Dec 30, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Bojan Bogdanovic (44) drives to the basket as Washington Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. (22) defends in the third quarter at Verizon Center. The Wizards won 118-95. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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With the Washington Wizards trading a first round pick to the Brooklyn Nets for Bojan Bogdanovic, it’s time for more NBA Trade Grades.
With the 2017 NBA Trade Deadline less than 24 hours away, talks began to heat up on Wednesday. With the Washington Wizards searching for bench depth and the Brooklyn Nets in need of first round picks, the two sides were able to come to a fair agreement.
Dec 5, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (11) dribbles the ball while being defended by Washington Wizards forward Andrew Nicholson (44) during the first half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
When general manager Sean Marks dealt Thaddeus Young for a late first round pick that turned into Caris LeVert last year, many Nets fans felt a sense of relief that he understood what needed to be done to get Brooklyn back on track. This trade should only reaffirm that optimism.
True enough, the overall outlook is still pretty gloomy for the Nets. They have the worst record in the league by a mile, and they’ll likely be surrendering the No. 1 overall pick to the Boston Celtics this summer thanks to a disastrous trade for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in 2013 that depleted the Nets’ cupboard of assets.
Brooklyn also owes Boston its 2018 first-rounder, which is why it’s paramount for Marks to continue cleaning up the mistakes of his predecessor by adding whatever first-rounders he can scrounge up. Turning Bogdanovic into a first round pick — even one that’s currently slated to be No. 24 in this year’s draft — is a victory.
These are the type of deals the Nets need to make. I love it. They can package the picks to move up, or get two shots at a late-first steal. https://t.co/FVkPv9x7kI
Giving up a 22-year-old with potential like McCullough hurts, but the Nets needed a sweetener in this deal to justify getting a first-rounder for the bench player he’ll be in Washington. McCullough might have been a lottery pick in the 2015 NBA Draft if not for his ACL tear, but his recovery and adjustment to the NBA level has been slow-going.
There’s still potential there, but it’s unclear if he’ll ever reach his ceiling. He’s only played in 14 games this season, averaging 2.5 points and 1.2 rebounds in a meager 5.1 minutes per game.
As for Andrew Nicholson, he’s a 27-year-old power forward averaging just 2.5 points and 1.2 rebounds in 8.3 minutes per game this season. It’s safe to say he failed to live up to the bloated four-year, $26 million contract Washington signed him to last summer.
However, as much as taking on the two years and $13 million left on his salary (plus a $6.9 million player option for 2019-20) is less than ideal, Brooklyn is a team that can afford to take on that kind of unwanted contract. They can give him a go, and if he doesn’t pan out, the Nets can always stretch him.
They eat Nicholson’s $$$, but they’ll give him a look and can use the stretch provision to make it relatively painless if need be.
The Nets had to give up on McCullough’s potential and they’ll have to take on Nicholson’s ugly contract, but they somehow turned an upcoming restricted free agent like Bogdanovic into a first round pick — something very few people saw coming.
This will allow them to either package their two first-rounders (Boston’s pick currently at No. 26 and Washington’s pick currently at No. 24) to move up in the draft, or take two late stabs at unearthing a diamond in the rough.
Plus, we get the return of Marcus Thornton to Brooklyn!
Dec 30, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. (22) shoots the ball over Brooklyn Nets guard Bojan Bogdanovic (44) in the first quarter at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
As winners in 15 of their last 17 games, the Wizards’ rise up the Eastern Conference standings has been meteoric. Despite starting the season 3-9, Washington now sits at third in the East — only two games behind the Boston Celtics for the 2-seed.
The team’s starting five of John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter Jr., Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat is firing on all cylinders, boasting a +5.0 plus/minus that ranks third among all starting lineups in the association (trailing only the mighty Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers). Their Net Rating of +6.9 ranks sixth in the NBA among all starting units as well.
Unfortunately, Washington’s second unit ranks 26th among all NBA benches in plus/minus (-2.2), and 28th in Net Rating (-5.8). Adding a shooter like Bogdanovic, who is averaging 14.2 points per game on 35.7 percent shooting from three-point range, should help in that regard.
Bogdanovic will bolster a WAS bench even at the risk of a first and possible 3 month rental. Savings help with RFA of Otto Porter.
Bogdanovic doesn’t completely cure what ails Washington’s lackluster second unit, but he could be something of a Band-Aid for one of the NBA’s best starting fives.
Even better, by getting Nicholson’s disastrous contract off the books, along with Thornton’s minimum salary deal, the Wizards have better positioned themselves for Porter’s upcoming restricted free agency.
Bogdanovic is also a restricted free agent this summer, but the Wizards’ No. 1 priority will be clearing enough space to keep their young wing who is suddenly leading the NBA in three-point efficiency.
Getting rid of Nicholson, who wasn’t in rotation/3 yrs left on deal, creates potential room 4 Wiz to re-sign Otto Porter (RFA) this summer.
If they can keep Bogdanovic for the extended future and use him to bolster the bench, great. If not, he’ll be a three-month rental who will help Washington make a postseason run at the cost of a late first-rounder.
However, even in that worst-case scenario, the Wizards still managed to get that ugly Nicholson deal off the books. The 27-year-old power forward didn’t have a spot in the rotation anyway, so this is a win for Washington, who can potentially match offers on Bogdanovic this summer.
Chris McCullough may never amount to anything, but he was a high upside pick coming into the draft and is still only 22 years old. Who knows? Maybe a year or two to shake off the rust in a winning environment will help get his NBA career on track.
Though it cost the Wizards a first-rounder, this team is all in on its 2017 playoff aspirations and needed to make a move for some bench scoring. Bogdanovic should provide that and McCullough could wind up being a nice throw-in one day.