What will Wizards do with log jam at forward?
Back in 2011, the Wizards had the third best draft lottery odds. Remaining in the slot for the actual draft would not have been high enough to land the player fans coveted most, University of Arizona forward Derrick Williams. Alas, unlike 2013, the ping-pong gods did not raise Washington's position, instead dropping them down to the No. 6 overall selection. Eventually that pick turned into Jan Vesely. We know how that's turned out so far.
So, how has Williams' NBA career turned out so far? Well, there is no sincere comparisons to previous busts, but the 6-foot-8 power forward hasn't lived up to expectations after the Timberwolves drafted him second overall. The decision-maker who selected him, David Kahn, is out and now ex-Wizards coach Flip Saunders is calling the personnel shots. Now Minnesota is reportedly dangling Williams and its first round pick (No. 9) with the hopes of moving up in the 2013 draft.
Looks like TWolves will try to deal Derrick Williams and No. 9 pick to move up in NBA draft.— Charley Walters (@Charley_Walters) June 3, 2013
Victor Oladipo is a rumored target for the Timberwolves. The Indiana guard and defensive presence will likely be among the top-5 selections in the draft.
The Wizards have the third overall pick - and available forwards to ship in a 2-for-2 deal including Vesely, Trevor Booker and Chris Singleton. Adding an experienced scoring threat up front is part of Washington's offseason plan. Williams averaged 12.0 points last season.
Because the Timberwolves have several international players, sending the Czech native Vesely to Minnesota is a popular scenario for the bar room and message board set. One league source familiar with the Timberwolves thinking under former general manager David Kahn told CSNwashington such a deal involving Williams would have been unlikely. That's hardly stunning.
Would Saunders and his former boss, Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld, discuss a swap of picks and players is the question.
Referring to Vesely, the league source said, "Does Minnesota need somebody that is long, athletic and can run the court? Yeah, but they also need somebody who has skills to score the ball. Anything is possible with the new regime. The old regime wouldn't have considered it in years. Derrick Williams is an NBA player for sure. He's still trying to figure out what's that role, what's that niche."
Playing third or fourth fiddle in Minnesota last season and often at small forward, Williams shot 43 percent from the field and 33 percent on his 3-point attempts. By comparison, he shot 59.5 percent from the field and a staggering 57 percent from beyond the 3-point arc during his final season at Arizona.
Other 2012-13 stats include 5.5 rebounds and a 14.5 PER. As ProBasketballTalk's Kurt Helin wrote about Williams, "He’s nice. Not thrilling, but nice."
Rarely does anyone offer even lukewarm comments about the Wizards young frontcourt options, which is why changing the look behind Nene and Emeka Okafor should be a priority.
In this hypotheitcal deal, Williams could return to his power forward role and potentially start in 2014-15 when Okafor's salary comes off the books. Over the next three seasons (if his team extends a qualifying offer for the fifth year), Williams is set to earn $20.7 million. Over that same stretch, Vesely would receive $13.9 million. The Timberwolves could part ways with Booker after this season if they so desired.
Ultimately, this speculative scenario likely hinges on how much the Timberwolves covet Oladipo or another prospect - and perhaps a little on whether Saunders thinks he can coax more out of any off those Wizards he previously coached. Minnesota also has four of its own free agents to consider, including center Nikola Pekovic.
Trade out of three and forget the Wizards drafting Otto Porter Jr., Ben McLemore and likely Anthony Bennett. Move down six spots and Washington could still add a third guard like Lehigh's C.J. McCollum, a wing threat like UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad or possibly benefit should Maryland's Alex Len or another prospect slide to nine. Oh, and get Derrick Williams.
No, nothing is likely to happen because there is more smoke than fire at this time of year. Still, welcome back, draft rumor mill.