On Christmas day, Yahoo’s Marc Spears reported, according to at least one NBA executive, that the Wizards were “open for business.” Of course, this could simply mean that Ernie Grunfeld has fielded a call, or made a call, and has had a discussion involving the potential possibilities past “hello.” You know, pretty much doing the job a general manager of a team falling way below expectations should be doing in gauging the value of his players.
No biggie and certainly to be expected despite the initial judgement phase of 20 games being extended to 40 games by Flip Saunders, which is probably a reflection of Grunfeld’s thinking … or at least the message the team president of basketball operations wants to convey to the media and the players.
Spears also reported that Gilbert Arenas is on the table and that the Wizards think highly of JaVale McGee and are unlikely to include him in a deal unless the pot is really sweet.
Again, it’s no shocker that everyone is pretty much available … for the right price, which is a pretty big caveat.
What Spears’ report doesn’t mean is that Grunfeld is ready to blow up the team and start dumping salary. It sounds like, again, according to at least one NBA executive, Grunfeld is simply performing due diligence.
Two days later, ESPN’s Marc Stein reported on several Wizards items of interest in his Weekend Dime. First, Stein reports:
It’s a misnomer, according to one source close to the situation, to say that Washington has been shopping Arenas beyond some exploratory talks with Houston about an Arenas-for-Tracy McGrady swap that would naturally appeal to the Wiz because of McGrady’s huge expiring contract but was never going to tempt the Rockets.
Jettisoning Arenas for a salary dump would be quite foolhardy and could set the franchise back further than keeping him. To the Wizards, Arenas contract isn’t that bad. Sure, four more years at about $80 million is a lot of money. But his return from injury and the progress he’s made on the court this season must be considered. Arenas’ contract is not, by any means, even close to historic Jim McIlvaine, Eddy Curry or Jon Koncak proportions.
Now, whether Arenas can ever be part of a winning team is a debate based on too many unknowns and speculation. To other teams, his contract is obviously bad because it’s predicated on a lot of risk, mostly due to his knee surgeries. Thus, it’s unlikely that anyone offers any assets outside of an expiring contract for Arenas, and actually, most teams might demand assets just to take Arenas off Grunfeld’s hands.
Wizards fans, would you want to give up Arenas and McGee just for McGrady’s expiring contract? Didn’t think so. It simply does not make sense to trade Gilbert unless the Wizards are getting some value in return.
Stein also reports that Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison are receiving the most interest from other teams and that Jamison is, “quite frustrated by the ongoing disarray with the Wiz.”
Duh. If anyone on that team isn’t frustrated, then they don’t care about the game of basketball. Now, whether Jamison is ‘get me out of town’ frustrated, as Stein insinuates, remains to be seen.
Finally, Stein reports:
I’m told that the Wizards (A) would insist on at least one more asset because they are not prepared to part with Butler or Jamison merely for cap relief and (B) would do everything they could to avoid sending Jamison to Cleveland because of the tension that has built up in recent years between those teams.
Two things I like to hear as someone with a vested emotional interest in the team. Screw Cleveland. If the Wizards trade Jamison to the Cavs and he goes on to help them win a title then I’ll spit in my own face.
But also, as I clearly believe, it would be highly disappointing if Grunfeld made a strictly salary-dump move. Sure, cut costs, make some creative side deals to avoid paying the luxury tax this year, but don’t get rid of talent without getting back potential, regardless of the cost.
This franchise is not in the best position in the world. Yet, they still aren’t in a bad enough position where they have to wreaking-ball the house and rebuild from scratch. With the trade deadline around seven weeks away, a lateral shake-up is what should be sought at this juncture.
It’s no surprise that the Wizards are cautiously open for business, it just doesn’t mean that they are any closer to pulling the trigger on a deal.