JUNKIES: Mike Prada happy Wizards 'finally found religion' and sold Ted Leonsis on a rebuild


The NBA Draft is over and free agency begins this weekend – so the Junkies had Mike Prada from The Athletic jump on Thursday morning to discuss Victor Wembanyama and Bilal Coulibaly’s projections, the Wizards’ rebuild, Damian Lillard's future, and some free agency predictions.

And on that middle subject, Prada is glad the Wizards ‘finally found religion’ and decided to tear it down to the studs and rebuild – and knows it won’t be easy, or quick.

“It’s probably five years too late, but they had to do it. Strategically, it was the right move, but it’s going to take a long time – I think late-2020s before it bears fruit,” Prada said. “The team was going nowhere, but they dealt from a position of weakness with Beal’s no-trade clause and Porzingis’ option, so they don’t have the runway to turn around quickly. But, it makes sense to move off money now with the new CBA coming in; there may be potential to take on money with first round picks later, which is what I think they’re going for – but the most impressive thing to me is they sold Ted Leonsis on this. We’ll see how it turns out, but I imply they finally found religion and realized they need to tear this thing down and start over.”

As tough of a move as it was in many ways for the Wizards, though, Prada wonders exactly what Phoenix is thinking – because now, thanks to the Durant and Beal trades, they don’t control a single draft pick until 2030, so it’s all or nothing.

“I think it’s a little head-scratch worthy, but they’re pot committed, right? Once you trade all your picks for Durant and the new CBA coming will make it hard for high spenders, you might as well go all in and go for it now,” Prada said. “Like, if they had decided Chris Paul was past his prime and they can’t win with him, what else could they have done other than a move like this to get Beal, who is a depreciated asset because of his contract?”

The problem?

“I’m guessing it won’t work in terms of winning a title, and there will be a lot of pain on the back end,” Prada said. “That’s why the Wizards took those swaps – with the new CBA, if you’re over the second apron line, you can’t trade picks seven years out. It will take at least four years of staying under the apron to get back, so it’s a good bet to short the Phoenix Suns for the long run, because they already made their bed with the Durant trade, so they might as well go gung-ho. It’s not a great fit, but talent is talent.”

Take a listen to Prada’s entire segment above!

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