After blundering through the last decade, The D.C. Universe is rebooting. Not the Snyderverse IP. I’m talking about the grotesque prospects for basketball in the District of Columbia. Hang around there long enough and you’ll catch me moaning about the bleak times facing the Commanders, Nats, and Wizards. Outside of Oakland, no other city has it this bad right now.
A year ago, the Wizards inexplicably awarded the league’s mildest star $250 million and a no-trade clause. On Sunday, the Monument Sports Group Wizards traded Bradley Beal for a) Chris Paul, who they’ll probably waive after paying $25 million and b) picks that are worth less than the roasted ducks hanging around the corner from Capital One Arena.
On Thursday night, Kristaps Porzingis was crammed into a three-way trade to Boston. Here’s the breakdown of the Porzingis trade that exemplifies how aimless the Wizards are.
The Boston Celtics received Kristaps Porzingis, plus a 2023, and 2024 Memphis first-rounder.
Memphis added expert flopper and Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart to their Tennessee wrestling promotion.
The Wizards haul consisted of Ja Morant understudy Tyus Jones and a 2023 second from Boston.
Oddly enough, they weren’t able to finagle the more valuable 2024 Memphis first-round pick, which could be fairly high since Ja Morant will miss the season’s first 25 games. Hell, they could have settled for the 2023 pick. In a repeat of the Beal trade, new Wizards president Michael Winger got nothing on his end.
Trading Beal and Porzingis was just as fruitless as the John Wall and Beal era, which produced a few second-round trips, but ultimately wound up flopping harder than The Justice League. The tensions were so high during the Beal-Wall marriage, that Kevin Durant declined to even consider his hometown team as a free agent because they chased him too hard. Now, in Phoenix, the forlorn Wizards community will witness a glimpse of what could have been between him, and KD.
Conversely, you’ll find better hoops down at Barry Farms courts than at Wizards home games next season when Deni Avdija is the face of Washington basketball. Winger will draft a rookie in the lottery to share that ignominious role with the eighth pick. However, the Wizards’ track record of identifying talent has been horrendous since they took Beal in 2012. For a decade, they’ve evaluated talent with the proficiency of a procrastinating freshman trying to cram months of studying into one all-nighter before the final. To cap it off, the last lottery pick of the previous regime, Johnny Davis, began so poorly out the gates, he was putting up Darko Milicic numbers — in the G League.
Worst of all, they missed out on an opportunity to capitalize on a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity by super-maxing Beal, and kept just enough talent intact to whiff on the Victor Wembanyama race. The Wizards scheduling their clearance sale for this week is akin to doing something nice for your girl on Feb. 15th. The damage has been done.
Across the D.C. sports spectrum, mediocrity rules
Dan Snyder was a floating deuce whose lingering stench pushed fans away from one of the NFL’s most prestigious franchises. The Washington Commanders are still bleaching away Dan Snyder’s fecal matter after 10 years of being twisted into a perennial porcelain throne franchise. Their .395 winning percentage is the NFL’s lowest since 2013. Off the field, the Snyders were a disorganized crime family under investigation by several attorney generals, Congress, and at times, even the feds.
The Commanders have been buns for so long, I’m beginning to think it’s a psyops campaign. For at least the second time in recent years, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office took a hatchet to the Washington John Doe’s identity crisis. This can’t just be a coincidence.
New Commanders owner Josh Harris is tasked with replacing the NFL’s worst stadium, but that’s only a tertiary priority behind his Philadelphia 76ers’ beginning construction of their new arena, identifying a stadium site within the confines of D.C. proper, securing funding, and determining a permanent team name. In the fall, their lame-duck head coach will hand the keys to their franchise over to a fifth-round quarterback. Chase Young, the defensive end they foolishly chose over signal callers Justin Herbert, and Tua Tagovailoa is a sunken cost they may choose to move mid-season if he doesn’t perform up to expectations
Alex Ovechkin’s pursuit of Wayne Gretzky’s career goals mark should be enough to captivate Caps fans for a few more years, but they just missed the postseason for only the second time since 2008.
In case you forgot about Georgetown, don’t feel bad. They melted down at the end of John Thompson III’s stint and have been radioactive since. After Patrick Ewing’s ouster, Ed Cooley has been tasked with resurrecting the Hoyas from their Big East grave. The biggest fear is that Georgetown is on the verge of becoming St. John’s or worse— DePaul.
Meanwhile, the Washington Mystics have been the only DMV franchise to even remotely show signs of life. Elene Della Donne has carried D.C. basketball on her back in ways that K.D. was unwilling to, which is incredible given how structurally unsound her back is.
Amazingly, Beal’s albatross of a contract wasn’t even the worst one in D.C. Stephen Strasburg’s flamethrower has been permanently extinguished despite the 34-year-old being owed $140 million on the remaining four years of his contract. Last summer, Juan Soto was catapulted into the San Diego sun because the outgoing ownership was too cheap to pay their franchise cornerstone. And that was two years after they failed to competitively bid to keep Bryce Harper. In the process, they severed a prominent connective tissue to the 2019 Nats, and left the Nationals devoid of top-end minor league potential. Trea Turner and Max Scherzer are also gone. At least they have a World Series to show for their troubles though.
Ovechkin is the embalming fluid keeping D.C. from decomposing too quickly. Fortunately, the DMV is a big enough media market that scorched earth isn’t the only thing left behind like in Oakland. The D.C. sports landscape’s rebirth is an opportunity for hope or disappointment. We’ve just got to hope this is the rock bottom.
Follow DJ Dunson on Twitter: @cerebralsportex