Amongst the hoopla of a star-studded NBA free agent class and big-city markets, the Washington Wizards attempt to position themselves for their own future success. Although we all know who the Wizards will take with the No. 1 overall pick, it seems almost as if people have forgotten about the "Zards" potential in 2010-2011.
You can call this home team bias if you’d like–or you could look at it realistically. As much as we’d love to see the Wizards in the NBA Finals next year, it’s highly unlikely. But, like many other NBA franchises, this summer will alter this team’s future for years to come.
On June 24, the Wizards will have three selections in the 2010 NBA Draft. In addition to the first overall selection, the Wizards also have the 30th-overall (First Round) and the 35th-overall pick (Second Round). With a number of different potential routes, here’s a possibility...
First Selection (No. 1): John Wall (6’4/196, PG, Fr.)–This freshman phenom will only add to the thrill that is flooding the D.C. sports scene. We have Ovechkin with the Caps, Strasburg with the Nats, McNabb with the ‘Skins, and now add Wall with the Wiz.
Not only does the team need a point guard, Wall is a player with immense talent and the potential to play for a long time. Wall has already injected the District with excitement and he can become this team’s savior.
Second Selection (No. 30): Damion James (6’7/227, SF, Sr.)–He may have surprised some scouts when he opted to return to Texas for his senior season, but it didn’t necessarily hurt his stock. James is an athletic player without a solidified position. But regardless of where he’s inserted in the lineup, James is a quick and scrappy rebounding machine. The Wizards could use his athleticism off the bench in his rookie season and he could work extremely well with John Wall running the show.
Third Selection (No. 35): Greivis Vasquez (6’6/211, PG/SG, Sr.)–For reasons other than drafting a hometown favorite and potentially boosting ticket sales, Greivis Vasquez can bring versatility and passion to the Washington Wizards. New owner Ted Leonsis has expressed his liking for Vasquez’s play and he has already visited the team for a workout.
Vasquez can handle the ball well enough to run the point and he has the size to play shooting guard as well. When you think about what Vasquez brings to the floor and what he could possibly bring in at the ticket office–this pick may be the steal of the second round.
Fortunately for the Wizards, team president Ernie Grunfeld has done a decent job of creating cap space for the summer of 2010. With only SIX actual players set to be on the roster, the Wizards have plenty of space to make some major splashes in July. And if they could somehow find a way to ship off the gun-toting Gilbert Arenas, the team would be in an even greater spot.
Here’s a quick look at the Wizards’ books, which includes each player’s vitals and their cap hit for the 2010-11 season (salaries rounded to nearest million)...
•Gilbert Arenas (6’3/191, PG, Age: 28) Cap Hit: $18,000,000.00
•Randy Foye (6’4/220, PG, Age: 27) Cap Hit: $5,000,000.00 (Q. Offer)
•Andray Blatche (6’11/235, PF, Age: 24) Cap Hit: $3,000,000.00
•Al Thornton (6’7/221, SF, Age: 27) Cap Hit: $3,000,000.00
•Nick Young (6’6/200, SG, Age: 25) Cap Hit: $3,000,000.00
•JaVale McGee (7’0/237, C, Age: 22) Cap Hit: $2,000,000.00
•Quinton Ross (6’6/193, SG, Age: 29) Cap Hit: $1,000,000.00 (P. Option)
•John Wall (6’4/196, PG, Age: 20) Cap Hit: $4,000,000.00 *
•Damion James (6’7/227, SF, Age: 23) Cap Hit: $1,000,000.00 *
•Greivis Vasquez (6’6/211, PG/SG, Age: 23) Cap Hit: $750,000.00 *
*(potential draft picks with estimated salary via rookie salary scale)
Total Cap Hit for 2010-11 (including potential draft selections) = $40,750,000.00
With an expected salary cap of $53 million for the 2010-2011 NBA season, the Wizards could potentially have about $12,000,000 in free cap space (not to mention luxury tax rules). That’s enough to make some moves...
The chances of the Wizards actually moving Gilbert Arenas are slim, but sources indicate a few teams that may be interested in a possible trade. Let the rumors begin...
Even being a complete NON-fan of Gilbert Arenas, I understand that the current situation could be much worse-at least Gilbert can still play and be somewhat productive. But I think the most important reason to move Gilbert Arenas now, is to eliminate any potential distractions for when the REAL savior of D.C. enters: John Wall.
There’s no reason to believe that Gilbert no longer thinks the Wizards are his team, but the truth of the matter is that Gilbert is old news. He may have once been the face of D.C. basketball, now he’s an embarrassment. The incoming John Wall will become the leader of a relatively young team and there will only be enough room for one nucleus in the Washington Wizards organization.
With that being said, I have created a trade that appears to please all parties. Keeping in mind that the NBA is all about contracts, dealing Gilbert Arenas’ hefty payroll is not an easy task.
In a potential three-team trade...
Toronto receives Gilbert Arenas; gaining the scorer and the attractive lure in an attempt to keep Chris Bosh.
Sacramento receives Hedo Turkoglu; gaining the lengthy scorer that wants to return to Sac-Town.
Washington receives Reggie Evans (TOR) and Andres Nocioni (SAC); gaining a rebounding power forward to come off the bench and a decently sized small forward who could also play at shooting guard in big lineups.
We all know that the free agent market is rich with talent and, as Wizards fans, we understand that we’re not going to land King James, Dwyane Wade, or Joe Johnson. But if you look just beyond the large names, there are plenty of other players out there that can come in and become crucial pieces to the Wizards’ puzzle.
Let’s take a look at some possibilities...
•Chris Bosh–Although highly unlikely, CB4 is actually a possibility. With recent rumors of a “Summit of the Stars," Bosh will likely holdout to see what LeBron James and Dwyane Wade decide to do. Likely suitors for Bosh include Miami, Chicago, Dallas, and the LA Clippers. However, Washington could provide a large market for Bosh and he would give the Wizards their best low-post option in quite some time.
•Carlos Boozer–Teaming up Carlos Boozer with General John Wall would be exciting, no doubt about it. The problem is that Boozer plays limited defense and the Wizards cannot afford that. Boozer is a beast on the boards but he’s also approaching 30, causing the "Zards" front office to probably choose another route.
•Brendan Haywood–Consider me to be "on the wagon." Many people overlooked the true importance of Brendan Haywood when he was in D.C. and he was often thrown to the dogs. Haywood is a legitimate seven-footer with blocking ability and a pure defensive presence. Even with Haywood’s age (31), his polished offensive skills over the past couple of years make him a decent option this summer. But don’t think this will be easy, other teams will be vying for Haywood’s services.
•David Lee–Maybe a little forgotten after playing his whole career with the irrelevant New York Knicks, David Lee is a tremendous talent. He’s a 29-year-old 6’9 big man with great athleticism and rebounding skills. The only current power forward on the team is the hybrid-like Andray Blatche. David Lee would present the team with a natural power forward and one hell of a player. Lee will be in VERY high demand.
•Amare Stoudemire–It would be nice, but definitely not happening. I don’t think Amare has any interest in coming to D.C. and everything points to him re-signing in Phoenix. With a nice mix of offensive explosiveness and rebounding ability, Amare in a ‘Zards uniform is a dreamy thought.
•Rudy Gay–Believe it or not, this signing has some serious probability. Not only is Rudy a Maryland-native, but the chance to team-up with John Wall has to have him taking a look at D.C. real estate. Although the Grizzlies can match any offer sheet that he signs, Rudy is still likely to play elsewhere next season. Picture it: opponents trying to bring down the “Gay Wall” for the next 10-12 years...
With all of my moves in place, the Washington Wizards would appear to be a reasonable team in the Eastern Conference. I wouldn’t really call this “blowing up” the team, simply because the team has just six players under contract to begin with. Instead, these can be looked at as a series of potential front office moves that help the franchise in both the long-term and short-term.
Ladies and gentlemen, introducing your 2010-2011 Washington Wizards...
PG – John Wall / Randy Foye / Greivis Vasquez (r)
SG – Nick Young / Andres Nocioni / Greivis Vasquez (r)
SF – Rudy Gay / Al Thornton / Damion James (r)
PF – Andray Blatche / Reggie Evans
C – Brendan Haywood / JaVale McGee
Obviously, guessing all of these things to play-out exactly how I have them is not going to happen. The point of the "project" is to show that the Wizards can be a player in this summer’s sweepstakes and that they have the potential to make some progress next season... without Gilbert Arenas.