This, quite simply, is a money-saving move by the Wizards. Both Morris and Johnson will be unrestricted free agents at the end of the season, but Johnson makes slightly less money, which will get the Wizards under the luxury tax threshold for this season. The future second-round pick was basically the cost of doing business there.
Following the news that John Wall has suffered a torn Achilles tendon and won’t return for at least 12 months — and might never be the same once he returns — the Wizards have clearly decided to tear things down. Porter is already gone, and there’s simply no reason for them to hold on to Morris for the rest of the season. Veterans like Trevor Ariza and Jeff Green could soon be on their way out as well.
As for the Pelicans, they basically bought a second-round pick for a couple million bucks — the difference between Morris and Johnson’s salary for the remainder of the season. In other circumstances, Morris could have been a nice pickup for the playoff push, but the Pels are six games out now, and mired in Anthony Davis trade drama.
Speaking of which, there’s definitely some humor in the Pelicans trading for a member of the Klutch family given everything that’s going on. Klutch Sports Group, the agency that represents Morris, is the very same one run by Rich Paul — LeBron James and Anthony Davis’ agent.