Ultimately, it is what it is — Mike Miller style. What will be with the Washington Wizards will be. Until there are signs that that franchise is truly turning around, those who question “the plan” are obtuse outsiders without context. At least it seems this way, sometimes, as mistakes accrue and ownership looks to provide massaged reasoning via blog pixels.
It won’t be easy is a mantra, stay the well-intended course is the verse, and injuries are the narrative. It’s still hard to tell if something is direly amiss with the Ernie Grunfeld administration and how things are being evaluated in his second life. The track record barely needs mentioning to know how putrid it is. Now, the fires have been further inflamed by a reported trade that never happened.
The Washington Post‘s Michael Lee dropped a bombshell on Ted Leonsis’ pro basketball franchise on Tuesday evening, just as the Wizards were set to tip off against the Hornets in New Orleans. The quick gist is this tweet via @PostSports:
— Post Sports (@PostSports) December 12, 2012
Go ahead, read the entire piece. You probably already have.
Lee covers three key points on behalf of the Wizards:
#1) Denial – “One Wizards official denied that Oklahoma City had offered Harden in exchange for Beal and Singleton, stating that the Thunder was also seeking an established player — which the Wizards didn’t have — in return.”
#2) Facts of Life – “A person with knowledge of Oklahoma City’s interest in Beal said the Wizards’ decision to hold on to Beal made sense because teams are often willing to trade draft picks but are more inclined to keep players once they’ve been selected.” Essentially: would it be the smartest, most certain move in the world for the Wizards to trade their James Harden of the future (the 19-year old Beal) for the James Harden of the present (a 23-year-old) who would be demanding an immediate pay hike? The answer is not absolute.
#3) Money – Simply put, having to give Harden a max contract on top of having Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza on the roster would put the Wizards in luxury tax territory. Of course, this puts another significant nail in the coffin — a nail that Ariza and Okafor haven’t already hammered themselves — on how much of an ill-advised trade that was (despite somewhat of an endorsement from TAI).
All of this is obviously a hot topic for conversation today with the Wizards set to play Harden’s new team, the Houston Rockets, this evening. It is literally all over the interwebs — “unpacked,” smothered, covered, diced, recycled.
On his blog, Leonsis has simply written:
“No comment on any of the other stuff. We can never comment about rumor and anonymous sources.”
But the wicked pixels continue to indict the owner and his chosen leader of basketball operations. Fans aren’t holding on to faint glimmers of hope, they are jumping ship. Of course, scouts such as ESPN.com’s David Thorpe, who had a high opinion of Beal during the summer league, probably haven’t jumped ship on the rookie’s potential. So neither should Wizards fans in the face of this rumor.
Still, just how damaging is this report to Leonsis and Grunfeld? TAI would like to take a poll. Vote away.