[UPDATE ON TRADE, via Washington Wizards press release: "...they have acquired forward/center Ronny Turiaf, a 2013 second round pick and cash considerationsfrom the New York Knicks along with a 2012 second round pick from the Dallas Mavericks. The three-team deal also sends Tyson Chandler, the rights to Ahmad Nivins and the rights to Giorgos Printezis from Dallas to New York while the Mavericks will receive Andy Rautins from the Knicks and a 2012 protected second round pick from the Wizards." NOTE: cash considerations is likely $3 million, max allowed by rule.]
Accountability. That’s exactly what Ronny Turiaf brings to the Washington Wizards as they finalize a trade for the 6-10, 245 lbs. big man with the New York Knicks. Accountability and, per the video above, crazy reactions. Oh, and also, Ernie Grunfeld once again uses cap space to make out like a bandit, so it seems.
Turiaf is a 28-year old veteran (29 in January) of six NBA seasons and 358 games. In terms of size (between 6-9 and 6-11), experience (over 300 NBA games, 30 or younger), and the statistical metric, PER (between 14.2 and 14.4), Turiaf’s career could compare to the likes of Danny Schayes, Mel Turpin, LaSalle Thompson, Jahidi White or Jeff Foster. [stats via Basketball-Reference.com]
It’s now being widely reported that Roger Mason Jr. — native son of D.C., attendee of Sidwell Friends/Good Counsel, UVA Cavalier — will soon sign with the Washington Wizards, making it his second stint with the team. Teams can officially sign players at 2 pm on Friday, just before training camp is scheduled to commence. The Post’s Michael Lee reports that Mason will be in Washington, ready to join the team.
How do I feel about this? Iffy, yet content. For one, the signing fits the Ernie Grunfeld mold. The Wizards team president values the presence of veterans, and even though the Wizards hopefully aren’t promising Mason too much court action, nor are overpaying him (the veteran’s minimum, they say, which is just fine), Washington likely offers Mason the most comfort and opportunity over other potential suitors. The Boston Celtics were also said to be interested in Mason; in that situation, Roger might’ve easily found himself relegated to those spillover seats behind the bench, following the inactive dress code, and wondering how and why.
Hi there Internet. Why yes, this here site has doled a lot of criticism toward JaVale McGee in the past X amount of time. While some of it has certainly been flagrant, it is not baseless.
However, one might counter that we have not given young McGee enough praise. This may be true and to that we will say this, he is a keeper… despite all the basketball disruption that his alter ego, I’m assuming his name is “Pierre,” has caused to the playpen of team functionality and trust. He’s not a bad kid. He is young, after all, but many times disappointingly young in comparison to some contemporaries. Still, no one said an investment in youth is easy, but it’s usually always worth it, especially given McGee’s athletic parameters.
I can readily admit that I was encouraged by the way the Washington Wizards played over the last 10 games of the season. They went 6-4 during that span, a new big three of Jordan Crawford, John Wall and Andray Blatche emerged, and the team–led by D-Leaguer Othyus Jeffers–seemed to play with a sense of urgency that had been lacking earlier in the season. I wasn’t ready to declare the Wizards a playoff-bound team next season like John Wall so boldly did, but I definitely saw the improvement.
Then the 2011 playoffs started and I saw brilliant performances by underdogs like the Memphis Grizzlies, the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Indiana Pacers. I also saw teams like the Los Angeles Lakers, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Boston Celtics advance by stepping up their play. Then I thought back to the 10-game flash of brilliance the Wizards showed and I realized that as good as they looked at certain points, they clearly have a long way to go before they can compete under the hot lights of playoff basketball. The same type of comparison can be made to Yi Jianlian and his 2010-2011 season with Washington.
Last summer at the FIBA Championships held in Turkey, Yi displayed the type of aggression that had been lacking during his three-year NBA career with the Milwaukee Bucks and the New Jersey Nets. He averaged 20.2 points, 10.2 rebounds, unveiled a quality drop-step move, and emerged as the leader of the Yao Ming-less Chinese National team. After that FIBA performance, Michael Lee of the Washington Post wrote:
“It’s hard to tell how Yi’s performance will translate to the upcoming season, since he will not be featured with the Wizards as he was with China, which was not good enough to survive a sub-par performance from Yi. But if Yi arrives at training camp healthy, as expected, he should also come with much more confidence in his abilities. There are still flaws that he will have to overcome, and his defense still leaves much to be desired, but the Wizards shouldn’t have any regrets about basically renting Yi’s services for free for a year.”
Tension arises from the final Washington Wizards game of the season. Many fans were content with the loss to Cleveland. The 100-93 defeat on Wednesday means they stand-alone with the fourth-worst record in the NBA, and not tied with two other teams (New Jersey and Sacramento) for the fifth worst record, which could have had major implications on the NBA Draft Lottery. Other the other hand, they lost to Cleveland and looked pretty terrible in doing so.
Here’s where the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” conflict arises. During the game, Comcast’s television play-by-play man Steve Buckhantz mentioned multiple times how Flip Saunders instructed his players before the game that he wanted them to treat it like a playoff affair. But removing John Wall, Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee from the fourth quarter equation (when Washington went into the final period with a 74-71 lead), and then later taking out Jordan Crawford three and a half minutes into the period (the Cavaliers having taken an 81-76 lead), clearly swings the philosophy from treating it like a playoff atmosphere to tanking for the lottery. Worth mentioning that Wall “tweaked” something or another during the game (didn’t look major, better to be safe than sorry), Blatche and McGee were playing like they didn’t deserve to stay on the floor (we’ll get to them), and Crawford was 2-14 from the field (the lackadaisical demeanor assumed by some on the team clearly having an effect on the unit as a whole).
Flip Saunders told the Washington Post:
“I thought our first, main group played really well. I probably would like to see them play the whole game, the way they were playing. We were moving the ball, we were really active and pretty much dominating in many aspects. But it was a good opportunity for us to see a lot of the young guys.”
There were times last night when it seemed like the torso and arms of recent Wizards D-League call up Othyus Jeffers formed into a mouth to gobble up missed shots in mid-flight. I imagined the ball clenched by massive teeth, unable to be relinquished, but somehow spit out cleanly to continue play, Wizards possession. I wasn’t hallucinating.
My mind was curious about the perception. How exactly was the unassuming stature of Jeffers — listed at a very generous 6’5” and weighing in at a 200 lbs. that unfairly masks his strength — able to gulp down rebounds so commandingly against the juggernaut Miami Heat?
DVR has made me selfish against real-life action. I wished I was at home watching the Wizards play the Heat on television and not sitting baseline taking photographs. No, I wouldn’t really give up one of the best seats in the house, but that didn’t keep me from wanting to quench instant gratification with a film study in the art of rebounding.
Jeffers finished with 15 points on 6-7 shooting and eight rebounds, both career highs, in 29 minutes off the bench against Miami. The bad guys, or bandwagon drivers, beat the Wizards 123-107, but the game was much more competitive than the score indicates.
Couple things to consider regarding the Wizards trade of Kirk Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong going to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for Mike Bibby, Jordan Crawford, Maurice Evans and a 2011 first round draft pick…
Vladimir Veremeenko, the Wizards’ 48th overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, a Belarusian who was probably never going to play for the Wizards anyway, has been essentially flipped for Kevin Seraphin (17th pick in the 2010 draft), $3 million cash (from Chicago in Hinrich trade), Jordan Crawford (27th pick in the 2010 draft), Mike Bibby and a 2011 draft pick (currently projected to be the 22nd pick). The presence of Hilton Armstrong and Maurice Evans are negligible in this instance. Not bad though, right?
It’s fallible analysis when you total the contracts of Bibby ($6,417,616) and Crawford ($1,120,440) next season versus that of Hinrich ($8 million) and say that the Wizards are only saving around $461,944. Crawford is in the second season of a rookie contract. Money slotted to be spent on him next year should be considered an investment and not considered when tallying “savings” … Might the Wizards have instead been able to purchase a late first rounder in the ’11 for $3 million? Perhaps, if you want to make that assumption. But then you’ll have to sign that player to a contract. Getting Crawford now offsets having to spend that cash, along with him being someone the Wizards were purportedly interested in, and a player who is already acclimating himself to a professional environment. Plus, as is being reported, Bibby might seek a buyout, which could end up “saving” the Wizards even more money.
Breaking down Jordan Crawford’s very small sample size stats this season and contemplating how he’ll fit in on a team whose parts will continue to move is useless. Remove that from the analysis … for now. Crawford comes in with a clean slate, simple as that.
A future first round draft pick … enough said. Looking at historical data and saying, “Well, such-and-such team or GM doesn’t have a good history of drafting late first rounders…” is, again, useless. What does that have to do with future implementation other than as an enhancement to a static argument? Exactly. Also, why should we assume that the Wizards will keep Atlanta’s late first rounder? What if it’s flipped for a higher pick, or something (someone) else? It’s easy to judge moves alone, but just as outlined in point No. 1, this move could assist the end result of subsequent moves. Pay $3 million for a pick in the low-to-mid-20s? Okay… maybe. Pay $3 million to package a pick in the low-to-mid-20s for a pick in the low teens? It could happen.
Why trade now? Why didn’t the Wizards wait? Maybe Hinrich’s value would have improved? Maybe another team was going to offer more? Again, assumptions are great for argument, not always so much for real world analysis. As far as we know, there were two teams that showed any real interest in Hinrich: Atlanta and the Los Angeles Lakers (and in the Lakers’ case, the interest was probably minimal) … There’s not really a better time to take advantage of a fevered trade deadline environment, especially one occurring before the CBA is set to expire in the summer. Essentially Hinrich had one suitor (because LA made no moves), and Ernie Grunfeld still drove a hard bargain of a pick and a prospect when it was previously reported that Atlanta was unwilling to give up both. Pat yourself on the back, Grunfeld … just a little bit.
But wasn’t Hinrich good for Wall? Sure he was. He set good examples, answered any question Wall had of him. Great. Now Wall can ask questions of Bibby (if he stays around) … or he can continue to seek advice from Sam Cassell … or I’m sure he can just call Hinrich if he really, really wants to. Sure, there is a difference between Hinrich dropping verbal knowledge versus leading by example and being that calming veteran presence on the court during play. But does that really matter in the grand scheme of things? To Wall’s personal development, maybe … some … but otherwise, the veteran intelligence factor in this specific case should not hinder a rebuilding move. Especially when other bad players seem to be dragging down the team, I’m not sure that Hinrich’s presence made that much of a difference. It’s not like he was going to slap Andray Blatche into submission like a Kevin Garnett would.
In the end, it was wholly essential to take advantage of this opportunity. It was a good trade for the Wizards (but doesn’t necessarily change the underlying opinion of the job Ernie Grunfeld has done in totality).
Agent David Falk, decorated history with the Washington Wizards, representative for Mike Bibby. Bibby is the guy who was just traded to D.C. along with Maurice Evans, Jordan Crawford and a 2011 first round pick in exchange for Kirk Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong, who are flying high to Atlanta as I type.
So, it makes one wonder, would Falk have said, “Ernie [Grunfeld] and I will sit down” back then, during the Cold War, as he did over the phone in an interview with Comcast’s Ron Thompson on Wednesday night?
When Ted Leonsis said there would be an increased emphasis on player development in his list of 101 Things (action item No. 29), specifically involving the D-League, Wizards followers gave a collective ‘We’ll believe it when we see it.’ Not so much in doubt of Leonsis’ words, but more so because they’ve been conditioned under the tenure of team president Ernie Grunfeld that development and building for the future was paid more of a whimsical, cursory attention, as the franchise’s number one team builder always seemed instructed to focus on winning in the now.
Not that Grunfeld and his team did not pay attention to the scouting and the draft, but rather, for a myriad excuses one could presumably always find (see: the Wizards’ D-League affiliate, the Wizards, being in Bismarck, North Dakota and/or supplying said team with players to develop wouldn’t best jibe with the intricate offensive system that past coach Eddie Jordan was trying to instruct). Essentially, the D-League has never been worth Grunfeld’s time, warranted or not, aside from sending down the likes of Peter John Ramos or Andray Blatche for a spell in the earlier days (2005-06), and when the affiliate franchise was much closer in Roanoke, Virginia (the Dazzle), or during last season when a franchise in flux was interested in taking a gander at cheap labor while likely appeasing the desires of league higher-ups to use the development league for it’s true intent.
In any case, upon surely leaving out detail on the past unknown team development protocol that will only be known to organization insiders, ideals toward positive future development efforts changed when 2010 draft pick (No. 56 overall) Hamady N’Diaye was assigned to the Dakota Wizards on January 5. But such a path to the basketball enlightenment for the one called “H” almost didn’t happen. Unsigned in the days leading up to training camp, sentiment from the team indicated that they’d rather N’Diaye take his talents overseas for a year or two, something those on the player’s side didn’t seem amicable toward. Rather than lose his rights completely, the Wizards ended up extending a contract tender to N’Diaye and ultimately signed him to the team for training camp and into the season. Now, after a taste of life in the big leagues, just a taste, Hamady works on his very raw skills in the landscape of bus rides and meager per diems.
Upon Rashard Lewis’ arrival in Washington, Flip Saunders lauded him as a professional. Ernie Grunfeld called him a lead-by-example veteran. But these terms easily get demeaned amongst the press conference speak. They are used almost too often to describe just about any veteran who is victim of a trade from contender to bottom-feeder, perhaps as a proclamation of what’s expected from them. But what Lewis has made of his new challenge several games in has given real meaning to these proclamations.
We all know what ‘professional’ means. On the surface, yes, it means you get paid to do a job. A lot of people get paid to do a job but aren’t exactly earning their money … it happens in every profession. Being ‘a’ professional is about more than just earning your keep. For NBA players, it means consistent performance on the court and measured, but worthy, comments in the locker room.
Antawn Jamison was the last professional the Wizards had with an all-star pedigree; some called him the Gentleman Jamison. He was surprisingly consistent for his age, which was only accentuated by the way his game sneaked up on you. In post game media sessions, Jamison could fill a tape recorder with clichés, but he would also give long-winded answers, so one was always sure to find a good quote in there somewhere.
Much of what got lost in the reverberations from the Gilbert Arenas trade was that in Lewis, the franchise might have found their new Jamison. But in a weird twist of circumstance, Lewis means much more to this current group. Toward the end, Jamison was hanging on to hope in an uncompromising manner. He wasn’t on a rebuilding team, he was on a broken team … and he was trying to shoulder the load amidst futility. That philosophy reared its ugly head in the form of a paltry 1.2 assists per 36 minutes for Jamison as a Wizard during 2009-10, a career-low aside from the season he won the Sixth Man of the Year Award as a Dallas Maverick.