Going in opposite directions, Wizards and Thunder make for ideal trade partners

The Washington Wizards and Oklahoma City Thunder make for ideal trade partners; they should do business

The Oklahoma City Thunder have the second highest roster payroll this year, and the Washington Wizards have the sixth highest. Next year, they are slated to have the first, and eighth highest, respectively.

The Thunder are in win-now mode, which can justify the luxury tax penalties that accompany such a gigantic payroll, but the FML/IDGAF Wizards truly can’t justify such penalties, and need to unload salary. That’s why they make for ideal trade partners.

Because both teams are deep into the luxury tax (and look to remain there for future years), they will face a steep “repeater tax” in which the franchise owners pay between $2.50 and $4.75 dollars for every dollar over the luxury tax they go. In other words, luxury tax teams that can shed $4-$5M (as both of these hypothetical trades would do for the Wizards) actually save their owners upwards of $20M (per season).

The Wizards are going nowhere fast in the suddenly respectable Eastern Conference, and John Wall‘s impending supermax contract ($168M between 2019-2023) will make it damn near impossible for them to sign any decent free agent.

Like it or not, the Wizards are tethered to Wall, who appears to be a terrible teammate and culture setter. With the Celtics, and probably 76ers, Bucks, and Raptors, poised to dominate the East for the duration of Wall’s contract, Washington need to focus on dumping salary, and moving one or more of their other high-profile, high-paycheck players to give a “culture reset” a slightly better chance of taking hold. Enter OKC, a team desperate for their two top wings.

Trade One: Otto Porter, Jr. for Andre Roberson, Alex Abrines and Patrick Patterson – and perhaps an unprotected first round pick, if necessary. (Washington saves over $5M this year before repeater tax, over $11M next.)

Trade Two: Bradley Beal for Hamidou Diallo, Andre Roberson, Alex Abrines and Patrick Patterson–and two unprotected first round picks. (Washington payroll drops almost $4M this year before repeater tax, $10M next year.)

OKC has needed shooting even since before Kevin Durant left, and currently sits in last place in 3-point-shooting. A great marksman like Beal or Porter, Jr. could do wonders for a team that tends to close games with Stephen Adams, Jerami Grant, Dennis Schroder and Russell Westbrook.

Obviously Beal is a much better all around player than Porter, Jr. so the asking price for him would be higher – a promising, bouncy rookie on a sweet contract in Diallo, and likely two unprotected first round picks.

Abrines is an expiring contract and Patterson has a player option for $5.7 million next year, while Andre Roberson makes $10 million each of the next two years. Though Roberson’s knee injury and setbacks are cause for concern, when healthy, he is a top level defender. He’s not untradeable, like Ian Mahinmi, or Wall. This deal wouldn’t necessarily make Washington better, but it would protect their cap space as Wall’s poisonous extension begins.

As this current ankle sprain has shown, Russell Westbrook’s prime won’t last forever, and it is too glorious a prime to waste losing in the first round, every single year, due, in large part, to a lack of perimeter shooting.

Now, any deal where a team trades three – or four – players for one will kill its depth. And the Thunder already lack depth. But a starting five or Westbrook, George, Grant, Adams, and either Beal or Porter, Jr., with Schroeder, Terrence Ferguson and Nerlens Noel coming off the bench would be a frightening playoff out.

OKC is in win-now mode, and either Beal or Porter, Jr. could help them win now. On the other hand, Washington is in IDGAF mode, so why not at least save some cap space and possibly add young assets while awaiting your franchise player’s blessed departure? It’s time to call Adam Silver and sign the dotted line.