The Washington Wizards' year did not start well. After their sinking ship of a season began with a 1-10 record that led to the firing of their previously beloved head coach Eddie Jordan, there wasn't much left for interim leader Ed Tapscott to salvage. As veteran Wizards fans well know, the one thing you can look forward to after a less than stellar season is the NBA Draft. And with our team finishing out the 2008-2009 season with a 19-63 record, after three years we are back to feeling that nervous anticipation for the draft. Well, at least, we were.
The Wizards just finalized a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves sending them the 5th overall pick in this week's draft, Center Etan Thomas and Forwards Darius Songaila and Oleksiy Pecherov. In return the Wizards receive third-year point guard Randy Foye and ninth-year veteran wing forward Mike Miller.
Initially when I looked at this trade from a fan's perspective, I was a little annoyed. Here was the draft only two days away and Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld had to ruin it for me. I had dreams of Steph Curry, Tyreke Evans or maybe even Brandon Jennings running the court with Agent Zero and the rest of the 'Zards in 2010. I thought, "maybe all our team needs is to draft a peppy young point guard." I might have been right but after reevaluating this trade, I've come to like the move.
In this trade the Wizards accomplish several important things. They pawn off several big salary players on the Twolves, which frees up money to put towards signing free agents this summer. This also alleviates the Wizards' of several dead weight players. Though Thomas is a force as a rebounder, the undersized center is injury prone and an offensive liability. As for the foreign forwards, Songaila and Pecherov's shared shooting ability might have been what brought them to the Wizards but would've unlikely been a focal point in Saunders' offense. Pecherov should've known that their can only be one young Eastern European hero in the District and that's occupied by the Great 8.
It's not so often you gain so much by giving away, but now to look at what the Wizards receive. In this trade, the Wizards bring in a talented and proven Randy Foye (16 pts, 4 asts last season) to be Arenas' backcourt companion. Foye's experience at the point could give Arenas a break and let him concentrate on scoring instead of running an offense. Having Foye and Arenas in the backcourt lets Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison stay in their natural positions as Small Forward and Power Forward, respectively. Also acquired is sharpshooter Mike Miller, who can be a threat in any offense and could fit in perfectly coming off the bench.
In making this trade the Wizards are showing that they have faith that Javale McGee, their 18th pick in the 2008 draft, and veteran Brendan Haywood can competitively share minutes at center. It also reiterates the front office's undying trust in the "big three" of Arenas, Butler and Jamison. This was proven last month when Grunfeld allegedly refused trade talks with the Phoenix Suns that involved All Star big man Amar'e Stoudemire, because the Suns wanted Butler in return.
The Wizards' offseason seems to be shaping up pretty nicely when you realize it's only June. If the Wizards can pick up a few role players in the Free Agency with their new found cash and keep all their players healthy, we might be looking pretty good come November when the season starts. I might not have the same Draft anticipation that I had earlier this week, but HEY, I've still got the 32nd pick to look forward to.