C.R.E.A.M.–Wizards Draft Cash, Passing on Opportunity to Stash
Two million dollars worth, per the Washington Post’s Michael Lee. From the Los Angeles Lakers, who will receive an actual player: Jordan Clarkson.
It’s a surprising and cost-saving move for a Wizards team that has claimed the desire to build by acquiring young, low-risk, high-reward assets as part of “the process” … whether that asset plays now, on a team that could have the roster space to test a second rounder, or whether that asset develops overseas while rights are retained. Tomas Satoransky and Emir Preldzic are the only two players whose draft rights Washington currently holds (and Preldzic was acquired from Cleveland in the Antawn Jamison trade).
The team-friendly message via CSN’s J. Michael is that all the guys the Wizards wanted were gone. This sounds like a narrow philosophy, if true. With limited sight lines on the long run, settling for cash after a few players dropped off the big board is just as much lacking creativity as it is looking under the couch cushions for change. There had to be more players on the list, tell me that there was more intelligence in the war room. No, this reeks of desperately calling a phone number that offers to buy your house in less than a week—unfortunately for the Wizards, there could be buried treasure in that house.
Thursday night’s sale also represents the first draft pick given away for cash in the Ted Leonsis era, an act that was presumably a relic of the Abe Pollin regime. In 2009 the 32nd overall pick (Jermaine Taylor) was sold to Houston. DeJuan Blair, Jonas Jerebko, Jodie Meeks, Patrick Beverley, Chase Budinger, Nick Calathes, Danny Green, and Patty Mills were later available in that draft.
In 2008 the 47th overall pick (Bill Walker) was sold to Boston. Interestingly enough, the Spurs drafted Gorgan Dragic 45th in 2008 and traded him to Phoenix for Malik Hairston (taken 48th), CA$H, and a 2009 second rounder (which ended up being DeJuan Blair). No one of note was drafted after Walker in 2008 (Timofey Mozgov, Greg Stiemsma, and Othyus Jeffers went undrafted).
Washington’s second round pick for 2015 is already a goner. Perhaps not flat-out sold, but it was used to convince the Philadelphia 76ers to take Eric Maynor as part of the trade that sent Jan Vesely to Denver, netting the Wizards Andre Miller.
During his time with the Wizards, Ernie Grunfeld has selected two draft-and-stash players in the second round: Vladimir Veremeenko 48th overall in 2006, and Tomas Satoransky 32nd overall in 2012.
Satoransky looks like he’s going to sign with Spanish League powerhouse FC Barcelona—Juan Carlos Navarro, a Wizards/Michael Jordan-era draft-and-stash, has played for Barcelona for just about all of his life. Satoransky’s next European contract will likely, however, have an opt-out clause for the NBA. CSN’s Ben Standig reports that Grunfeld doesn’t expect to see him in the league for two more years.
The rights to Veremeenko were once-upon-a-time traded on draft night 2010 to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for Kirk Hinrich, Kevin Seraphin (17th in 2010), and cash (as the Bulls were trying to clear space for LeBron’s initial decision).
Maybe it’s just a sunk cost that will never pan out, but you’ll never catch the San Antonio Spurs selling second round picks. Hasn’t happened in the Gregg Popovich era since 1994, that’s for sure. In fact, the Spurs currently own the rights to 10 unsigned draft picks, six of them going back over the last four years. On Thursday evening, it looks like San Antonio picked up another piece of Euro-stash by trading picks 58 and 60 to Philadelphia for Serbian swingman Nemanja Dangubic, who was taken 54th overall; Philadelphia then sold pick 60 to Brooklyn for cash.
Meanwhile, Ted Leonsis just added $2 million dollars—from one of the richest teams in the league, no less (does he not get enough from the L.A. Lakers via luxury tax payments?)—to what he will surely call efforts to keep Marcin Gortat and Trevor Ariza. Or rather what was dubbed by Grunfeld as a chance to add “an established option.”
The Spurs, instead, chose to stockpile. Nando De Colo, Ian Mahinmi, Tiago Splitter, Luis Scola, and Manu Ginobili were all draft-and-stash assets of San Antonio. One of them is a future Hall-of-Famer.
Just like it was for the Wizards under Pollin in 2009 when the 32nd overall pick was sold, this trade is water on your cereal instead of milk, recycling paper towels that were used at a barbecue, and stuffing food in your pockets at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Even worse: it’s an outright refusal to use one of the tools available to NBA teams for improving the overall standing of their franchise. Maybe the $2 million will go a long way toward Leonsis’ bottom line. Probably the presumed upswing of forecasted economic promise for a budding playoff team isn’t all roses. Definitely could be a lost opportunity.
Smart franchises don’t make a habit of selling draft picks. That’s the real bottom line here.
Onward plow the Washington Wizards.
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