When It’s #MaynorTime To Go: Trade Reactions and #AirWolf Vesely Farewells
Jan Vesely and Eric Maynor were traded yesterday. A former sixth overall dunking ninja and the lead singer of 2013’s free agency period were parlayed into a basketball PhD, Andre Miller. What a deal! Or, maybe not. Reasonable minds, and all that. Here’s the range of reactions from the TAI consortium…
Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It):
Statistically, Jan Vesely averaged the highest rate of Jan Veselys per 36 minutes in Washington franchise history. And that’s an accomplishment worthy of the #SoWizards lore in which it will forever exist.
Vesely bound onto Wizards Nation not when he jumped out of his seat in a green room in Newark, New Jersey, to kiss his then-girlfriend upon being selected sixth overall in the 2011 NBA Draft. Rather, his true mark was made back at the May draft lottery when the Wizards slipped from the fourth spot to the sixth. One of the first prognosticatory moments came when ESPN’s Jay Bilas (I think) spoke about Jan, a boy from the Czech Republic, over grainy, Eastern-European video highlights of his dirty deeds done dirt cheap (in the Serbian pro league). I turned to TAI cohort Adam McGinnis (we watched the Wizards win the John Wall lottery from the very same Ikea futon), and said, “The Wizards are totally going to draft this guy.”
Now, just about 1,000 days and two weeks later, the body of Vesely has been passed along as inconsistent Wizards junk to the treasure-seeking Denver Nuggets (of little risk). For their troubles, Denver gave up a 38-year-old to-be point guard who sulked his way out of town and a future second-round draft pick.
Sure, the 2011 draft was not as stout in comparison to others. Still, the Wizards could ill-afford to miss with the lottery pick immediately after selecting John Wall in their “bad by design” plan, and they did.
Somewhere amidst the dunks, missed free throws (airballed his first NBA attempt), #VeselyAlerts, Air Wolfs (Wolves), Czech Blake Griffins, American Jan Veselys, random Beastie Boy videos, and the Jan Vesely Diaries, lies a real live boy named Jan. His nickname: Honza, generally given to “Johns” in the Czech Republic like “Dick” to “Richards.” But when you Google “Honza,” you are likely led to a Wikipedia entry describing a fairytale about a boy called “Dull John.” His parents
send him out into the world to find his way. He meets obstacles. He eventually returns home “with fame, riches and a princess as his wife.”
And so the journey continues to Denver (Jan’s single and ready to mingle, by the way, just to alert all you princesses in Colorado) where the path continues to look more bleak than dull, but is not without tiny glimmers of hope. Get him to the chopper, it’s time for the Air Wolf to fly.
Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20):
Since the negative aspects of this trade are the lowest of low-hanging fruits, let us discuss the positives first. Garrett Temple, bless his hard-nosed heart, is scaring no one in the backup point guard role. He occasionally hits an open shot, and he plays decent on-the-ball defense, but as recently as last Tuesday night, Toronto Raptors guard Greivis Vasquez (14 points, seven assists) severely outplayed him, while showing Wizards fans what a real backup point guard should be doing. Andre Miller, even in his antiquated state, demands attention from opposing teams, while Bradley Beal, who is not a bad playmaker but is a much better shooter, and Martell Webster can now focus on scoring and hopefully hitting open shots with the second unit. Perhaps Randy Wittman will go Don Nelson on everyone and play Miller, Beal and John Wall in the backcourt just to spice things up. Realistic? Not really, but it is about the options a second legitimate point guard provides.
But make no mistake about it, this trade is yet another admission of poor talent-evaluation and coaching. The exact same superlatives Ernie Grunfeld bestowed up on Andre Miller yesterday (veteran leadership and stability) were used when Eric Maynor was signed, and not only did he fall short, but he was benched from being a bench-player by December in favor of Temple. And Jan Vesley, who was picked sixth overall in the 2011 draft, could not even stay in the starting lineup, let alone make the type of impact expected (and needed) from a lottery pick. If the Wizards GM was in his first, second or third year, this type of misfire could be chalked up to inexperience or simply bad luck. But Ernie Grunfeld, who has made some savvy moves, unfortunately has added questionable personnel decisions to his resume since he arrived in Washington in 2003. Eddie Jordan and Flip Saunders were fired for this type of ineptitude, and this latest trade is more evidence that Grunfeld, too, should be an ex-Wizard.
Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks):
“Extra! Extra! Read all about it!”
A gentleman of business enters stage left.
“Well, hello there, young man. What’s the news of the day?”
Newsboy hands him a paper.
“What’s this? My Wizards of Washington have completed a trade? Tell me, kid, is it a deal with the devil or sweet nectar from the sunken, resurrected teats of our Lord and savior?”
Newsboy stares blankly.
“Wo-ho! You’re telling me my Wizards of Washington traded two miserable benchwarmers for a 15-year veteran that plays point guard! I even know his name! Wait just a minute here, this trade opens up a roster spot and saves the team money? As a capitalist-exceptionalist, this delights me! Ernest Grunfeld, you beautiful bastard! You’ve done it again! What’s that kid, a second-round pick? There are two rounds? Oh, right, don’t we usually sell these things? Or stash them in godforsaken Europe? I’m telling you, kid, things are looking up! I need read no further, nor purchase this paper.”
Newsboy begins to speak, thinks better of it, and explodes in cloud of vaporized blood and bone.
It’s true. The headline reads well. Folks can’t stand Eric Maynor, and Jan Vesely … well, he didn’t work out. In terms of players lost, it may very well be that the Wizards gave up nothing for Andre Miller. There’s a strong assumption that he will upgrade the backup point guard position, and for now, it is difficult to disagree with the assumption.
But the upgrade is temporary. The Wizards will cut Andre Miller before the start of this summer’s free agency period. His partially-guaranteed salary next year is upwards of $4.6 million dollars, and the only way that this trade “saves” money (which was cited as a benefit) is if the team parts ways with their new acquisition after this season’s (presumed) playoff run has come to an end. Are 28 games of Andre Miller worth a second-round pick in 2015? Not in the context of this season, they are not. Miller will not help Washington beat Miami or Indiana. He might make a first or second-round playoff series slightly more competitive.
And future second-round draft picks are worth something, even if they are hard to conceptualize before they eventually become associated with a player. This trade would be unnecessary if the Wizards had been able to properly evaluate Shelvin Mack, who was a second-round pick and is now playing extremely well in Atlanta. Gilbert Arenas was a second-round draft pick. They are sources of cheap basketball labor on non-guaranteed contracts, and plenty former second-round picks contribute every night in the NBA. The chance to add long-term value is worth more than 28 games of Andre Miller on a non-contending team, and the team will miss having that pick long after Andre Miller is gone, in the summer of 2015. Laugh a wool-flavored laugh if you must, but know that Ernie Grunfeld is laughing, too, as he’s once again mortgaged a piece, albeit a small one, of the team’s future to cover up the unseemly scars of his past.
Adam Rubin (@LedellsPlace):
Like every other stop-gap move Ernie Grunfeld makes, the Jan Vesely/Eric Maynor exorcism cannot be viewed in a vacuum. Does it make Washington better? Sure. But that’s only half the story, and it lets Ernie off the hook way too easy. The only reason Washington was in desperate need for a backup point guard is because Ernie’s prized free agent signing—the guy who Ernie rushed to sign on the first day of free agency and unnecessarily gave a two-year contract—turned out to be completely unplayable. By December.
And the only reason a 37-year-old disgruntled backup point guard who has not played in a month and a half is considered an upgrade over the sixth pick in the 2011 draft is because that pick also turned out to be completely unplayable. So, yeah, Ernie gets about as much credit for signing/drafting bad players and then trading their contracts for slightly better players as would a janitor who takes a crap in the middle of the cafeteria and then volunteers to clean it up.
John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend)
You’ve heard the news. The Wizards now have backup point guard, a vet with years and years and years of NBA experience, Andre Miller. Legit. The cost of shipping was untapped potential, a future asset, and an expensive mistake: 2011’s sixth overall pick Jan Vesely, a second-round pick (via the jettisoning of Nick Young), and a player—a backup point guard—signed to the bi-annual exception on the first day of free agency.
“We wanted to upgrade our backup point guard position,” Ernie Grunfeld told anyone listening in Sept. 2012. “Eric [Maynor] has been with us now, three weeks in a row. He’s very solid, very steady. He brings a little poise to the game.”
Solid, steady, and poise… Three words never used to described what little we saw of #MaynorTime.
But Andre Miller! In stars and stripes because the Wizards had to have him, after letting Kendall Marshall slip through their fingers in October. The team didn’t have any open roster spots then, after trading Emeka Okafor and a first-rounder for Marcin Gortat, and couldn’t find a way to make one. Not at the expense of new toy Al Harrington. Nor former first-rounder Chris Singleton, who never plays. Nor Garrett Temple, 27, a man familiar with 10-day contracts (on his sixth NBA team in four years).
Kendall? He’s killing it in Hollywood. The irony.
And how familiar. I flashback to the days of Othyus Jeffers, and A.J. Price, who Bossman Kyle Weidie once described as “the right point guard behind John Wall.” Back to Shelvin Mack, or James Singleton, or Shaun Livingston. All three were let go—twice. Livingston famously confessed there is “a lack of structure from an organizational standpoint” in D.C. “The structure, system wasn’t necessarily … it’s tough to elaborate without really going overboard.”
Hindsight is 20/20, they say. And that’s often true when you reflect on missed opportunities. But maybe the Wizards should get their vision checked.
*reaches for a Joni Mitchell vinyl, and a record player, both conveniently in arm’s reach*
“Don’t it always seem to go, that you’ve don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone…?”
Dan Diamond (@ddiamond)
I realize this move only patches a patch, yet I’m delighted by it. What was the alternative—keeping a gaping black hole behind Wall at point guard? Moving forward with mediocrity, rather than trying to fix a mistake?
Yes, this team’s likely ceiling is the second round of the playoffs. Yes, it ached to see Shelvin Mack and Kendall Marshall delivering competent guard play while Maynor’s carcass rotted on the bench. And yes, trading young assets for aging assets isn’t a great strategy. But if there’s some huge risk—some gaping flaw—in this deal, I’m not seeing it.
Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis):
It is that time of the calendar year where one must enter those illustrious metaphorical “vacuums” to analyze another Washington Wizards deadline deal. On the merits, it is a solid move, and you can see the rationale behind it. The Wizards exchanged two players—who were not playing—to upgrade a position of need with low risk and little future financial commitment. Team brass recognized their second unit was not going to work out as currently constructed, and that a tweak was necessary to ready the team for the playoffs.
HOWEVER, we don’t live in Ernie Grunfeld’s magic vacuum bags and these trades reignite the fan base’s loathing of his decade-long personnel mishaps. (Luckily for Big Ern that Wizards don’t reside in a media fishbowl like the Redskins.)
Many find it difficult to shower the front office with any praise considering they just traded away their first free agent signing of last summer and a former lottery pick for a 37-year-old point guard. And they had to throw in a 2015 second-round pick (via New Orleans) in order to get it done. The negative reception would not occur if their was new leadership at the top or if the Wizards were
a legitimate championship contender in a strong conference.
The demands to fire Wittman will continue on Bullets Forever comments sections. Grunfeld’s unpopularity has no chance of reversing. Who is ultimately responsible: The Monumental Sports & Entertainment ownership group—the Wizards are currently 98-186 (.345%) under the stewardship of Ted Leonsis.
This trade is an admission that the 2011 NBA Draft was a bust and their “plan” to build with young assets was not a minor setback but rather a foundational error of vision that put fans through more misery than necessary.
Sean Fagan (@McCarrick)
Put aside for a moment the talk of assets, playoff seeding, and a team’s need to caulk the hole that was the backup point guard position. Instead concentrate for one moment on the idea of joy. Now imagine Jan kissing Eva. Remember Jan taking off from the free throw line to dunk the ball. Perhaps, take the briefest of seconds to remember Jan’s coming out party at Summer League this past year.
The “truth about it” is that Jan Vesely joins the elephant graveyard of failed Wizards draft picks. A player with natural ability once again floundered in the DMV, and whether it be from terrible player development, bad coaching, or sheer cussedness, the track record of the Wizards is proving that it is one of the last places you want to end up as a young player with some rough patches in your game. Many came to bury Jan Vesely yesterday. I come not to praise him or regret the decision to trade him, but to simply acknowledge that the franchise has failed in their duties to develop a young player once again.
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