Best fits for the Wizards if they make a move at NBA trade deadline

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Mike DePrisco
·4 min read
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Best fits for Wizards if they make a move at trade deadline originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

All signs are pointing to a quiet 2021 NBA trade deadline for the Wizards. 

It appears Washington will focus on improvement along the margins, addressing their struggling defense without dipping into their future draft assets. 

However, this is still a team several games below .500 and in need of an impact player to support Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook. So if they change course and decide to make a move of consequence at the trade deadline, here are five players who could make a real difference on the Wizards' outlook. 

Harrison Barnes: SF/PF, Kings

Barnes is a two-way wing who can play anywhere from shooting guard to power forward out on the floor. He's a solid defender, shooter and can get his own shot from all three levels. Playing more power forward with the Kings this season, Barnes has shown an improved passing ability to make plays for his teammates. 

The catch here for the Wizards would be his $22 million salary and the fact that the Kings are reportedly "reluctant" to just give Barnes away. Washington would have to match salaries and give Sacramento future draft picks to pry him away and potentially beat out a few contenders that would have interest in him as well. 

However, Barnes would do a lot for the Wizards on both ends of the court and provide a steady veteran presence on the wings. Plus, he still has two more years left on his contract after this season at decreasing salaries ($20 million in 2021-22, $18 million in '22-23).

Al Horford: C, Thunder

Horford is another player the Wizards would have to give up multiple players just to match salary, but what he brings at the center position could elevate this team substantially on both ends of the floor. Even at 35 years old, Horford is a solid, versatile defender who would stabilize the Wizards' defense on Day 1. 

Then, as an offensive player, you can either run everything through him from the elbow or in the post or use him as a pick and pop specialist with Westbrook and Beal handling the ball. Horford has a vast skill set and can fit in with any team, and the Thunder would probably let him go for the right price of players and future picks. 

The Wizards would just have to decide whether they want to take that kind of risk on a big man, productive as he may be, who's well past his prime. 

Larry Nance Jr.: PF/SF, Cavaliers

It remains to be seen whether the Cavaliers actually have interest in trading Nance away at the deadline, given the fact that he's been a good veteran leader to their young core and still has two more years left on his contract after this season. 

However, Cleveland continues to fall out of the play-in tournament picture and in a loaded 2021 draft class, acquiring as many picks as possible could be worth it in the end. If he becomes available, Nance would be a seamless fit for the Wizards. 

Similar to Barnes, Nance can play both forward spots, hit spot-up threes and defend at a high level. Also, imagine how deadly he'd be playing as the roll man next to Westbrook and Beal. Nance makes $11 million, so it'd be much easier for the Wizards to match salary without giving up as many players as they'd have to in a hypothetical Barnes or Horford trade.

Mo Bamba/Khem Birch: C, Magic

If the Magic aren't going to trade Nikola Vucevic, they'll have to do something to figure out their center rotation. Birch is the current backup, but he's an upcoming free agent and doesn't feel like he's a long term fit in Orlando. Bamba, the sixth pick in the 2018 draft who probably should figure into the team's future plans, hasn't gotten enough minutes playing behind Birch and Vucevic. 

So, if the Magic decide to alleviate their center rotation, the Wizards could swoop in and get a productive big man to help figure out their own center rotation. 

Birch is a solid defender, screen-setter and rebounder. If you want someone your head coach can just play 18-20 minutes per game and not worry about any mistakes on either end of the floor, Birch is your guy. Plus, he's only making $3 million this year and could seemingly be had in a player-for-player swap. The only drawback is there's little upside in his game. 

Then there's Bamba, where the case is almost completely centered around his untapped potential. He has elite size and could develop into a dynamic defensive player if developed properly. He just needs more minutes, and the Wizards could give him those minutes to close out the season with Thomas Bryant out with an ACL injury. Something to keep in mind with Bamba is he'll be extension-eligible after this season and will hit restricted free agency at the end of next season if he doesn't get one.