Darius Songaila, the coaches dream and a consummate teammate. I’ve made no secret that he’s been one of my favorite Wizards (if not ‘#1′) over the past couple of seasons … perhaps to the point where I’ll one day purchase a D-Song customized Wiz jersey and appear on Straight Cash Homey.net (although I’m not exactly the jersey wearing type). Songaila will undoubtedly be missed after being traded to Minnesota just prior June’s draft. But at least I can rest a little more comfortably now that he’s been moved to a good team in the New Orleans Hornets, where his contributions will be appreciated.
Songaila was unjustly criticized more than any other Wizard. Sure he was slow, white, and non-athletic … you know, the traits people only judge with a glance without digging below the surface. However, most who closely follow the Wizards realized the level of Songaila’s professionalism, leaving his detractors looking like an uneducated bunch.
Statistical critics will point to Songaila’s porous rebound numbers. And yes, for a 6’9″ bruiser, a dirty-working tough guy, they were far below where we would have liked them to be. His 5.4 rebounds/36 minutes last year was a career low, finishing below every Wizards big man, and a mere 0.3 points above Javaris Crittenton.
I was asking some of the other media members who would be the answer to this question: “Mike Miller is the Wizards/Bullets best white player since…..” There was no consensus. I will keep working on this. In a purely jesting, non-offensive way.
Steinberg’s nomination of Tom Gugliotta seems like a choice with which most of Wizards nation could concur. But thinking back, the organization hasn’t exactly had a history of illustrious contributions from the white man on the basketball court.
Fabricio Oberto can’t jump. He can’t lock down today’s athletic big man, nor keep up in a fast break sprint. Block shots? A career 0.6 blocks per 36 minutes says it all. He has a nice shooting touch, but don’t look for him to be a scorer. Hell, his career 60% from the free-throw line knocks on the door of atrocious. The guy even fouls at a per 36 minutes rate slightly more than Andray Blatche (however, I’m willing to bet that Oberto’s fouls are “smarter” than Blatche’s). Oh, did I also mention that he recently had heart surgery? Yuck.
Oberto is exactly what the Wizards need.
I’ve been contentious about Ernie Grunfeld pigeon-holing the final free agent big man target to 8-10 minutes per game. That announced strategy put way too much trust in Blatche and JaVale McGee. Plus, it limited the attractiveness of the job opening.
But I’ll be the first to admit that I’m neither a GM nor a coach. If this is the direction in which the guy I’ve come to trust would like to go, so be it. I’ll be behind the movement.
Naturally, I wanted to get the opinion of a Pacers fan-blogger on the potential deal. Tom Lewis of Indy Cornrows was kind enough to weigh-in via email:
[The] proposed trade definitely makes sense from an emotionless nuts and bolts perspective. I do think the Pacers are willing to move Foster and with Mike James involved the team could have additional cap room next summer. Plus, as an added bonus, assuming Jarrett Jack does not re-sign and the team keeps A.J. Price in play, James may be a good mentor for the rook since both hail from Amityville, NY.
The Diener/Crittenton parts appear to be a wash. Diener is in the last year of his deal and Crittenton has a team option next summer. Crittenton has some known flaws, namely his ability to shoot the three and too many turnovers which are two areas Jim O’Brien values highly which he proved last season by moving T.J. Ford out of the starting lineup. The physical upside to Crittenton’s game would be worth the gamble though since the team could let him go after the season, not a bad worst-case scenario.
Etan Thomas waxed poetic. He audaciously spoke out against the war. He stumped for Obama. He got huffy on the Huffington Post. For his social involvement, he’s a commendable guy. Vastly different from many of the NBA’s young money millionaires.
But when it comes to the goal of winning as a team, Etan’s social activity, which assumingly had a bearing on his locker room inactivity, need not apply.
The Wizards are much better off now that he’s gone.
Of course, this could mean drafting someone and selling them for cash (as the case with Billy Walker to the Celtics last season), or packaging it with Mike James’ expiring contract for some sort of help down low (please be the latter, please be the latter).
I’ve long thought that it was Ernie Grunfeld who made me eat crow after NBA Draft night 2008. But really, it was JaVale McGee. Ok, Grunfeld had big hand in serving what was fed to me. That’s why he’s the general manager with a team of trusted scouts and we are the blogger/fan people. But it was JaVale McGee who made the meal, proving us all wrong.
I really like the move Ernie Grunfeld made to get Javaris Crittenton, even if he doesn’t pan out. GM Gruns turned an over-hyped 2002 40th draft pick, who probably would have barely lasted with the Wizards, as he did with the Grizzlies, into a still developing/promising young point guard taken 19th in the ’07 draft.*
I could cite some of Oleksiy Pecherov’s mediocre numbers, including his assist per 138.5 minutes rate, but they’re a moot indicator as to his value to the franchise. The 23-year old just didn’t get enough time on the court. However, when a guy’s player evaluation from last year can be easily recycled, a bulk of responsibility lies on his shoulders.
Rail if you will on the Wizards’ player development, or lack thereof, and whether or not Ed Tapscott stunted growth. The fact remains that if Pecherov gave more reasons for increased run, the minutes would have found him, especially in such an injury plagued year. The epitome of his season’s effort was more when he got blocked by the 6’2″ Boobie Gibson in the last meeting against Cleveland than the few positive moments.
Already behind a prideful veteran exempt from the bench (Antawn Jamison), a rookie with more fire and defensive instinct (JaVale McGee), a role player with court smarts (Darius Songaila), an inconsistent prospect with a much better skill set (Andray Blatche), and the occasional Etan Thomas sighting, the Ukrainian goof-ball dubbed ‘Big Oily’ was already in a position where working extra hard was a prerequisite for more time.