Now that the 2023 NBA Draft Lottery is in the books and the draft order is settled, hypothetical free-agent signings and trade ideas are in full swing. With a prospective new general manager, the 8th overall pick in the draft, and two major expiring contracts in Kyle Kuzma and Kristaps Porzingis, the Washington Wizards are surely going to be active in the offseason. So it is no surprise to see their names come up in trade scenarios.
One hypothetical trade idea came from Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report, who suggested a sign-and-trade for Fred VanVleet for the Wizards. In the deal, the Wiz receive VanVleet from the Toronto Raptors while giving up Daniel Gafford, Johnny Davis, Isaiah Todd, and, most importantly, the 8th pick of the draft.
Fred VanVleet has a player option for the 2023-24 season worth $22.8 million. He is presumably going to opt out and demand a four-year deal, as this is likely his last chance to get a big paycheck. As a 29-year-old undersized point guard with limited athleticism and a very physical style of play, how well his game is going to age is a big question mark. A four-year deal might look ugly by the end of it.
Is VanVleet’s winning reputation enough to make him a must-get?
But VanVleet is also a winning player that fits everywhere. He can play both on-ball and off-ball, he can shoot, he is tough, and he can defend multiple positions. With a proven ability to play championship-level basketball, he should continue to have a big market around the league going forward. So, he will likely be tradeable on that contract if the Wizards decided to change course in a year or two.
VanVleet is a massive upgrade in the point guard position for the Wizards. Moving Monte Morris to a backup role where he is more comfortable will be another benefit of this move. Since VanVleet can play the shooting guard position as well, he can also act as a backup to injury-prone Bradley Beal.
Is the proposed trade idea too little, too much, or just right?
Despite all this, the package including both Davis and the 8th pick is too rich for VanVleet. Considering VanVleet’s likely annual salary of $25-30 million and new deals for Kuzma and Porzingis, the Wizards will get expensive quickly. Paying around $120 million a year for the core of VanVleet, Beal, Kuzma, and Porzingis is tough to stomach for any owner in the NBA.
Trying to fill the gap at point guard with the No.8 pick might be a better option for Washington as things stand right now. Unless the Wizards can trade for a surefire starter on a bargain contract with that pick, it would behoove them to hold on to it and try to nail it.