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PJ Washington brings athleticism and versatility to the Maverick frontcourt

Dallas took a big swing by adding the 6’7” forward

Charlotte Hornets v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Sam Hodde/Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks acquired forward PJ Washington (along with two unspecified second-round picks) from the Charlotte Hornets for Grant Williams, Seth Curry, and a top-two protected 2027 first-round draft pick. Washington had been linked to Dallas since the 2023 offseason, and rumors surrounding him had been heating up in the days preceding the trade deadline. The Mavericks, desperate for an upgrade at the wing, made a big splash with this acquisition.

Washington stands at either 6’7” or 6’8”, depending on who you ask, with a 7’2” wingspan. Though he might be a tad undersized for a power forward, he’s still a huge upgrade in that department from the vertically challenged Grant Williams. His length, in particular, will be very helpful for Dallas.

After a career season in 2022-2023 that saw him average 15.7 points per game, Washington took a step back with the Hornets this year. Stuck behind a group of talented Hornet forwards, Washington was relegated to mostly bench duty and has struggled a bit shooting the ball (32.4% from three). His season averages of 13.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.6 steals + blocks don’t jump off the page, but I believe he’s capable of more than that.

Washington is a bit of a jack-of-all-trades player: he’s an average shooter, he can attack a closeout and finish at the rim, he has decent passing ability, and he can guard multiple positions on defense. His athleticism is very impressive, and I’m excited to see what he can do sharing the floor with Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving. It’s a bit of a cliche, but the one word that comes to mind when analyzing PJ Washington is versatility; he gives the Mavericks a lot of options. He can act as both a ball handler and screener in the pick and roll, and he can perform both tasks effectively. If Dallas wants to go small, he can moonlight at the center position. He can competently switch on defense and hold his own in a drop, as well. All in all, there are a lot of roles he can potentially slide into. It’s up to the Mavericks to figure out what the optimal ones are.

From an asset management perspective, I have some reservations about this deal. Sending out the 2027 first-rounder hurts a bit, as Dallas can now only (potentially) trade two firsts this summer. And since they had to give up an unprotected 2030 pick swap to acquire Grant Williams, they essentially gave up the 2027 first and a pick swap for PJ Washington. That is undeniably an overpay. But, I’m glad that the Mavericks were able to keep Josh Green, a player who is apparently valued around the league, and retained additional second-rounders in the deal. And this move, coupled with the Gafford deal, undeniably makes Dallas a significantly better basketball team right now.

Washington is still just 25 years old, and it was apparent that the situation in Charlotte was not an ideal one for him to prosper. He’s the kind of player an asset-strapped team like the Mavericks should be targeting. The cost wasn’t cheap, but I think there’s a high degree of probability that Washington flourishes here. And his contract is a steal, too, descending for the next two seasons at an AAV of about $15 million. Overall, this was good business for Dallas. It’s exciting to see that the front office has a vision and is taking steps towards executing it.

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