NBA recap: Wizards make their move, Pacers streaking and more

(Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Trade season in the NBA has officially begun with the Washington Wizards making one final push before things can shake up this offseason.

On Dec. 15, the Washington Wizards acquired Trevor Ariza from the Phoenix Suns for Austin Rivers and Kelly Oubre Jr., as first reported by ESPN‘s Adrian Wojnarowski. It came the morning after a failed trade between the same teams, plus the Memphis Grizzlies, took the NBA Twittersphere by storm. We won’t dive into the confusion of the Brooks dynamic, or the Suns offloading a strong asset in Ariza for Oubre and Rivers, who was waived this week.

The main talking point from this trade, or initial fail of a trade, is the Wizards realizing this is their last stand with their current roster. Ariza had his best offensive season with the Wiz in 2013-14, and his return to Washington comes at a time where the team is seven games under .500 and three games back of the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.

John Wall and Bradley Beal remain among the most talented backcourt duos in the NBA, but finding adequate players around them has been a challenge. Otto Porter Jr. played his way to a massive contract and has the 3-and-D game that fits next to them, but no leaps have been made in his game since the contract, and he’s averaging his fewest minutes, shot attempts and points per game since the 2015-16 season.

Outside of Porter, Tomas Satoransky provides energy and playmaking, but doesn’t receive minutes. Markieff Morris is wildly inconsistent and Jeff Green is, well, Jeff Green. The trade for Ariza certainly improves their team in terms of defense, shooting and lineup flexibility, as well as bringing in a familiar veteran that understands the dynamics of this roster — Wall and Beal in particular.

A team with this much talent in this conference shouldn’t be this far out of the playoffs, and trading for Ariza signals this could be their last run. The future cap space is held hostage over Wall’s max contract that kicks in next season, Beal and Porter’s deals that run expensive until 2021. This is supposed to be their Big 3, but only Beal has made improvements in his game over the years and tensions always seem high with this team.

If this season finishes without a playoff berth or a competitive first round series, changes could be made this summer. Beal is a two-way star, Porter could up his game with a change of scenery and it wouldn’t be a shock if somebody made an offer for John Wall, a la the Detroit Pistons moving for Blake Griffin last season.

Management and coaching changes could happen to mix things up, but the on-court product remains what it has been for years: promising at times, but disappointing for the most part. The rest of this season is looking like their final run together.