Wizards mathematically eliminated from playoff contention

March 29, 2019

When the Miami Heat beat the Dallas Mavericks Thursday night to improve to 37-38 on the season, it had the side effect of officially eliminating the Washington Wizards from playoff contention.

Though long a foregone conclusion, the Wizards (31-45) will not be able to catch up to Miami, the Orlando Magic, Brooklyn Nets and the Detroit Pistons for one of the final available playoff berths in the Eastern Conference.

The franchise is just two years removed from a 49-win season and a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Boston Celtics. But this season will be the seventh time in the last 11 that Washington misses the playoffs.

The Wizards’ lost season will be remembered for the constant injuries and roster turnover.

Star point guard John Wall had to be shut down for the season with a chronic Achilles tendon injuryand his recovery timeline was set back when he re-ruptured it slipping in the shower, meaning he will not be able to return to basketball activities until around December or January at the earliest. Another marquee name, Dwight Howard, was brought in during the summer but only played nine games for Washington as he dealt with a gluteal injury.

Meanwhile, the Wizards made four different trades between December and the trade deadline. The first moved Jason Smith in a three-team deal to land Sam Dekker while the season was still young and the team potentially competitive.

But after a different proposed three-team trade was spoiled by miscommunication that some have pinned on the Wizards’ front office, Kelly Oubre Jr. and Austin Rivers were shipped out for Trevor Ariza. At the trade deadline, shortly after the news that Wall would miss 12 months of basketball activities, Otto Porter Jr. and Markieff Morris were shipped out and Bobby Portis, Jabari Parker and Wesley Johnson came to the District.

During all this, Wizards fans have called more and more for team president Ernie Grunfeld to be fired. Grunfeld is the third longest-tenured front office executive in the NBA and the longest-tenured one who hasn’t won a championship.

The Wizards have the eighth-worst record in the NBA as of Thursday night, and therefore, the eighth-best odds to win the NBA Draft Lottery. That is subject to change over the final two weeks of the season.

Washington has six games left to play, starting Friday at the Utah Jazz. The team’s focus now has to be solely on evaluating the roster for 2019-2020 and beyond.