Wittman 'not anticipating' trade; Ariza ignoring deadline

Wittman 'not anticipating' trade; Ariza ignoring deadline
February 18, 2014, 9:00 am
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The NBA trading deadline is this week, Thursday at 3 p.m. ET to be precise. That means rumors, rumors everywhere, several involving the Washington Wizards. That does not mean across the league actual conversations between teams are in or headed into overdrive.

"I think there is a lot less chatter than ever before," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said following Monday's practice as the team returned from the All-Star break.

That hasn't prevented various reports linking Washington to big men like Greg Monroe (Detroit Pistons) and Taj Gibson (Chicago Bulls) or various point guards including Andre Miller (Denver Nuggets) and Beno Udrih (New York Knicks). Upcoming free agent forward Trevor Ariza often serves as a possible trade chip the Wizards would send in return.

Wittman largely stuck with an 8-9 man playing rotation over the last month. Barring injury or the unforeseen, that's not likely to change most nights. While a new addition could enhance that core group if not the overall roster, two teams finding the sweet compensation spot is rarely as easy as fans looking for activity would hope.

"I'm not anticipating anything," Wittman said. "Obviously, you have to look. If there is something that makes you a better team coming down the stretch then we've got to look to do it."

With injured forward Al Harrington still sidelined for now, the Wizards lack a big man with range. With Eric Maynor stuck on the bench, the rumor mill constantly mentions point guards with a scoring knack who could complement the defensive-minded Garrett Temple behind starter John Wall. Another ball handler at any perimeter position wouldn't hurt.

Those are rather specific needs. The Wizards have a very specific goal over the final 30 games: Win enough games to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Whether addressing any of those specific needs helps the ultimate goal and at what cost is the question.

"Is there one [need] in particular, no," Wittman stated. "I think [team president] Ernie [Grunfeld] and [the front office members] are taking a hard serious look [so] that if an opportunity presents itself to make us a stronger team we'll look at it."

Then there are the players, the ones who could lose minutes or those specifically mentioned in rumors like Ariza.

After the Wizards drafted Otto Porter and signed Martell Webster to a multi-year contract this past off-season, one could easily imagine Ariza shipped elsewhere.

However, the well-traveled veteran is having a career-year, averaging 14.4 points, 6.2 rebounds while shooting 40 percent on his 3-point attempts and playing high-end defense. Now it's hard imagining how the Wizards could part ways, though Ariza remains a viable asset. He could also sign elsewhere this offseason with the Wizards receiving nothing in return.

Fans think about such things, management as well. Ariza says such speculation is not for him.

"I've just been focused on what we've been doing here," Ariza said. "I haven't paid any attention to any rumors. Haven't really heard any rumors. Just focused on what I can control and what's going on here."

What's going on with the Wizards is a team looking to lock up a playoff berth and make a move the Eastern Conference standings. Washington (25-27) sits in sixth entering Tuesday's matchup with the third place Toronto Raptors.

"These games are definitely important. You can't hide the fact that they're important," Ariza said. "I feel like all 30 games are important so we have to approach all 30 the same."