February 24, 2024

Grading the P.J. Washington trade: Mavericks boost frontcourt, send Grant Williams to Hornets

The Dallas Mavericks are in a battle for playoff contention in the crowded Western Conference. They’re trying to claw their way into the top six to avoid the Play-In Tournament and any potential pitfalls that may find them there. Dallas is trying to correct a mistake from this past summer to make its forward position much more dangerous by moving Grant Williams, Seth Curry and a first-round pick to the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for P.J. Washington. Dallas will also receive two second-round picks.

The Mavs are trying to improve their frontcourt to complement Luka Dončić and Kyrie Irving. Let’s see if they did a good job by throwing down some grades on this trade.

Mavericks acquire P.J. Washington, two second-round picks

This past summer, the Mavericks executed a sign-and-trade deal to acquire Williams on four-year, $53 million deal by giving up Reggie Bullock, a first-round pick swap with San Antonio in 2030 and a 2025 second-round pick swap with Boston. Half a season later, Dallas realized Williams simply isn’t the guy it wanted, so the Mavs are moving him in exchange for a theoretically better version of what Williams can be. Washington isn’t burly like Williams, but he’s sleek and capable of being much more fluid on offense.

Dallas will need Washington to be a much more reliable outside shooter, as he’s struggled to improve that part of his game in recent seasons (33.9 in last two seasons after shooting 37.5 percent from deep in first three). But Washington’s shooting stroke looks good, and getting pinpoint passes from Dončić should help elevate his chances. Washington has really improved his ability to score around the basket and moves pretty well without the ball. The Mavericks get away from the modest (by today’s standards) but long contract of Williams and bring in a declining annual salary structure with Washington. He’s signed through 2025-26, when he’ll make just under $15 million.

This should be an upgrade for the Mavs, but it cost them a first-round pick to correct a questionable summer move.

Grade: B

Hornets acquire Grant Williams, Seth Curry, 2027 first-round pick

Charlotte continues its exodus of this terrible roster. Terry Rozier was moved last month, and Gordon Hayward was moved to OKC earlier in the day. Now, Williams is replacing Washington. The one thing Williams can really do is shoot the ball from outside. He corrected his jumper a few seasons ago, and it’s held steady ever since. Having him as a floor-spacer as a career 37.8 percent 3-point shooter should provide a more reliable target for LaMelo Ball when he’s slinging the ball all over the court.

Curry could be an interesting part of this deal. He’s only signed for $4 million, and he’s under contract for a non-guaranteed $4 million next season. He’s back home in Charlotte for now and could be a good mentor and someone who spaces the floor. Or the Hornets could move him at some point with his deal being so small and versatile.

This deal is more about the first-round pick Charlotte gets. It’s top-two protected, so it will likely convey in 2027. Even if it’s No. 20 overall in the draft, there is usually cost-effective talent for teams to grab there.

Grade: B-

(Top photo: Sam Hodde / Getty Images)