For the second year in a row, the Washington Wizards sold their second round draft pick. Good move? Bad move? It’s Washington Wizards Point, Counter-Point.
[previously on Point, Counter-Point: Why Didn’t The Wizards Get Vince Carter?]
Don’t tell me about saving a roster spot for a free-agent big man. With the departure of Juan Dixon and the three-for-two trade with Minnesota, the Wizards have 13 players under contract. They could have drafted Blair, without committing much money to him at all, and signed a free-agent big such as Zaza Pachulia or Marcin Gortat (assuming either of those guys would play for the full MLE, both will probably command more).
Why not take a chance on Blair? Selecting him could have been a low-risk, high-reward move.
This just reeks of being cheap.
Blair, who was rumored to be good enough to have been a lottery pick, might turn out to be a ball player and he might not. But evidently, surgery on both knees was enough to keep Grunfeld, and many other away. Pistons Blog ‘Piston Powered’ got a doctor’s opinion of Blair’s knee injuries:
In high school, Blair tore both of his ACLs and had them surgically repaired. Blair’s scar tissue essentially got re-absorbed by his body and the result left Blair with essentially no ACLs.
Although he’s suffered no adverse effects ever since, Blair’s is an unprecedented injury and one that scared off a slew of NBA executives. Though Blair literally has no ACL to tear, some team physicians feel that Blair could eventually develop a nagging issue that could wear him down a few years down the road.
No ACLs? Yikes.
- Perhaps Ernie Grunfeld had a deal with Houston (contingent on Taylor or someone else being available) before Blair slipped.
Plus, as the WaPost’s Michael Lee has pointed out, the $2.5 million Washington got was significantly more than the $750,000 they got for selling Billy Walker to the Celtics last year. This could help the Wizards off-set having to pay the luxury tax.
- The sale increases the likelihood that Grunfeld uses both the mid-level exception (estimated at being worth just under $6 million) and the bi-annual exception (est. at being worth just under $2 million).The former could obviously land a big name, and the latter could bring a player more ready to contribute than Blair.
For more information on the NBA salary cap and exceptions, see the NBA Salary Cap FAQ website.
- Or, Grunfeld uses the MLE and saves that final spot for a rain day contingency as he did last year. Grunfeld ended up using that 15th spot to sign Juan Dixon when Gilbert Arenas went down.
Or, he finds a trade that nets more players than the Wizards send out.Or, the Wizards find someone in camp, such as a hard working, more experienced NBDL player.
Point is … sure, Blair could be the next Paul Millsap. And if so, the Wizards will fall in line with all the other teams that passed up on him.
But Blair had enough of an injury history not to select, and after that, no one else in the draft impressed Ernie Grunfeld as being a possible immediate contributor.
Why not sell the pick?
This one is tough to swallow. And while some are pretty peeved that Grunfeld passed up on the opportunity to select Blair, I can’t get too bent out of shape.
Grunfeld probably tried his best to move the pick in a package for something significant, but a second rounder just isn’t a valuable kicker in a trade.
In the end, whether the Wizards used the pick or not doesn’t have much of a bearing on the goal of a deep playoff run.