The Washington Wizards are stuck in neutral, and only a seismic trade can push them forward. Mired in mediocrity for 40-plus years, the Wizards have been sandwiched between horrible and decent since they landed prized pick John Wall with the first pick in the 2010 draft.

Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) looks on during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018, in Washington. The Bucks won 104-95. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Wall’s size, speed and athleticism gave the club a blue-chip guard with all the right physical tools to contend with the other top guards in the NBA. As a rookie, Wall’s talent helped endear him to a long-suffering franchise fresh off a nightmarish campaign. Eight years later, inconsistency, knee problems and a still-dicey jump shot has Wall and the Wizards in the NBA’s dreaded gray area—they’re good enough to make the playoffs, but not quite talented enough to contend for a title. Has the time come for the Wizards to trade John Wall? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk debate this important question.

Green: Maybe the Wizards should trade Wall. Moving him for a few valuable pieces would flick the reset switch, but the failures that general manager Ernie Grunfeld has endured in his tenure in Washington, D.C. don’t give me the greatest confidence that he can make such a move and come out ahead. Trading away All-Stars never fetches a fair return anyway, and I fear Grunfeld would only set the franchise back even further. Besides, Wall is still the face of the team and is already inside the Association’s circle of upper-echelon players, so his continued presence could be a free agent magnet if Washington ever clears enough money off the books to enter the market. The Wizards should make a trade, but Wall isn’t the player that they need to shop.

Riley: At this point, I don’t see how the club gets significantly better without taking steps back. Wall or Bradley Beal should be on the Wizards’ trade block, unfortunately, because they are the only assets they have that would fetch a sensible return. Beal’s contract, position and injury history doesn’t hold a lot of value among the league’s other front offices, but there’s always a market for athletic, oversized point guards in the prime of their career, even with Wall’s mega-extension set to kick in next year. Washington’s best plan for improvement was adding a key free agent or two a couple of summers ago when they had sizable cap room, and they blew it. In true Wizards fashion, the team squandered just over $30 million in cap space on guys who would barely crack the rotation on the league’s worst teams. Players like Ian Mahinmi, Jason Smith and Andrew Nicholson (who the club traded less than eight months after acquiring him in July 2016) swallowed a bulk of that cap room and spit out nothing in return. The Nicholson move was a double blow because Washington had to include their own first-round pick just to entice teams to take him and his erroneous contract off their hands. Grunfeld’s blundering has put the team in the inevitable position that they may have to move back short-term to move forward long-term.

Green: This team and the fans can’t handle another three to five years of incompetence. Frankly, there just is not any more room in the District for any more incompetence. It isn’t like the Wizards are the Cleveland Browns. They’re still in contention in the East and are selling tickets. The long-standing theory around the District is that Grunfeld and team owner Ted Leonsis are simply satisfied with the team being watchable and pushing merchandise. If that’s the case, then as long as the team is above water, I just can’t see Grunfeld moving Wall. Wall, Beal and Otto Porter Jr. were signed to massive extensions over back-to-back summers. Fans should just buckle up, because the core of this team may be in D.C. for years to come.

Riley: Porter and Beal probably can’t be moved because the money on them doesn’t match their play. If this team really wants to move up the ladder, then flipping Wall for some acceleration pieces will be key. Wall will never be the guy taking and making the last shot for a team. He’s much more a complimentary piece, similar to a Paul George. Wall needs a true alpha male beside him to drive out his best, and he’s not going to get that with Beal. Their status as the two best players in town is why Washington’s growth has been stunted. Whether it’s draft picks or some additional players, it’s time for Washington to move on from Wall.

Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley

AFRO Sports Desk