The era of the “Big 3″ in Washington is officially over. After a few very busy days during the NBA’s All Star weekend and the the trade deadline the Washington Wizards have traded away their best players as the “rebuilding” process is officially underway in our Nation’s capital.
There is still time for the Wizards (18-33) to make another move before today’s 3pm trade deadline, but the moves with the most significance have already been made.
The first part of the in-season rebuilding process began when the Wizards traded Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, and DeShawn Stevenson to the Dallas Mavaricks for Josh Howard, Quinton Ross, Drew Gooden, and James Singleton.
Then last night, just moments before the Wizards took the court to take on the Minnesota Timberwolves at home in front of only a handful of fans at the Verizon Center, the trade rumblings surfaced about the next deal the club had made.
The Wizards had agreed to a three team trade that included them sending Antawn Jamison to the Cleveland Cavaliers and newly acquired Drew Gooden to the Los Angeles Clippers. In return the Wizards received Al Thorton (Florida State), Zydrunas Ilgauskus, Brian Skinner, and the Cavaliers 1st round pick.
The bottom line for the Wizards is that they were forced to trade their best players including two all stars in Butler and Jamison and one of the league’s top centers in Haywood, only to get in return a small percentage of their value. What the Wizards were able to accomplish however should help the development of their franchise and these trades were made for the future direction of the Wizards franchise.
By adding extra cap space, an extra 1st round pick, and a prospect in Al Thorton, the Wizards did what they had to with their backs against the wall in order to try and reshape a franchise that has never seen harder times than during the 2009-’10 season.
So while the preseason predictions of 45 to 50 wins and a deep playoff run seems like a cruel joke to Wizards fans now with a roster full of “no names”, the reality is at least throughout all of the chaos, the Wizards and Ernie Grunfeld made the best of a bad situation.
I still think that the Wizards could have gotten more from the Mavs in the Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood trade, such as a 1st round pick or a prospect such as Rod Beaubois, but at least the Wizards got solid value when they packaged Jamison and Gooden out of DC last night.
The remaining 31 games of the Wizards season will be a struggle to put it modestly. While many of the NBA’s organization’s will be looking to make a strong playoff push or secure home court advantage in the playoffs, the Wizards will be playing their young prospects and low level NBA players as they prepare for the NBA draft.
Wins will be as few and far between as vacant seats in the Verizon Center to finish out the season, but at least the team won’t be forced to pay the league’s dollar for dollar luxury tax for a 20 win team.
The good news for the Wizards moving forward is that at least in the midst of what should be a very rough end to the season, the Wizards will be able to get some of their young players like Andray Blatche, Nick Young, and JaVale McGee some much needed playing time, all while securing one of the league’s top overall picks in the draft.
It’s now officially time to get familiar with Kentucky’s John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, as well as Ohio State’s Evan Turner, because these are the three players most likely to be drafted amongst the first three overall in the draft…a likely place the Wizards will be drafting this June.