Washington Wizards: Trading Glibert Arenas and Other Franchise Savers

Matthew Brown@mlb923Correspondent IDecember 21, 2009

PHOENIX - DECEMBER 19:  Gilbert Arenas #0 of the Washington Wizards reacts during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on December 19, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Wizards 121-95. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Washington Wizards have started the season at a disappointing 8-17 and have failed to live up to anyone's expectations despite the overall health of all of their key players.

Something needs to change in Washington, so why not some of the faces?

The Wizards have reached the playoffs four times in the last five seasons, but are coming off an ugly 19-63 year. They were without Brendan Haywood and Gilbert Arenas for most of last season, but that hardly serves as an excuse. Good teams find ways to win without their stars.

The Wizards are not a good team.

While they have reached the playoffs in recent years, the Wizards have failed to make it past the first round more than once. In 2004-2005, the team beat the Chicago Bulls in the first round, but were swept in the second by the Miami Heat. Good teams don't get swept in the playoffs.

Following the second round sweeping at the hands of the Heat, the Wizards made an effort to improve themselves by trading away Laron Profit and Kwame Brown to bring in Caron Butler. The move sent away the biggest bust to ever don a Wizards jersey, and brought in the most underrated small forward in the game today.

Butler didn't put the team over the top, though.

The Wizards made the playoffs the following three seasons, but lost to the Cavaliers in the first round each time. They had to do without Butler and Gilbert Arenas for their 2006-2007 playoff run because Butler suffered a broken hand and Arenas suffered his knee injury.

It is understandable that the Wizards want to maintain a level of continuity on the roster because Antawn Jamison, Butler and Arenas have done a lot to revive the franchise from the dark days of the early 90s to the early 00s.

But the revival has fallen short of an NBA championship with the majority of the players on the roster right now.

Brendan Haywood is playing the best basketball of his career, but he isn't an explosive center. Jamison is solid in the twilight of his career, but clearly isn't the long-term answer as an undersized power forward. Arenas has played less than 82 games over the last three years.

The Wizards are not built to win now. They were built to win four years ago.

Roster overhauls are rarely the solution to any team's winning woes, but the Wizards are a prime example of a team going nowhere fast. Sure, they'll give you a 40-44 win season now and again, but their track record shows they aren't cut out to compete with the best the Eastern Conference has to offer.

They have had one close games against Boston this season, and countless others against middle of the pack teams of the East, but they haven't been able to win many of the close ones.

They were in the midst of a five-game losing streak before they went on a spree against the Golden State Warriors. Arenas had 45 points and 13 assists, Butler had 28 points and 10 rebounds, Jamison had 10 points and 10 rebounds, and Haywood had 15 points and 12 rebounds.

Was the win a sign that the Wizards are turning a corner and destined to make a run to the playoffs?

No. The Wizards managed to beat the Warriors 118-109. There is nothing impressive about a nine point win over a team that has a record as bad as your own. The Wizards should have won over the Warriors, and luckily, they did.

But what happened the very next night when they faced an upper echelon team from the Western Conference in the Phoenix Suns? A 26-point blowout.

You can make the excuse that the Wizards were fatigued because of the back to back road games, but good teams don't let the rigors of the schedule beat them instead of the other team. It is okay to lose now and then, especially on a back to back schedule, but to lose by almost 30 is absurd.

In light of the Wizards poor start to the season, and history of coming up short in the playoffs, I think it is high time the front office made an effort to start anew.

Blow it up.

Arenas just signed and hefty $111 million deal, and Jamison signed a $50 million. Given the amount Arenas is owed and the age Jamison is showing, neither of them will be an easy move. But just because it isn't easy doesn't mean it can't be done.

Nate Robinson of the New York Knicks has found his onto head coach Mike D'Antoni's naughty list, and is lamenting his stint on the bench. He is young, talented and energetic.

None of which describe many of the players on the Wizards roster.

The Knicks are prepping their roster for the future signing of LeBron James come next summer, and probably wouldn't mind dumping some players. Jamison would give the team a much needed veteran presence, and could be a great teammate for the incoming James.

He may cost more than the Knicks want to pay, but the Knicks are hardly dumb enough to think LeBron alone is going to make them playoff contenders. Right?

Robinson has scoring ability and is a bonafide play-maker at the position. He can score, but isn't going to be the primary threat at the position. He just makes the most of his opportunities.

He could run the point and the Wizards could move Randy Foye back to the two spot where he has experience, having him split time with Nick Young.

Bringing him in and shipping Jamison out would leave some cap space to work with, as Robinson only has a one-year contract right now. The Wizards could bring him in for the season and decide whether or not he is worth re-signing.

It would hardly be a one-for-one deal, because Jamison holds more value because of his long history of production. The Wizards could lobby for a first rounder, since the Knicks hardly have use for it with their strong intentions to sign LeBron.

The best trade bait the Wizards have right now is Butler, who is young, but proven at the small forward position. He is respected around the league and could bring a good deal in on reputation alone. He isn't nicknamed Tuff Juice for nothing.

But who would be the best team to solicit a trade from?

Package him, with Haywood and make an offer to the New Orleans Hornets for Emeka Okafor and Julian Wright. No, it isn't an very fair trade from the Wizards' side, but it gets rid of two big contracts. Wright and Okafor aren't long-term answers to the problems in Washington, but the cap room the trade would free up is nothing to scoff at.

The coup de gras for the Wizards would be finding a taker for Arenas and his hefty hundred million dollar price tag.

The solution is to put him on the trading block and take just about anything that anyone offers. At this point, he is worth about as much as he ever will in the future. He can be a good player for any team in the NBA, but building him up as the future of the Wizards has not worked out.

The Toronto Raptors could provide a good home for Arenas, as they don't have a dynamic point guard on the roster. Jarrett Jack isn't terrible and Jose Calderon is a good stop-gap guard, but Arenas would be an upgrade.

Going to the Raptors would allow Arenas to evolve even further, as he claims he already has, and defer scoring to his teammates

Chris Bosh, Andrea Bargnani and Hedo Turkoglu are great scorers which means Arenas wouldn't have to shoulder the scoring load as he has mentioned on numerous occasions in Washington.

The simplest move to make is getting rid of DeShawn Stevenson for being a waste of space and more money than he's worth. Cut him, trade him for a second round pick, something, anything. I don't want to see him disgrace the Verizon Center and the Wizards uniform with his poor play and unprofessional antics anymore.

Granted, these moves are not the greatest, nor are they likely. But the fact remains that the Wizards are not going to be in title contention for a long time as they are now.

There are plenty of young players on this roster hungry for a chance to play, so why not let them have it? It isn't like the names in front of them are getting anywhere special.


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