Might as well leap right in with the woebegone Wizards, one of the more toubled franchises going. They spent the last year gradually unloading their cavalry of knuckleheads but alas, there is still work to be done. At least the mission is simple: ditch the wackos and put the right pieces around John Wall, so that the roster looks more like a competitive NBA team and less like this:
Yeah, it’s safe to say that finding a sucker to take Gilbert Arenas was the hard part, but it’s not as if Andray Blatche is gonna be any eaiser to unload, even if he’s only making a fraction of what Arenas did. Trouble is trouble after all, regardless of the cost. You know what they say about the one bad apple, nevermind four or five.
Stick to the plan
The Wizards nailed the draft, picking up a couple of serious athletes in Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton. It would appear the Wizards actually have a plan for building around John Wall, and it’s a good one. Surrounding a roadrunner like Wall with athletic wings who can run and defend will go a long way toward making them and exciting, dynamic team, even if they’ll take some lumps for a year or two. Better to have an exciting lottery team than a boring one. Re-signing a burgeoning scorer like Nick Young appears to be their priority, a wise move, indeed. All that’s left to do is fill out the roster with character guys and role players. If the Wiz can pull that off, they’ll be fielding a team that Wiz fans will hardly recognize, and that is a good thing.
Using the amnesty card on the wrong bad contract
This is a big one. Getting Arenas out of dodge was the hard part, but it hardly means they’re out of the woods just yet. Every day that Andray Blatche stays on this team is another day that his myriad bad habits can rub off on Wall and the rest of the young ‘uns. The longer he’s there, the more they’ll be at risk of learning all kinds of stuff from him, none of it good. Matador defense. Making desperate attempts to get contrived triple-doubles. Getting kicked out of practice. Refusing to go back into games because he wasn’t in the mood. You name it.
The good news is that the new bargaining agreement includes the return of the amnesty clause, a provision that gives every team a get-out-of-jail-free card for any bad contract on their roster. Yeah, some would think it wise to use the amnesty on Rashard Lewis’ 2 year, 46 million dollar deal, but Rashard Lewis couldn’t possibly be the kind of distraction Blatche is, and although he has no hope at all of justifying his contract he might actually be useful for this team. Even better, his deal will be off the books by the time the league’s stiff luxury tax penalty kicks in 3 years from now.
So yeah, this is a no-brainer.
This team can be fixed. The re-shaping of the roster feels about haflway done, and getting the rest of the way appears doable. Better yet, the Wizards still have about as much cap space as anybody, and if they use it wisely it might speed their timetable up by a year or two. Yeah, this is a thin free-agent class, but if they find themselves in the position to pick up another dependable veteran scorer to go with their collection of young talent, they’ll need to pull the trigger. David West would appear to be a perfect fit here, so long as they don’t over-pay.
For the first time in awhile, the Wizards appear to have some real potential. Here’s hoping they don’t screw it up.