Spurs swing on Wizards forward Rui Hachimura in this pre-deadline trade

Rui Hachimura - New Orleans Pelicans v Washington Wizards
Rui Hachimura - New Orleans Pelicans v Washington Wizards / Rob Carr/GettyImages
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Spurs land 3 players and a 1st round pick in their deal with Washington

In this proposed trade, the Spurs send Jakob Poeltl, Josh Richardson, and the Charlotte Hornets' heavily-protected 1st round pick, acquiring Rui Hachimura, Will Barton, Daniel Gafford, and the Wizards' 2025 1st round pick with moderate protections. Before diving into why each team may or may not like this trade in reality, let's get a bit into the logic behind the trade.

Beginning on the Wizards' side first, the team is in an incredibly awkward spot. The team and Bradley Beal came to a deal on a massive five-year, $251 million max contract this past offseason, meaning that the clock is now ticking for them to become genuinely competitive--and quickly. But the team's starting point guard is Monte Morris, they have several good but not great wings causing a logjam at both forward positions, Johnny Davis is struggling to adjust to the NBA, and both Kyle Kuzma and Kristaps Porzingis are going into the final year of their contracts (assuming both exercise their player options).

In other words, the Wizards need to make some game-time decisions sooner rather than later and the team will need to pull out all the stops to create a viable playoff team around Beal. By replacing Barton, Gafford, and Hachimura with Richardson and Poeltl, the Wizards will avoid having to extend Hachimura and replace two relatively unimportant players with a 3-and-D wing with secondary ball-handling chops and a starting-caliber NBA center, both of whom happen to be on expiring contracts.

Poeltl and Richardson could be enough for the Wizards to make a legitimate push for one of the final play-in spots in the East this season. But if the team only wants to keep one of them beyond this season after experimenting with them, their expiring contracts would allow the team to simply let one of them walk. Charlotte's 1st round pick is only icing on the cake for the Wizards in this scenario despite the likelihood that the pick will only convey as two 2nd round picks a couple of offseasons from now. But for a team that could be paying big bucks for several players soon, finding cheap, NBA-ready role players in the 2nd round of the draft could be an excellent strategy anyway.

For the Spurs, the logic behind this trade is quite a bit simpler. Josh Richardson and Jakob Poeltl are both on expiring contracts, and it may be better for the team to ship them off in a trade (for the right price) rather than risking letting one or both of them walk for nothing. Gaining two relatively young players in Hachimura and Gafford, along with Barton's expiring contract and a 1st round pick could be enough to sway the Spurs in the Wizards' direction if no better offers are on the table.

Hachimura's shooting is what could make him valuable in the eyes of the Spurs, particularly being that the team won't have Josh Richardson at their disposal any longer. He's extended the range on his jumper since entering the league, having hit nearly 45% (!!) of his three-point shots this past season and hitting about 35% this year through 28 games. Immediately upon arrival, he'll likely be getting more shot attempts from three but can also efficiently hit 1- or 2-dribble midrange pull-ups when he's forced to put the ball on the floor.

Being that Barton will likely be waived or allowed to ride out the rest of his season in a very minor role, Gafford is the only other player in this deal with a bit of significance. While I could easily see him being left out of this trade entirely, if the Spurs aren't quite comfortable with allowing Charles Bassey to have a more permanent role off the bench, but still want more depth at the center position, they may opt to bring in a proven backup center like Gafford instead.

But similar to the Wizards, the 1st round pick is what gets this deal done for the Spurs. While the Wizards may be comfortable with giving away their 2025 1st round pick under the assumption that they'll be a competitive team that season, the Spurs would be banking on them underperforming, but not quite to the point that they're completely bottoming out. For reference, think about how the Atlanta Hawks are performing this season. If the Spurs believe that the pick could convey in the late lottery in 2025, I think they pull the trigger on the deal relatively quickly.