How To Save the Washington Wizards

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How To Save the Washington Wizards
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Nine Washington Wizards will hit the free-agent market this summer. Yes, that’s right, over half of the Wizards' total roster could be playing somewhere else in the 2010-2011 season. With Washington’s record over ten games below .500, why not take advantage of this unique financial opportunity while the time is ripe? Here’s what the Wiz should do before and after the trade deadline:

 

1. Trade Antawn Jamison

Antawn has been 100 percent committed to Washington and would never publicly admit that he wants out, but c’mon, the dude is 33 and playing on the most immature team in the NBA. Washington could get some extremely valuable collateral in return for Jamison. Here are some potential trades:

 

  • J.J. Hickson, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and a first-round pick for Antawn Jamison. Cavs get a legitimate second-option to go with Mo Williams, Shaq, and that LeBron James guy. If they want to win a title now, they give up J.J. Hickson. The Wizards get a young, promising forward, a late first-round pick, and most importantly, big Z’s expiring contract. 
  • Brad Miller and Tyrus Thomas for DeShawn Stevenson and Antawn Jamison. While this is more unlikely because Chicago is eyeing the free-agent market in the summer, a few big names getting traded at the deadline (like Chris Bosh) could sent the Bulls into a panic to make a deal now. Enter the Wizards. Washington gives Chicago an offensive option that Derrick Rose sorely needs, and Stevenson will get cut at the end of the year. The Wizards get two expiring contracts and could keep Thomas around if he shows potential. 
  • Udonis Haslem, Dorell Wright, and a first-round pick for Antawn Jamison. Same premise as the Bulls trade. If D-Wade starts grumbling about getting no help, and Miami needs to make a panic move, this one makes sense for both sides. Haslem and Wright are expiring contracts.

 

2. Find a Team Struggling Financially or in Need of a Position Player

Ship some expiring contracts for young talent—Washington has Mike Miller making nearly ten million, Brendan Haywood six million, Mike James six and a half million, and all of them will hit free agency this summer. Two of those guys could also provide major help to contenders, or teams looking to add pieces. Below I’ve listed youngsters for the Wizards to target, and a potential three-way deal:

 

  • D.J. Augustin and/or Raymond Felton—Larry Brown hates everyone on his team, so either guy is accessible. 
  • Tyrus Thomas—Call me crazy, but I still think he’s going to be a great player. 
  • J.J. Hickson—Young, athletic big man. 
  • Austin Daye—Detroit loves its forwards, especially Jonas Jerebko, but for an expiring contract or two, anything is possible. 
  • Roy Hibbert—Indiana is bleeding money with one good player on its roster. Hibbert would be a great complement to McGee at the five. 
  • Joe Alexander and/or Ersan Ilyasova—Alexander has largely been a disappointment so far, but can still jump out of the gym and has been hampered by injuries. Ilyasova has been one of the biggest surprises in the NBA. 
  • Devin Harris—There are already people complaining that Harris isn’t the right man to lead the Nets, and he’s got a pretty hefty four-year deal remaining. With Brook Lopez playing so well, and the Nets certainly eyeing John Wall in the draft, it would be hard to believe that they wouldn’t consider Harris for Mike Miller’s expiring deal and future draft picks. The Nets would gain nine million dollars to use for free agents this summer. 
  • Wilson Chandler and/or Danilo Gallinari—The Knicks are trying to create a super-team of players with one year left on their contract, so who knows, maybe they’d be dumb enough to trade their only talented youngsters away. 
  • Rodrigue Beaubois—Has a bright future ahead of him. If the Mavs go into win-now mode, Josh Howard and Beaubois for Jamison is possible. 
  • Marc Gasol—Hey, it’s Chris Wallace, might as well make the phone call. 
  • Kevin Martin—The Kings love the chemistry their young guys had when Martin was out of the lineup. With Tyreke Evans, Beno Udrih, and Omri Casspi playing well, why keep Martin around? He makes ten million a year for four more years, and if he gets shipped to Washington for Mike Miller and future draft picks, the Kings would have an insane amount of cap space this summer. The Wizards would get a new number one scorer, and he’s 26 to boot.   

 

3. Now Here’s That Three-Team Trade:

Washington acquires Jerryd Bayless, Joel Przybilla from Portland. Portland acquires Brendan Haywood from Washington, Udonis Haslem from Miami. Miami acquires Steve Blake from Portland, Deshawn Stevenson from Washington, and a future first-round pick from Portland.

Note that this trade would only be worth it for Washington if the Wizards could trade Antawn Jamison for expiring contracts as well. If that were to occur, this makes perfect sense for all three teams.

The Wizards get a very raw but talented 21-year-old point guard, and grin-and-bear-it Joel Przybilla knows he’s only around for one more season after this year.

The Blazers get two legitimate big men, which is huge because they are currently starting Juwan Howard at center (that’s not a typo). Even better, Haywood and Haslem are free agents this summer, and are worth a combined 13 million dollars.

The Heat get two expiring contracts for the price of Haslem, but add some much- needed veteran leadership and upgrade at point guard with Steve Blake. That extra first-round pick would be nice too, and Portland wouldn’t mind giving up a 20-something selection in exchange for big men and extra cash in the offseason.

 

4. Hire the Best Lawyer in America, and Figure Out a Way to Void Arenas' Contract

Obviously this is no easy challenge. Latrell Sprewell chocked his coach, and the Warriors couldn’t get rid of him. Gilbert has played his last game in Washington (see my article about that here) regardless of whether the NBA reinstates him, so if Washington can find a way to get out of his mammoth 111 million dollar contract at the same time, just think of the possibilities for the future. All that freed up money can go directly into free agency. By the way, here's David Letterman's explanation as to why Gilbert Arenas decided to pull his "practical joke."

 

5. Hope and Pray Washington Ends Up with the First Pick in the NBA Draft

John Wall would be a nice replacement for Gilbert Arenas, dontcha’ think? Plus, Washington deserves some luck after going from number two to number five in last year’s draft order. I would say it’s the Clippers fault for knocking D.C. out of the top three picks, but Blake Griffin has played as many games as Ricky Rubio.

Oh, and while we’re at it, here’s what Washington should not do:

1. Do NOT trade Caron Butler or Javale McGee

You’ve got to base the team around someone, and that someone could be Butler. He’s 29, in his prime, scores 20 points a game, and plays great defense. Even if he isn’t a number one offensive option, he’s a great wingman to any scorer. McGee is still incredibly raw, but in two or three years, watch out. He’s got Marcus Camby-esque skills.

 

2. Do NOT Pull a Chris Wallace and Trade Your Best Available Player

In this case, Antawn Jamisonfor basically nothing and Marc Gasol—Hopefully Ernie Grunfeld isn’t planning on stooping to Chris Wallace’s idea of making another pretty good team a championship contender for the next five years. If he trades with Cleveland, at least get some value.

 

3. Do NOT Trade Randy Foye

He’s played well with starters minutes. I know his deal is up after the season, but he deserves to come back.

 

4. Do NOT Trade Any High Draft Picks

Hopefully after losing out on Ricky Rubio and DeJuan Blair for two guys that might not even come back next year, Ernie Grunfeld learned his lesson. Keep. The. Draft. Pick. Heck, stock up on first-round selections at the trading deadline, so if Grunfeld gets especially antsy, he can deal a few away and leave enough for Washington to salvage some young talent.

So there you have it folks, the dos and don'ts for the Washington Wizards. I know Wizards Nation is still mourning the loss of Agent Zero, but it’s time to move on and rebuild as fast as possible. Ernie Grunfeld needs to redeem himself for failing to assemble a successful “big three” team.

In the weak Eastern Conference, a few basketball savvy moves could project the Wizards into the playoffs next season. One thing is for certain: Washington fans will be watching with anticipation in the days leading up to the trade deadline, and they will not accept more failures. 

 

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