WASHINGTON — — Long after what might have been his last — or second-to-last — practice as a member of the Washington Wizards, Jordan Crawford hardly looked like a man worried about his future or prepared to distance himself from his teammates.
Engaged in a shooting contest with Bradley Beal, A.J. Price, Chris Singleton, Garrett Temple and Cartier Martin, Crawford giggled and talked trash as the players attempted long jumpers near center court.
But as he headed to the locker room, Crawford blew past reporters, ignoring requests to speak to him, likely aware that the line of questioning would revolve around his diminished role and the possibility that he will be dealt by today's 3 p.m. trade deadline.
The most dreaded — and anticipated — day of the regular season has arrived, and with it teams looking to add a possible piece for a postseason run, surrender postseason hopes to begin rebuilding efforts, or simply dump undesirable contracts to avoid the stiffer penalties for exceeding the salary cap. Though the Wizards (15-37) have won 11 of their past 20 games, coach Randy Wittman said the team isn't necessarily in position to stand pat.
"We're not Miami. We're not Oklahoma City, where you're pretty set. Teams like ourselves, we're always looking. We still need to continue to build and improve this team," Wittman said. "So for a team like us, we're probably looking or listening."
Two of the largest blockbuster deals have already been completed this season, with Oklahoma City trading James Harden to Houston and Memphis shipping Rudy Gay (Archbishop Spalding) to Toronto. Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith is perhaps the biggest-name talent that could be acquired in a deal, with the 6-foot-9 forward becoming an unrestricted free agent this summer and seeking a maximum salary deal.
The Wizards have made inquiries about Smith, whose athleticism, versatility and defensive skill are a possible mesh for an uptempo team led by former No. 1 overall pick John Wall.
In each of the past three seasons, the Wizards have been among the league's most active teams at the deadline. They shipped Antawn Jamison to Cleveland and Brendan Haywood, Caron Butler and DeShawn Stevenson to Dallas in 2010 in two deals that yielded Josh Howard, spare parts and draft picks.
Kirk Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong were traded in 2011 to Atlanta for Crawford, Mike Bibby, Maurice Evans and the draft pick that turned out to be Singleton. And, in a stunning deal last March, the Wizards traded JaVale McGee, Nick Young and Ronny Turiaf in a three-team deal that landed Nene.
Wall, Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin, the Wizards' draft picks in 2010, are the longest-tenured players on the team, which has undergone a major overhaul since Ted Leonsis purchased the team from the Pollin family. Wall, Beal — last year's third overall selection — and Nene are the only untouchables on the Wizards' roster, but the team is open to making a deal involving the other 11 players.
Crawford is the most likely candidate to get moved, since the third-year reserve shooting guard doesn't appear to be in the Wizards' current or future plans with Wall back after a three-month, injury-related layoff and Beal beginning to play at a higher level.
Wittman recently benched Crawford, and he hasn't handled his latest demotion well. After not playing for the fourth consecutive game — a 96-88 loss to the Toronto Raptors — on Tuesday, Crawford tossed his jersey and warm-up shirt into the stands in disgust.
The Wizards have fielded calls from teams around the league interested in acquiring a player who provides scoring punch at a relatively low price. Crawford was the Wizards' leading scorer until last month and averaged 19.1 points, 6.1 assists and 5.1 rebounds in December, but the team went 3-11 during that stretch as injuries sidelined Price and Trevor Ariza. He has appeared in only four games this month, averaging just 4.3 points.
"He's like any of our other 14 guys. He's got to stay with it. His opportunity is going to come again," Wittman said of Crawford.
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