The Washington Wizards are continuing to wheel and deal. The new front office swung an early trade by sending Bradley Beal to the Suns for Chris Paul. The Wizards followed that up by sending Kristaps Porzingis to the Boston Celtics in a three-team trade that also featured the Memphis Grizzlies.
But the Wizards are far from done. Chris Paul’s stay in the capital won’t last very long. In fact, it won’t even really happen, as Washington is sending Chris Paul to the Golden State Warriors in exchange for Jordan Poole. Here are the parameters of the deal:
The trade that will send Chris Paul, however briefly, to Washington, must take place before June 30 to be cap legal. When the new restrictions on salary-matching in trades for super tax teams kick in come July 1 with the new CBA, the Wizards and Suns wouldn’t be able to work a deal. At least not as easily as they have.
This trade, in the exact opposite way, must wait until after July 1 (really until noon Eastern on July 6 when the moratorium ends) to be legal. The reason for that is that Jordan Poole’s extension doesn’t kick in until July 1. Until that point, he’d be subject the poison pill. That means his deal wouldn’t be large enough, even with the inclusion of Rollins, to match salary for Paul.
That means Chris Paul will be a member of the Wizards for about two weeks or so, while probably never leaving the west coast the entire time.
Incoming 2023-24 Salary: $29,675,221
Outgoing 2023-24 Salary: $30,800,000
Washington is continuing to reshape their roster. In effect, they split Bradley Beal’s contract in half by acquiring Jordan Poole. And they picked up a couple of picks in the process. That’s not bad work, even if it does eat into some of the incredible cap flexibility the Wizards had achieved by trading Beal and Kristaps Porzingis.
Despite coming off a down year, Poole is a good player. He lost some of his efficiency last season with the Warriors, as he seemingly struggled to readapt to being a bench player. Poole seems like the kind of player who needs to be right in it, vs heating up quickly off the bench.
With Washington, Poole projects to be their primary offensive option. At this point, we have no real idea what the Wizards roster will look like around Poole, but it’s hard to imagine they’ll have anyone better than he is offensively. That’ll mean a lot of shots and points, and a good number of assists, but his shooting percentages and overall efficiency may suffer.
Rollins is being painted as a throw-in to this deal, but he has talent. His rookie season was mostly a wash due to a foot injury, but Rollins flashed at times. In nine games in the G League, he showed the same knack for shooting and scoring that he showed in his two seasons at Toledo. He’ll probably get a chance to play on this rebuilding Washington team.
The Wizards are also getting a first-round pick from the Warriors that will convey long after Golden State’s golden era will have wrapped up. It’s top-20 protected, so the upside is fairly limited, but it’s another asset in a growing pile for the Wizards.
As for the cap, we said Washington basically split Beal’s salary in half by acquiring Poole. That takes some flexibility away, compared to taking back no long-term money. Poole is owed $125 million over the next four seasons, with salaries ranging from $27.9 million for next season to $34.5 million in his final season. But that’s not the end of the world.
When we wrote up the Porzingis’ trade, we made note that the Wizards could create up to $100 million in cap space next summer. That’s now down to about $70 million or so. Spending $100 million in a single summer, for a rebuilding team, was unlikely. So, Washington takes a chance that Poole will rediscover his game as a primary guy, in exchange for some likely unspendable cap space. And, who knows? Maybe Poole will get traded at some point too.
Incoming 2023-24 Salary: $30,800,000
Outgoing 2023-24 Salary: $29,675,221
Chris Paul was once Enemy #1 of Warriors fans. Now, Dubs fans will be hoping he can help them extend their title contention window by at least one more year.
On the court, this trade gives Golden State the best backup guard to Stephen Curry that they’ve ever had. And Curry and Paul will share the floor plenty too. Paul is slowing down and not the dominant, game-controlling force he once was. But he’s still plenty good. In fact, Paul is overqualified for the role Golden State is going to put him in.
And that’s a good thing.
Paul’s issue at this point is his workload. He can’t hold up playing 30-plus minutes per game over a full season. With the Warriors, Paul will likely be down around 20 minutes per game, and he’ll be able to sit when he needs to. And if Curry suffers another untimely injury, Paul can step up and more than capably fill in.
But as great as The Point God is, this trade was heavily influenced by the new CBA. The Warriors were seen as the primary reason (with the LA Clippers coming in second) for the new super tax restrictions in the incoming CBA. Golden State had a lot of long-term money on their books after extending both Poole and Andrew Wiggins last summer. And they’re looking to re-sign Draymond Green this summer, after he just opted out of his deal too. Add it up, and the NBA’s most expensive team was going to remain at that level for the foreseeable future. And that meant little wiggle room for building out the roster.
That meant something had to break and someone had to go. That someone ended up being Jordan Poole. If Paul is out of the picture after one season (his $30 million contract is fully non-guaranteed for 2024-25), the Warriors will have cut $97 million in guaranteed salary off their books. That will help create a little flexibility moving forward, as Golden State tries to keep that title window pried open for the next few years.
One last benefit for the Warriors: they kept Chris Paul from joining division and conference rivals in Los Angeles with the Lakers and Clippers. Those two teams were considered the front-runners to get Paul, either via trade or in free agency. Now, both teams are left to figure out other options at the lead guard spot.