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5 players the Wizards could target to trade for a third star originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The Wizards want to get better this offseason, to which degree they can may depend on their success in the trade market. They will be limited in free agency by the salary cap and hold the 15th overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.

General manager Tommy Sheppard has shown a penchant for trades in his tenure so far. He’s had success with bigger deals like the one for Russell Westbrook, as well as smaller moves like the ones for Davis Bertans and Daniel Gafford, neither of which appear small in hindsight.

This offseason may require some big thinking when it comes to trades. One avenue would be swinging for the fences to find a third star to play alongside Bradley Beal and Westbrook. Many things would have to fall into place for that to happen; the right player to become available, the right team as a trade partner and the right trade package to get it done. 

With that in mind, and with the caveat this is all speculative, here are some names the Wizards could try for this summer, some more realistic than others…

Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves

This would be aiming super high. There are many reasons to believe Towns won’t be dealt, despite the fact the Timberwolves just missed the playoffs for the 15th time in 16 years and for the third season in a row. He’s 25 and a certified star worthy of a better team but has also preached loyalty in the public in ways similar to Beal. The T’Wolves are also undergoing an ownership transfer and you could see why new leadership wouldn’t want to immediately move on from one of the best young players in the league.

All of that, though, doesn’t mean it’s not worth making a call, just to see. Towns is so uniquely good, particularly on offense. He’s young and would perfectly complement Beal and Westbrook due to his position and playing style. Towns would likely make the Wizards a contender. Even if he were made available by Minnesota, though, the cost would be exorbitant. The Wizards would probably have to call them up and say ‘anything but Beal.’ Think lots of draft picks and players, too.

Paul George, Clippers

This would also be aiming very high and, like with Towns, it’s doubtful whether George would even be made available. The Clippers haven’t found the playoff success they were hoping for with him and Kawhi Leonard so far, but that doesn’t mean they are ready to give up on the plan. If they do decide to part with George, however, he would be an ideal fit for the Wizards. They need help at wing, with perimeter defense and three-point shooting. Few players in the NBA check off those boxes as well as George. He also has history with Westbrook, having thrived alongside him in Oklahoma City.

George, though, would present more risk than trading for someone like Towns. He’s 31 years old and is set to make $39.3 million next season. George, in fact, is due to earn $176.3 million through his Age-34 season. His salary would put the Wizards at $118.1 million for their top three players, not far off from the $119.7 million the Nets will play Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving next year. A trade for George would also need to work quickly with both him and Westbrook in their 30s. Additionally, it may not cost as much as Towns to get him, but it wouldn’t be cheap.

Pascal Siakam, Raptors

Like Towns and George, there has been no real traction towards Siakam being dealt or even being made available by the Raptors. But they were a disappointing team this year and appear to have potential for changes, going all the way up to their front office with Masai Ujiri. Maybe Toronto, which holds the seventh-best odds in the lottery, could see a retooling of their roster, or even a rebuild, as wise. The Raptors haven’t been down long, but really good players on bad teams are often the formula for viable trade targets.

Regardless of how realistic a trade would be, Siakam would fit nicely on the Wizards at wing, where they need help the most. He can score and defend, though his inconsistent outside shot wouldn’t be ideal on a Washington team that needs shooting. Siakam is also very good, but the Wizards would need more than him, Beal and Westbrook to match them up against the best big threes in the East.

Kristaps Porzingis, Mavs

With the Mavericks in upheaval, Porzingis has become an odd-man-out on the roster, with some momentum seemingly building towards a trade. If he does get dealt, the Wizards would make some sense as a player-to-team fit. He would complement Beal and Westbrook positionally and he can shoot. Despite all the criticism of his game this year, Porzingis is coming off the most efficient season of his career and he’s only 25. The Wizards would also be able to backfill Porzingis’ biggest weaknesses. He’s not a great rebounder, but Westbrook is. He’s not the rim-protector he used to be, but Daniel Gafford can help with that.

There are, though, some potential problems with trading for Porzingis. One would be whether the Wizards make sense as trade partners with the Mavs. Dallas seems to be in need of a legitimate second star to pair with Luka Doncic. Given they don’t want to trade Beal, the Wizards probably can’t help in that regard. Also, though Porzingis would fit the Wizards well, how good they would actually be in the East is a question. Porzingis alone probably doesn’t put them on a level playing field with Philly, Brooklyn and Milwaukee.

Myles Turner, Pacers

The Pacers are probably going to make some changes this summer beyond firing their coach after a letdown of a season. And it has long been speculated whether they will part with either Domantas Sabonis or Turner, as the two big men have at times shown they are an awkward fit. Given Sabonis is the multi-time All-Star, Turner could be the one to go if they split them up, even though he just led the NBA in blocked shots for the second time in three years. 

Turner has a lot of selling points. He’s 25 years old, due to make only $36 million combined the next two seasons, he plays a complementary position to Beal and Westbrook, he’s a decent outside shooter and he’s a big-time defender. Imagine a center rotation with him and Gafford. Good luck to opposing teams. Turner would also give the Wizards some upside, as he’s young enough and good enough to potentially develop into an All-Star. Maybe he wouldn’t represent a third star right away, but he has a chance to be one in the not so distant future.