regardless. Playing alongside Wall makes things easier for shooters, especially ones who do a lot of damage from the corners.

Jerebko isn't quite the outside shooter Williams is (he's at 36.6 percent on the year), but he offers a little more offensive flexibility. Jerebko is a decent pick-and-roll player and a heady passer who throws out stuff like this occasionally.

Despite being well under .500, both Miami and Detroit are very much a part of the Eastern playoff race and may not want to give up contributors. Still, neither team has any real shot at making noise in the playoffs. If Washington pushes hard enough, it could probably snag one of these guys.

 

Conclusion

The Wizards don't have many needs this season, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see them stand pat at the deadline and roll into the playoffs with their current team. But if they can swing a deal for a cheap shooter or stretch 4, they should pull the trigger.

Once again, the East is open this year. If Washington thinks it has a legitimate shot at the Finals, it's worth making a gamble or two.

 

 

All statistics accurate as of 1/23/2015 and courtesy of Basketball-Reference or NBA.com unless stated otherwise.