On draft night, there were many frustrated rumblings on Bullets Forever over Ernie Grunfeld failing to land (or go after) Vince Carter. Not only that, but Carter was allowed to go to the reigning Eastern Conference champion Orlando Magic.
With Hedo Turkoglu opting out, unlikely to return to Orlando, who knows if the Magic will be better off with Carter … many assume yes. I’ll be curious to see if Stan Van Gundy uses Carter similarly within the offense as he did Turkoglu, creating for others off the high pick and roll.
And if Rasheed Wallace goes to Orlando (which probably means that baby ‘Sheed is backing off demands of $8 million a year), they could be very scary. Tumultuous with Wallace the home-wrecker, buy scary nonetheless.
But in terms of the Wizards, should Grunfeld have gone after Carter?
The Magic were able to get a 32-year old eight time NBA all-star with plenty left in the tank. Last season, Carter averaged over 20 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and shot 38.5% from long distance. Most importantly, Carter played like a leader on a 34-48 New Jersey Nets team, a 180 degree turn from his days of pouting and ‘bagging it’ in Toronto.
How dare Grunfeld let Carter go to a division rival for less than what the Wizards could have sent to New Jersey. All Orlando had to give up was an expendable malcontent PG who’ll become a pout box on the bench of one of the worst teams in the NBA, a 33-year old bag of bones who might not live through the flight to ‘Jersey’, and a young rising guard all Wizards fans would rather have instead of Nick Young … because Courtney Lee actually plays defense.
Actually, since Rafer Alston has one-year left on a $5.25 million unguaranteed contract, don’t count on seeing him in New Jers, nor Tony Battie with his $6.292 ready to come off the books after next season too.
A Wizards offer of the expiring contracts of Etan Thomas and Mike James, the 5th pick, and perhaps a throw-in like Oleksiy Pecherov, surely would have been more enticing than Orlando’s package. The Wizards would have gotten a true starting two guard AND would not have had to give up Darius Songaila. Who would have been the big winner? Ernie Grunfeld, that’s who.
Vince Carter? Are you kidding me? Sure he may not be as selfish as people think, but c’mon, the guy dominates the ball. There’s no way he’d mesh with the Big Three. Putting Carter on the Wiz … Grunfeld might as well go after Stephon Marbury and Allen Iverson too. Maybe he can even trade for Zach Randolph and create a dysfunctional unit akin to Team USA Basketball 2002.
Ok, so maybe the Wizards wouldn’t exactly start acting like Dan Snyder owned the team. But adding Randy Foye and Mike Miller, even if it means losing Songaila, makes a better team than adding Carter to the mix.
With so many players who can play ON the ball in Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, and Antawn Jamison, the Wizards need someone like Miller who can play off the ball, spotting up beyond the arc and being the court spreading long distance threat all good teams have. Plus,Foye could be the sleeper steal of the trade. In getting talent, I’d much rather have promising youth over a 32-year old on the downside of his career … a creaky boned injury waiting to happen on a team riddled with that very problem.
Aside from team chemistry (I’m not buying the fact that Jamison and Carter were college ‘buddies’ and are married to the Rucker sisters, Ione and Ellen respectively, would have much to do with the overall chemistry of the Wizards), Carter is owed $52.6 million over the next three years. It would be absolutely silly for Grunfeld to handcuff the team financially in such a manner.
Maybe the dream scenario for fans would have been to ship Thomas, James, and Young to New Jersey for Carter, and then keep to 5th pick and select Ricky Rubio. Well, that didn’t happen … too bad.
But the fact is, Miller and Foye, instead of Carter, added to the current components, make the team better for the system Flip Saunders wants to run, not the fans. And if things don’t work out, Grunfeld leaves himself significant maneuvering flexibility in being able to extend Butler, or re-sign Brendan Haywood, or add another piece that helps the Wizards retool towards a championship goal.