Ernie Grunfeld somehow did it again. He traded the untradeable. This is the second immovable object he has found a way to shove to another city. Respect him for that. Disrespect him for what he received and what it means for this team.
Gil brought back the second worst contract in NBA history but Rashard has graced us with two overpaid role players in Trevor Ariza or Emeka Okafor. We knew the Wizards were going to have to take back a bad contract, or two, I guess. But if the Wizards were dealing with a team with equally bad contracts, there could have been more. The talk around the league was that the Hornets were desperately trying to move Ariza or Okafor and potentially the 10th overall pick with them. So the Wizards took on salary while allowing the Hornets to dump salary without getting the only real valuable asset (supposedly) available.
This trade gives us some major insights:
1) Grunfeld thinks Trevor Booker wasn’t that good last year. While Wiz fans will crucify Ernie for effectively taking Booker’s minutes away, I’ve written about how he was pretty mediocre on a bad team. Unless Booker can play some small forward, which I stalwartly oppose, he may be seeing some DNP’s for some reason other than Plantar Fasciitis.
2) The Wizards think John Wall is ready to take the reins and lead this team to the playoffs. I couldn’t disagree more with this concept. As I pointed out in the round table on Wall, he made little to no progress last year and his game was effectively the same. Excuses can and will be made, but the notion that he is currently more Derrick Rose than Jarrett Jack requires a leap of faith I’m not ready to make.
3) The Leonsis plan is dead. No longer is this team trying to turn itself into a legitimate contender through the draft. I’m sad to see this plan end with Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza.
4) If the Bobcats take Bradley Beal or trade the pick to someone who does, Ernie’s decision to go in this direction before the draft becomes utterly reprehensible.
5) The amnesty of Andray Blatche is coming. The improbability of Ted Leonsis’ desire to pay a bought-out Lewis and amnestied Blatche became very real. Would you want to pay $20 million through 2013 to two guys playing for other teams?
6) No big free agents were coming to DC and why would they? What good is all this cap room if you really only have Wall to extend? It is time to put the money to use somewhere, Ernie believes.
Luckily, Okafor and Ariza will both be sizeable expiring contracts in two years. If they prove to be contributors on a playoff squad, they can be re-signed for half of what they make. If they continue their poor play, they can be a decent trade chip.
As short-sighted as this trade is, I believe it to be defensible. A core of what we want Wall to be, what we think Beal can be, and what Nene is, combined with strong defenders in Okafor and Ariza will make this team competitive although likely a first round loser.