I have been watching and reading all of the coverage concerning the Wizards recent changes and decided that I would take the time to jot down some of my thoughts. In broad brush-strokes, I am glad that Ernie Grunfeld and the Wizards finally decided to make significant changes. Now in hindsight it is easy to suggest that the Wiz could have probably received more in return IF they would have made changes during the summer and/or earlier in this season (before the wheels fell off). However, I do understand his thinking that with everyone coming back healthy this would be a good year to see if they could recapture what they had a few seasons ago. Sadly, it did not work.
I’ve enjoyed watching Antwan Jamison, Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood and part of me is sad to see them go. I understand the issue that some have with the trades, that it appears that the Wiz – outside of getting below the luxury tax, significant cap space and prospects (primarily in the form of a couple draft picks, Al Thornton and the rights to a Euro player) – did not get equal value. I understand those feelings, but the Wizards were not in a position of strength and each of those players had a little baggage as well – for example Antwan’s age and the size of his existing contract.
The Wizards won 19 games last season and 17 games this season with the players that were traded (or are not currently playing) primarily leading the way, so the idea that they can not live without any of them is a false argument. And in fact, as many have pointed out, the existence of many of the traded players – and the size of their contracts – prevented the Wizards from adding the talent that they were lacking. This fact finally seems to be clear to Ernie and the Wizards brass.
Assuming Gil Arenas is back with the team next season, the Wizards have the ability to go out and add a significant piece or two in free agency, as well as some young talent with their draft picks. If ultimately the Wizards and Arenas part ways, then Washington will have even more cap space, but then the rebuilding process is likely even longer as it might be more difficult to convince two or more key free agents to come to Washington together.
For the remainder of this season I am looking forward to seeing the “Young Guns” prove that they can play in this league, consistently. One of the mistakes that I thought the team made last year, was not by letting them (in particular JaVale) play heavy minutes. The Wizards now have 31 games to determine what they have in the young guys on this squad.