Unlike a lot of Wizards fans out there on the web, I actually didn’t mind this trade. It quickly became apparent that Washington didn’t have the roster depth to hold down the fort until Okafor returns, and quite frankly, I was sick of seeing Jan Vesely or Trevor Booker starting along side Nene. The Wizards’ playoff hopes dwindled in Okafor’s absence, and the Wizards simply needed to make a move, and they did so on Friday.
Although Gortat won’t be the defensive presence Okafor was, he will help the Wizards offensively by become another scoring option in the post. He’s an above average rebounding big, and like a lot of acquisitions over the past few seasons, Gortat will take advantage of the opportunity given to him. He’s no longer relying on fringe starters like he did in Phoenix, since he finally has a legitimate group of players to play with. I truly believe that John Wall’s presence alone could rejuvenate Gortat’s play, like it has so many others in the past (see: Emeka Okafor, Martell Webster, etc.).
Was this a panic move? It definitely was, but unlike the desperation moves made by Grunfeld in the past, this trade will not mortgage the team’s future. Even though Gortat becomes a free agent after this season, the Wizards will still have enough cap room to sign a max player in the off season. Sure, the assets used to acquire Gortat could have potentially been used to snag a very good player on a tanking team, or something to that extent, but that assumption hasn’t been validated by Washington’s moves in the past. Basically, even though the Wizards may have been able to use those assets to acquire a better player than Gortat, there’s nothing to actually say that the opportunity would’ve came about in the future.
As for the protected pick: I’m honestly not too worried about it. The Wizards have established their core group of players, all 23-years old and younger, and they don’t need another developmental piece on the team. The team’s leader, John Wall, even expressed his disinterest in adding more draft picks to the team, given the fact that Washington has been doing that for the past half decade. Again, the Wizards could potentially add another max contract free agent this offseason, and I’m much more excited for that than an uncertain late-lottery player, which rarely pan out.
I guess I could be considered a fan of the trade. Of course, we have to see how it pans out, but this trade will undoubtedly increase Washington’s chances of becoming a successful team this season. Unlike some of the other moves Ernie Grunfeld has made during his tenure in the nation’s capital, this trade will not affect Washington’s future plans.