Saturday, February 20, 2010

Wizards Deconstruct, Suck Slightly Less

The Wizards finally began the rebuilding process, 2 years too late. Rebuilding is a stretch, because the term implies we actually 'built' something, so I will say 'deconstruct'.

First, I am happy that the Wizards finally moved Jamison and Butler; I have been in support of moving these guys for over a year. Sure we didn't get a lot in return other than salary cap space, still have the corpse of Gilbert Arenas on the roster, and are unlikely to get Lebron, D-Wade, or Bosh, but we had to move these 2 guys. This team wasn't going very far with Butler and Jamison, so we had to rebuild, and it is better to get the process started sooner rather than later. Another benefit of trading the veterans is that JaVale McGee, Andray Blatche, Nick Young and co. can get some serious playing time that will help them develop, and also help the Wizards better evaluate what we have in these young players. The third benefit is that the Wizards need as many ping pong balls in the lottery as possible, and Butler, Jamison, and Haywood were supposedly diminishing that number of ping pong balls, although they could have fooled me this year.

The fourth benefit is that, in addition to clearing cap space, Jamison and Butler could theoretically be traded for young players or draft picks that could jump-start the rebuilding process. We already have a solid core with Ricky Rubio and Dejuan Blair.............well scratch that, but we had to get more than just cap space/relief in return for these guys. The problem with the Wizards deals? We didn't get quite enough for these 2 guys. Tough Juice, in particular, is being paid a very reasonable salary of under $10 million with 2 years left, so should have some legitimate value despite his awful performance this season. It was nice to get rid of Deshawn Stevenson, but that was the price of including Haywood. The problem is that we got back a bunch of guys with expiring contracts, and not one guy who has a lot of upside. Josh Howard is a very good player, and according to Basketball Prospectus's WARP system, similar in value to Caron Butler if you remove Howard's down year last season, but is 29. Couldn't the Wizards have squeezed Rodrigue Beaubois out of the Mavs? If not, then why not find another willing partner - there had to be another interested team that would have at least offered a draft pick. The bright side is that Josh Howard's off-court personality will at least entertain me.

After that moderate fail, the Wiz turned around and made a pretty solid deal for Jamison. Unlike Tough Juice, Cybertawn had an unfriendly contract and seemingly only had 1 team interested in his services; going into the deadline, I was actually more concerned about the Wiz getting value back for Jamison than Butler. Not only did we not take back any long-term salary, but we picked up a late first round pick, and a 26 year old with some upside, Al Thornton. Basketball Prospectus does not see much hope for Thornton becoming a good player, but at least there's a chance.

Overall, I'm extremely happy that the Wiz finally pulled the trigger, but I slam my head into my desk thinking that we should have made these deals a year ago, when Jamison and Butler would have yielded better returns, and we likely would have held our draft picks and could be talking about the Rubio and Blair era. It seems that we got about as much as we could out of Jamison, and it is entirely possible that we also did the best we could for Tough Juice. Both guys gave us some great service, and were, by all accounts, stand up guys, so we should wish them well. As backwards as it sounds, I'll be rooting for the Cavs this Spring, so Cybertawn can win a ring.

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