Here with your weekly look at the Wiz is Mr. Irrelevant contributing writer Bryan Frantz.
For your first Wizards update of 2015, we’re going to focus on the rotation at small forward now that Martell Webster has rejoined the team. With four players that all primarily play the position and are deserving of significant minutes, Washington has to sort it out.
Paul Pierce (The Starter)
Paul Pierce has been solid in his first season as a Wizard and is likely entrenched as the starter, though if one of the others dramatically steps up his game, he could be moved to the bench. The future Hall of Famer may not take nice to being replaced by one of the ragtag bunch that currently backs him up.
After all, the man won an NBA Championship and the Finals MVP in ’08. Do you think he’d be particularly enthused to be benched in favor of Martell Webster?
Martell Webster (The Newcomer)
Webster offers three-point shooting and athleticism, not to mention a great rapport with Marcin Gortat. He came to Washington with fellow small forward Trevor Ariza before the 2012-13 season and has started 75 games in a Wizards uniform, but he was eventually moved to the sixth man role in favor of Ariza. Ariza of course plays in Houston now, and after a hot start to the season is now struggling mightily. Before Thursday’s game, Ariza shot below 50 percent in 27 consecutive games, so that’s something to feel good about if you’re a Wizards fan.
Otto Porter Jr. (The Youngster)
Otto Porter Jr. was the third overall pick in the 2013 draft and had an incredibly disappointing rookie season, which was immediately derailed by a hip injury that forced him to miss the first 18 games. He never got back on track and his season, along with those of most of the 2013 draft class, was forgettable.
This season, Porter has shown flashes of the star he became at Georgetown, where he led the Hoyas in points, rebounds and steals in 2012-13. He had a career-high 21 points in the Wizards’ home opener back in November, when Pierce got ejected right before halftime. All but two of Porter’s points came in the second half.
He has scored in double-digits seven times this season, and at just 21 years old, his potential is enormous. Also, he makes a badass Ninja Turtle.
Rasual Butler (The Sharpshooter)
Last, but most assuredly not least, is “Casual” Rasual Butler. Butler, the last Wizard to make the roster, bounces around the top of the league in three-point shooting percentage, and he currently sits around 50 percent from deep. His shot selection is often questionable and sometimes preposterous, but for a 35-year-old making less than what Garrett Temple makes, he’s doing alright.
So, What Now?
Pierce isn’t likely to go anywhere, and I’d be surprised if Butler got traded too. Both players are savvy veterans who would likely only be targeted by teams who think they’re one savvy veteran away from a championship. Like the Wizards.
Webster and Porter are the most likely trade candidates, though it’s not as if Washington is dying to get rid of either one. Webster makes the most sense, as he doesn’t really offer anything that the Wizards can’t get from the other three and his contract is excessive at more than $5 million annually.
If Porter has a few more solid games in the coming weeks, he could be shipped out before the Feb. 19 trade deadline. The Wizards might want to capitalize on his value, and if they’re serious about making a run for Kevin Durant in 2016, there won’t be much room (or money) to keep Porter around past his rookie contract.
What Washington could use in return is backcourt help or a rim protector off the bench, but the likeliest scenario is all four remain on the team through the end of the season. It’s a good problem to have.