The Washington Wizards began this offseason with a new front office and uncertainty in what direction the team would move in with some of its star players.
Yet, under new team president Michael Winger and general manager Will Dawkins, Washington has been one of the busier teams, making key trades and acquiring several assets that suggest the Wizards are electing to rebuild for the future.
Washington came into Thursday’s NBA Draft with the No. 8 overall pick. That changed after the Wizards moved up, swapping with the Indiana Pacers for French forward Bilal Coulibaly at the No. 7 pick. Washington had taken Houston forward Jarace Walker before the trade.
As a result of the trade, the Wizards also sent two 2028 first-round picks to the Pacers.
Coulibaly played for Metropolitans 92 in France this past season, averaging five points, 3.1 rebounds, and 0.8 assists in 27 games for its senior team. The 18-year-old small forward is also a former teammate of Victor Wembanyama, who was selected first overall by the San Antonio Spurs.
“Bilal brings energy and ability on both sides of the floor, and we see his trajectory continuing to trend upward as his play catches up to his elite physical attributes,” said Dawkins.
Washington then selected 20-year-old Serbian big man Tristan Vukcevic of KK Partizan Belgrade in the second round with the 42nd pick.
Born in Italy to parents from Sweden and Serbia, Vukcevic played for Real Madrid in the Spanish ACB before playing in Serbia for Partizan Belgrade this past season. Vukcevic averaged 8.1 points and 3.2 rebounds in 14.3 minutes per game in 22 league games.
“Tristan has experience competing against some of the best competition in the world,” Dawkins said. “He has proven himself overseas to be an efficient big that can pass and shoot.”
Washington had selected Indiana forward Trayce Jackson-Davis with the 57th pick, but he was promptly traded to the Golden State Warriors for cash considerations.
It was the end of a busy week for Washington, which began with moving veteran guard Bradley Beal to the Phoenix Suns. Beal became a franchise player for Washington, playing all 11 seasons of his career in D.C.
Beal leaves as the franchise’s all-time leader in 3-pointers made (1,514) while ranking second in total points (15,391) and steals (772). He also finishes in the top five in minutes played, assists and free throws with averages of 22.1 points, 4.3 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game during his 11 seasons with the Wizards. Beal earned three All-Star selections and was named All-NBA Third Team in 2020-21.
“Bradley leaves a legacy and impact that will continue to be felt by those he helped during the 11 seasons we watched him develop into a cornerstone of our on-court and off-court efforts,” Monumental Sports & Entertainment Founder and CEO Ted Leonsis said in a statement.
The Wizards also traded away Kristaps Porzingis to the Boston Celtics and both Jordan Goodwin and Isaiah Todd to the Suns.
On the receiving end of the Beal and Porzingis trades, Washington acquired Tyus Jones, Jordan Poole, Danilo Gallinari, Landry Shamet, Mike Muscala, Ryan Rollins and Patrick Baldwin, Jr. The Wizards also received multiple future draft picks from the Suns, Warriors and Chicago Bulls.
Feature photo by Michael R. Smith/The Sports Pulse.