Sports cliches are in fact "cliches" because they're used often and because there is often a degree of truth to them.
Surely you've heard of "addition by subtraction?"
Apparently, the Washington Wizards have as well.
How else could one explain the trade the Wizards made yesterday in which the team added an aging and injury-prone big man signed to a long-term contract and subtracted two talented young players?
It's not as if the Wizards are in the hunt for a ring this season. The Wizards aren't even in the playoff hunt—not even close. They're a woeful 10-32 and there's simply no reason to make any trade that betters the team for this season without also making the team more competitive in the upcoming seasons.
That's what the deal did, for the most part.
There is one key aspect of the deal that does in fact make sense for Washington.
The Wizards had the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. With that pick, they chose John Wall, an athletically gifted young point guard who left Kentucky after an impressive freshman season to pursue his NBA dreams.
Those dreams probably didn't include playing on teams that annually finish near the bottom of the league standings. They also may not have included playing with teammates who aren't always as focused on competing as he is.
Nick Young and JaVale McGee are both very talented basketball players. Both were also young and possessed qualities that made them not necessarily the best teammates to pair with Wall, who is naturally as young and immature at times as any 21-year-old would be.
Young is a solid offensive player who has tons of athletic skill, but is not always as committed on the defensive end of the court as one would want him to be.
McGee has become something of a YouTube sensation this season by virtue of his occasional inexplicable on-court mental errors.
Both players are talented for sure, but Wall is the player the Wizards have correctly chosen to build around. With that focus in mind, the Wizards decided to deal both Young and McGee. Young is not a big loss for the team. On the one hand, he costs them some depth, but on the other hand, his departure clears the way for Jordan Crawford to take over the shooting guard position full-time.
Is Crawford destined for stardom at that position? Maybe, but it's impossible to find out when he's only able to play an average of 25.4 minutes a game and has spent most of the season coming off the bench.
Clearing out Young for Crawford not only allows the Wizards to properly assess Crawford's value, but it keeps a decent scorer on the court opposite Wall for him to pass the ball to.
McGee's absence in exchange for Nene will make the Wizards a better team through the end of this season at the very least. This of course assumes that Nene stays healthy, but if that's the case, Nene will play with more consistency than McGee and bring a noticeable increase in on-court professionalism as well.
In three or four years, JaVale McGee may very well be a much better option in the middle than Nene, but the Wizards don't have three or four years to show John Wall that they're committed to surrounding him with players who are committed to winning. That commitment needs to be made as soon as possible and yesterday's trade was a good step in the right direction.