Intriguing crunch time decisions loom for Wizards

Intriguing crunch time decisions loom for Wizards
December 6, 2013, 12:15 am

Wizards headed in 'right direction'

Washington Wizards' Trevor Ariza in action during an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, in Philadelphia.

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Our friends over at Bullets Forever posed this question on Thursday: What should the Wizards do with Trevor Ariza? The premise is simply whether the Wizards should take advantage of the small forward's rising value following his strong start by dealing him and his expiring contract.

BF provided the details, including that Ariza is draining 3-pointers (a staggering 57 percent from the corners), that the Wizards defense is statistically better when the lengthy forward is on the court, but that he also plays the same position as Otto Porter and essentially Martell Webster.

The simple answer is no. For now and likely for good, that window has closed, though I admit to thinking Ariza could have been dealt during the offseason, preseason or when Emeka Okafor went down.

If the Wizards were out of the playoff mix or fighting just for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, then we could talk. That's clearly not the case now. Washington's run of seven wins in nine games has Ariza and company as the No. 3 seed. The East is a mess and the Wizards right now are not. If anything, we might get to a point where the Wizards think about adding a key piece for a postseason push.

[MORE: Bucks-Wizards preview]

However, the notion of trading Ariza brought up a different thought: What happens when Bradley Beal returns? No, we're not talking trade, but rather lineup and crunch time scenarios.

Webster previously ceded his starting slot to Ariza so presumably he would again. The real intrigue would come at the end of games. We know John Wall is on the court. Assuming good health, the same goes for Nene. Beal was trending toward All-Star status before his latest leg injury so he's there as well.

[MORE: MarTELL IT LIKE IT IS]

In small ball situations, Randy Wittman can use Ariza as a stretch-four with Webster and Beal. Against teams with two viable big men - think Pacers, Hawks, Pistons - the lineup reverts to a traditional look with Marcin Gortat and Nene. Considering how the international Beef Brothers (yes, I'm sticking with this) have performed together, Wittman might want them on the court regardless.

Therefore, when Beal returns, the question becomes whom does Wittman turn to at the start and most of all, at the end. Of course, dear readers, when it comes to sharing an opinion there is no reason to wait.