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Wizards GM believes their young players could be trade assets originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Given their lack of cap room to spend in free agency this summer, the Wizards may have to use the trade market if they intend on making substantial improvements to their roster. That could mean trading draft picks and young players, the future for the present.
Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard, though, believes the Wizards have enough young talent to give them options in a trade scenario. He can tell by the signals other teams are sending.
"There's always an opportunity to make a trade if you have enough good young players. I've gotten enough inquiries on guys on our roster that makes me feel like 'hey, we have good players on this roster,'" Sheppard said.
He didn't mention specific names, but it's not hard to deduce who he's likely talking about. The Wizards have three young players in particular who are under contract and have shown more promise than others. Those would be Rui Hachimura, Daniel Gafford and Deni Avdija. Hachimura and Avdija were the Wizards' first round picks in each of the past two years, while Gafford was acquired in a shrewd trade at the deadline with the Chicago Bulls.
All three would have some trade value, perhaps especially for another team aiming to dispatch a veteran player in a turn towards the future. But all three also have value for the Wizards, who have in Hachimura a legitimate starting forward, in Gafford an ascending rim-protector and in Avdija a relatively raw talent with two-way potential. All three are 23 years or younger and on salary cap-friendly contracts.
Sheppard may face a decision of whether to part with some collection of those three for someone or a group of players who can help the Wizards win now. He may also be able to appease star guard Bradley Beal in the process.
Sheppard is willing to consider everything.
"You want to prepare for the big moment and be ready for the big moment. You'll know when that moment comes because people will be calling you about it," he said.
"I think in the last two years we've shown we're not shy to do anything that makes the Wizards better."
That last line may have been a reference to the trade he made last December shipping out the longtime face of the franchise, John Wall, who was beloved by fans. Sheppard made a tough call with that one, and had to attach a first-round pick, but in return got a better and healthier player in Russell Westbrook.
If Sheppard traded Wall, then he can trade anybody. And in the NBA, young players are often developed for multiple reasons. They can either help the team that drafted them win, or help that team get the players who can.
This summer, the Wizards may have to decide which categories their young players fit into.