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Will the Wizards make another trade before the season? originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The NBA has recalibrated its calendar to have the 2021-22 season begin on time, with training camps in late September, followed by the preseason and then the regular season beginning in mid-October. Though last season began later and was shorter due to the coronavirus, the plan is for things to operate on a more traditional schedule this time around.
In most years, this is the quiet period when executives finally take time off. News of importance rarely breaks. But when it comes to the Wizards, there are also reasons to wonder whether they are done making significant moves.
Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard was asked about exactly that in various forms of questioning last month during a press conference discussing the team's flurry of trades. The moves he made left a roster with more depth and mid-level contracts, the types that can be packaged together in trades. There may also be, as some have argued, imbalances to the roster that could be smoothed out.
You could add into the equation the fact the Wizards made their biggest move of last offseason after training camp began. That would be the trade that sent John Wall to the Houston Rockets for Russell Westbrook. Sure, last offseason was a hectic sprint because the previous season ended in October. Still, training camp opened and the Wizards weren't even close to being done.
This time, though, Sheppard seems intent on gathering more data about the team he has assembled before making his next move.
"Certainly, you always keep an eye on the future. You know where your cap is moving forward. Having a lot of veteran contracts gives you a lot more flexibility. But I’d like to see these players play for us. I’d like to see these guys come together and matriculate as a roster," Sheppard said.
Where you could argue the Wizards have depth to deal from is at forward. They acquired three players from the Lakers in Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Montrezl Harrell, plus have veteran holdovers like Davis Bertans. Theoretically, the Wizards could flip one of them for something else.
Sheppard, though, is interested in how those guys can complement each other as well as Bradley Beal, newly acquired point guard Spencer Dinwiddie and others. And he doesn't think it will take long to know what they have before looking ahead to the 2022 NBA trade deadline.
"I think chemistry is something that is so important and we showed last year when that group was able to come together the second half of the season and what they were able to do at the end gives you hope that, hey, you can get groups of new players together and they can still come together and do good things. Bringing Daniel Gafford in at the deadline, his impact was tremendous in the 23 games he was able to play," Sheppard said.
The Wizards went 17-6 in the games Gafford appeared in, as he proved to be a plug-and-play difference-maker. The Wizards were also able to incorporate Alex Len last season after signing him in January once he was released from the Raptors.
So, basically, if you are going to take Sheppard at his word, the Wizards' roster is mostly what it will look like on opening night. He added they could bring in a few more players at the end of the roster, with a two-way contract spot still open, plus more fringe guys likely to play for their G-League affiliate.
Sheppard also brought a different spin to the depth and flexibility conversation. Yes, it could convey in the form of future trades, but it could also help them on the court in the meantime.
"Instead of having so much invested in one or two contracts, being able to spread the wealth a little bit, gives us a lot more optionality and it gives us a lot more versatility," he said.
Things can change and the Wizards proved that last offseason. But as of now, Sheppard suggests something similar is not in the cards.