In Defense of the Wizards Selling a Draft Pick
How could a team sell its only draft pick when it’s roster has so many holes? Aren’t second round picks (and their non-guaranteed salaries) supposed to be extremely valuable under the new CBA?
There appeared to be no basketball-related justification for the move–only a callous economic one. The financial motivation seemed even clearer after Grantland’s Zach Lowe reported that an internal league memo revealed that last season the Wizards lost the second most money in the entire NBA–a cool $13 million. Only the Brooklyn Nets lost more–albeit a lot more ($144 million).
So that proves Ted was being cheap, right?
Not necessarily. Try looking at this from another perspective.
Let’s say you are Ted Leonsis. You own the 46th pick in a draft that only lasts 60 picks. You visit the war room early in the second round and gaze at the draft board. You see a long list of available players. Your general manager points to three names circled at the top. Those are his targets. Unfortunately, if CSN’s J. Michael is to be believed, by the time your pick comes around all three guys are taken.
The phone rings. It is Mitch Kupchak. He really wants to give you $1.8 million. All you have to give him is your pick. You look at the draft board. You look at Ernie Grunfeld. You put the phone down and have the following conversation:
Ted: If we wait 30 minutes until the draft ends, most of these guys on your list will be available for free, right?
Ernie: I suppose.
Ted: Is there anyone on your list who is worth giving up $1.8 million to draft?
Ernie: Well, even Bill Simmons admitted the draft is a crapshoot so I cannot guarantee anything, but I kind of like this one guy…
Ted: That’s cool. I can take it from here. [Picks up phone] Mitch? You still there?
Selling the pick does not sound so crazy anymore, does it? Now, you may be thinking: Wait a minute, your whole argument is that Ted should sell the pick because Ernie cannot be trusted to use it wisely? Isn’t that a bad sign?
Look, I am telling you how the world is, not how it ought to be. To paraphrase Chris Rock, I am not saying I agree with selling the pick, but I understand.
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