2018–19 Washington Wizards season
The 2018–19 Washington Wizards season was the 58th season of the franchise in the National Basketball Association (NBA) and 46th in the Washington, D.C. area. On March 28, 2019, they were eliminated from playoff contention after the Milwaukee Bucks' victory over the Los Angeles Clippers, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2015-16 and possibly due to star John Wall undergoing a season-ending surgery on his left Achilles. On April 2, the Wizards fired long-standing team president and general manager Ernie Grunfeld.
|2018–19 Washington Wizards season|
|Head coach||Scott Brooks|
|General manager||Ernie Grunfeld (fired)|
Tommy Sheppard (interim)
|Arena||Capital One Arena|
|Place||Division: 4th (Southeast)|
Conference: 11th (Eastern)
|Playoff finish||Did not qualify|
|Television||NBC Sports Washington|
|Radio||Federal News Radio|
106.7 The Fan
- 1 Background
- 2 Draft picks
- 3 Roster
- 4 Standings
- 5 Game log
- 6 Player statistics
- 7 Transactions
- 8 References
Shortly after the Washington Wizards exited the 2018 NBA Playoffs in late April, General Manager Ernie Grunfeld was quietly granted a two-year extension for his incumbent role with the team. In May, Jason Smith exercised his player option to stay with the team. Jodie Meeks also exercised his player option nearly a month later, despite having to serve the remainder of his 25-game suspension in the 2018-19 NBA season for violating the NBA's Anti-Drug Program in April.
The Wizards made several moves over the summer to overhaul their roster. On June 27th, the team traded their starting center Marcin Gortat to the Los Angeles Clippers for Austin Rivers, as both players were entering the final year of the respective contracts and were growing increasingly disgruntled with their teams. The Wizards then boosted their depth by acquiring veterans Thomas Bryant, Jeff Green and Dwight Howard in free agency. Meanwhile, the team chose not to re-sign five players whose contracts had expired and became unrestricted free agents: Mike Scott, Tim Frazier, Ty Lawson, Chris McCullough, and Ramon Sessions.
Unlike in the previous two years, the Wizards did not trade away their picks in the 2018 NBA draft. Instead, they used the draft to acquire two additional players: Troy Brown Jr., a Freshman from Oregon who traditionally played at Small Forward, was acquired with the Wizards' 15th pick in the first round. Issuf Sanon, a Ukrainian Guard, was selected with the team's 44th pick in the second round. Brown later joined the team, while Sanon was chosen as a "draft-and-stash" player, who would be allowed to continue playing with the professional Slovenian basketball team Olimpija Ljubljana while the Wizards retained his draft rights.
Capital City Go-GoEdit
On August 7, 2018, the Wizards unveiled the new management team behind their first ever NBA G League franchise to be directly affiliated with the team, the Capital City Go-Go, as they were set to play their inaugural season in 2018. Pops Mensah-Bonsu was chosen as the Go-Go's General Manager, and Jarell Christian as their Head Coach. The Go-Go also held open tryouts in September to fill the remaining spots on their roster.
The Wizards opened their preseason with an overtime loss to the New York Knicks, 124–121. The game was notable for the combined 83 fouls, resulting in 90 shots, accumulated by both teams over the course of the game. Among those fouls, Markieff Morris was ejected in the second quarter after picking up a second technical foul from a verbal altercation with Knicks rookie Mitchell Robinson.  The Wizards would later go on to win the rest of their matches in the preseason. Meanwhile, Howard stayed out of preseason play entirely, as he dealt with a recurring back injury throughout the preseason, leading to speculation he would miss the team's season opener on October 18.
As the preseason drew to a close, the Wizards made a couple additional personnel changes: On October 15, the team sent Meeks along with a future conditional second-round draft pick to the Milwaukee Bucks in a salary dump, receiving nothing more than the Bucks future conditional second-round draft pick in return. The next day, the team announced that they had hired Washington Mystics player Kristi Toliver as an assistant coach for player development.
October: The Season BeginsEdit
The Wizards opened their season at Capital One Arena against the Miami Heat. McRae was called up to fill the empty roster spot left by Meeks' departure, and Ian Mahinmi was tabbed to start in place of Howard, who was still recovering from his injury. The team ended up losing the match 113–112, thanks to a last-second shot by Kelly Olynyk. The following Saturday against the Toronto Raptors, Bradley Beal broke the Wizards' franchise record for all-time three-point shots made, surpassing Gilbert Arenas who previously held the record.
The team finally got their first win of the regular season in a close matchup with the Portland Trail Blazers on October 22, winning 125–124 in overtime thanks to some exceptional three-point shooting from Morris. However, it would be their only win in October, as the team finished the month with a 1–6 record.
November: Roster Shuffling and Howard's InjuryEdit
Howard continued to be sidelined from his injury, and the Wizards were approaching a deadline to add another active player to their roster before being penalized by the league. The team decided to sign Chasson Randle, who trained with the team in the preseason and was playing with the Go-Go, to a one-year contract. The team then assigned him back to the Go-Go in time for their season opener.  The Wizards would shuffle him back and forth between the first team roster and the Go-Go before officially waiving him two weeks later.
Howard finally got his first start with the Wizards on November 2, getting 20 points in a loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. He would go on to start at Center for nine games, leading the team in rebounding for seven of them, including the team's first winning streak between November 10–14. However, Howard's injury returned and forced him to exit the first half of the November 18 game against Portland that the team would eventually lose. Tempers reportedly flared at a team practice as members of the Wizards blamed each other, the coaching staff, and even Grunfeld for their team's woes.
Coach Scott Brooks announced a change to the starting lineup for the next game against the Los Angeles Clippers, recalling Thomas Bryant from the Go-Go shortly after he had been sent down to get playing time and putting him at the starting Center position while Howard continued to recover. He also moved Otto Porter Jr. to the Power Forward slot and put Kelly Oubre Jr. on the starting lineup in the Small Forward position, sending Morris to the bench. The change started off poorly, as the Wizards were down by 24 at one point during the first half, but the team rallied and pulled off a 125–118 victory.
Shortly after the game, the team sent down Brown to the Go-Go, and signed Okaro White to a one-year contract to avoid being penalized after waiving Randle earlier. The team shuffled White back and forth between the main roster and the Go-Go as needed to give him some playing time. Meanwhile, Brooks largely kept to his new starting lineup, sometimes giving Morris more playing time at Center than Bryant even as Bryant would open the game at that position. It was an arrangement that would continue after Howard announced he would be getting spinal surgery to heal his injury, keeping him sidelined for an additional 2–3 months. Despite being healthy enough to play at Center, Mahinmi's poor performance saw him languish on the bench, collecting DNP-CDs for most of November and December.
December: Desperate Trades and Loss of WallEdit
Despite reports from the previous month that the Wizards were open to any trade offers involving any player on their roster, including their star players, there seemed to be few takers around the league, as even the team's highly skilled players were considered too pricey to touch. However, in December, the team managed to successfully trade away some lower-priced players for relief. On the 7th, the team inserted itself into a three-team trade with the Cavaliers and the Bucks. The team ended up trading away Smith and "cash considerations" to the Bucks and acquired Sam Dekker from the Cavaliers in this trade.
About a week later, the team nearly pulled off another three-team trade involving themselves, the Memphis Grizzlies, and the Phoenix Suns that would see them acquire Trevor Ariza from the Suns in exchange for Austin Rivers, with Oubre going to the Grizzlies for two second round picks. However, the trade fell apart when the Grizzlies did not clarify which of MarShon Brooks or Dillon Brooks would be going to the Suns. Soon after the trade fell through, the Wizards decided to deal with the Suns directly, getting Ariza in exchange for Oubre and Rivers, who was waived by the Suns shortly after the trade was accepted. The Wizards re-signed Randle to the roster from the Go-Go to fill the spot vacated by Rivers after the trade. While the Wizards looked to remain competitive, their playoff contention hopes were dashed on December 29, when it was announced that John Wall was out for the rest of the season due to a chronic Achilles tendon injury relating to Haglund's syndrome.
January/February: Further turmoil and rebuilding tradesEdit
In spite of their hardships relating to the team around this time, which included John Wall's first surgery resulting in an infection, throughout the month of January, the Wizards performed fairly well to acquire an 8–6 record for the month without Wall. However, the Wizards were still looking for moves to help rebuild the team for the future while also trying to see if the playoffs were still possible in the Eastern Conference. On February 5, potential plans for their next season were already hindered without John Wall playing, as it was announced that Wall suffered a ruptured left Achilles tendon injury through slipping and falling down in his home. That injury would hinder his playing time for 12 months. alongside his previous injury leaving him out for the rest of this season. A day later, the Wizards also traded one of their highest paid players, Otto Porter Jr., to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for the expiring contracts of Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis, as well as a protected 2023 second round pick. At the NBA trade deadline on February 7, Washington also traded Markieff Morris and a 2021 second round pick to the New Orleans Pelicans for Wesley Johnson.
|Round||Pick||Player||Position||Nationality||College / Club|
|1||15||Troy Brown Jr.||SF||United States||Oregon (Fr.)|
|2||44||Issuf Sanon||PG||Ukraine||Olimpija Ljubljana|
|2018–19 Washington Wizards roster|
|y – Orlando Magic||42||40||.512||0.0||25–16||17–24||10–6||82|
|1||z – Milwaukee Bucks *||60||22||.732||–||82|
|2||y – Toronto Raptors *||58||24||.707||2.0||82|
|3||x – Philadelphia 76ers||51||31||.622||9.0||82|
|4||x – Boston Celtics||49||33||.598||11.0||82|
|5||x – Indiana Pacers||48||34||.585||12.0||82|
|6||x – Brooklyn Nets||42||40||.512||18.0||82|
|7||y – Orlando Magic *||42||40||.512||18.0||82|
|8||x – Detroit Pistons||41||41||.500||19.0||82|
|15||New York Knicks||17||65||.207||43.0||82|
|2018 preseason game log|
Total: 4–1 (Home: 2–1; Road: 2–0)
Preseason: 4–1 (Home: 2–1; Road: 2–0)
|2018–19 season schedule|
After all games.
‡Waived during the season
†Traded during the season
≠Acquired during the season
|June 27, 2018||To Washington Wizards
|To Los Angeles Clippers|
|October 15, 2018||To Washington Wizards
2020 protected second round pick
|To Milwaukee Bucks|
2020 protected second round pick
|December 7, 2018 ||To Washington Wizards
|To Milwaukee Bucks
2021 second round pick (from Cleveland)
Cash considerations (from Washington)
|To Cleveland Cavaliers|
2021 first and second round picks (from Milwaukee)
|December 15, 2018 ||To Washington Wizards
|To Phoenix Suns|
Kelly Oubre Jr.
|February 6, 2019||To Washington Wizards
||To Chicago Bulls|
|February 7, 2019||To Washington Wizards
||To New Orleans Pelicans|
|Player||Date Signed||Contract||Former Team||Ref.|
|Thomas Bryant||July 2, 2018||2 years, $2,193,857||Los Angeles Lakers|||
|Jeff Green||July 10, 2018||1 year, $2,393,887||Cleveland Cavaliers|||
|Dwight Howard||July 11, 2018||2 years, $10,940,850 (MLE)||Brooklyn Nets[note 1]|||
|Jordan McRae||September 10, 2018||Two-way contract||Saski Baskonia|||
|Chasson Randle||October 30, 2018 [note 2]||1 year, $1,242,652||Capital City Go-Go|||
|Okaro White||November 23, 2018||1 year||Cleveland Cavaliers|||
|Ron Baker||December 21, 2018||1 year||New York Knicks|
|Gary Payton II||January 21, 2019||10-Day Contract||Rio Grande Valley Vipers|
- Howard played with the Charlotte Hornets through 2018, and was officially traded to the Brooklyn Nets on July 6, 2018, but waived later that same day.
- Randle was officially waived by the team on November 12 and rejoined the Go-Go on November 15. However, he officially re-signed with the Wizards on December 18
|Player||Reason Left||Date Left||New Team||Ref.|
|Tim Frazier||UFA||July 1, 2018||New Orleans Pelicans|
|Ty Lawson||UFA||July 1, 2018||Shandong Golden Stars|
|Chris McCullough||UFA||July 1, 2018||Shanxi Brave Dragons|
|Ramon Sessions||UFA||July 1, 2018||Maccabi Tel Aviv|
|Mike Scott||UFA||July 3, 2018||Los Angeles Clippers|||
|Okaro White||Waived||December 21, 2018||Long Island Nets|
|Ron Baker||Waived||January 7, 2019|
- "Scott Brooks vows changes are ahead for Washington Wizards". NBA.com. Retrieved June 17, 2018.
- "Wizards owner Ted Leonsis issues statement on Supreme Court decision to allow legalized sports betting". NBC Sports Washington. May 14, 2018. Retrieved June 17, 2018.
- "Ernie Grunfeld relieved of duties as President of the Washington Wizards". NBA.com. April 2, 2019. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
- Standig, Ben (3 May 2018). "The curious case of Ernie Grunfeld's quiet extension". The Sports Capitol. Retrieved 13 September 2018.
- Hughes, Chase (16 May 2018). "Jason Smith exercises player option to remain with Wizards". NBC Sports Washington. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
- Hughes, Chase (12 June 2018). "Meeks picks up player option to remain with Wizards". NBC Sports Washington.
- "NBA suspends Washington Wizards' Jodie Meeks 25 games | NBA.com". NBA.com. 13 April 2018.
- Rosen, Zach (June 26, 2018). "Wizards acquire Austin Rivers". NBA.com. Retrieved June 26, 2018.
- "Wizards Claim Thomas Bryant off Waivers". NBA.com. July 2, 2018. Retrieved July 3, 2018.
- "Wizards sign Jeff Green". NBA.com. July 10, 2018. Retrieved July 10, 2018.
- "Wizards sign Dwight Howard". NBA.com. July 12, 2018. Retrieved July 12, 2018.
- Hughes, Chase (10 August 2018). "Wizards agree with shooting guard on two-way deal". NBC Sports Washington.
- Raim, Jacob (August 7, 2018). "Capital City Go-Go Name Pops Mensah-Bonsu as GM and Jarell Christian as Head Coach". CapitalCity.GLeague.NBA.com. NBA Media Ventures, LLC. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
- Buckner, Candace (15 September 2018). "Hoop dreamers follow the path to the Go-Go open tryouts". Washington Post.
- Buckner Candace (2 October 2018). "Wizards' preseason opener marred by too many fouls and three-point misses". Washington Post.
- Buckner, Candace (8 October 2018). "Dwight Howard experiences another setback, returns to D.C. for pain-relieving injection". Washington Post.
- "Wizards trade Meeks". NBA.com. October 15, 2018.
- "WNBA All-Star Kristi Toliver hired by Washington Wizards as assistant". NBA. 16 October 2018. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
- Buckner, Candace (18 October 2018). "Old nemesis Kelly Olynyk sinks Wizards again, this time in season opener". Washington Post. Retrieved 19 October 2018.
- Hughes, Chase (20 October 2018). "Bradley Beal sets Wizards/Bullets franchise record for career three-pointers". NBC Sports Washington. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
- Hughes, Chase (23 October 2018). "Five observations from Wizards' 125-124 overtime win over the Blazers". NBC Sports Washington. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
- "Wizards sign Chasson Randle to one-year deal, according to reports". Bullets Forever. SB Nation. 30 October 2018. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
- Washington Wizards. https://twitter.com/WashWizards/status/1057698403856072704. Missing or empty
- Buckner, Candace (19 November 2018). "'I'm sick of this': Wizards' dysfunction boils over into verbal altercations at recent practice". Washington Post. Retrieved 24 November 2018.
- "Howard undergoes spinal surgery, out 2–3 months". NBA. NBA. 30 November 2018. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
- "Ian Mahinmi 2018-19 Game Log". Basketball Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
- Wojnarowski, Adrian (19 November 2018). "Sources: Wall, Beal fair game in Wiz trade talk". ESPN. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
- Standig, Ben (7 December 2018). "Wizards trade Jason Smith for Sam Dekker as part of three-team trade". NBC Sports Washington. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
- Caron, Emily (15 December 2018). "Report: Wizards, Suns agree to new Trevor Ariza deal". SI.com. Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 16 December 2018.
- "Phoenix Suns Waive Austin Rivers". Phoenix Suns. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
- "Wizards sign Chasson Randle, assign Okaro White to Go-Go". Washington Wizards. NBA. 18 December 2018. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
- "John Wall Injury Update". NBA.com. December 29, 2018. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
- "2018-19 Washington Wizards Roster and Regular season Stats". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved July 18, 2019.
- "Bulls to get Otto Porter Jr. from Wizards for Bobby Portis, Jabari Parker". ESPN.com. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
- "Wizards acquire Johnson from Pelicans". Washington Wizards. NBA. 7 February 2019. Retrieved 9 February 2019.
- Kent, Austin (11 September 2018). "Wizards Sign Jordan McRae To Two-Way Deal". Hoops Rumors.
- "Wizards sign Okaro White". Washington Wizards. NBA. 23 November 2018. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
- "Press Release: L.A. Clippers Sign Forward Mike Scott". NBA.com. July 9, 2018. Retrieved July 9, 2018.