Ah, the Wiz Kidz. It wasn’t too long ago that Deshawn Stevenson was pulling this type of BS in the District and Gilbert Arenas was the king of all things swag. Those days seem to go as quick as they came and the Wiz are building from the ground up again.
Rashard Lewis: 22.15 million
Andray Blatche: 6.4 million
John Wall: 5.5 million
Yi Jianlian: 5.4 million (qualifying offer)
Nick Young: 3.7 million (qualifying offer)
JaVale McGee: 2.46 million
Kevin Seraphin: 1.68 million
Trevor Booker: 1.3 million
Jordan Crawford: 1.12 million
Total: 40.68 million
Mike Bibby: 5.56 million
Josh Howard: 3 million
Al Thornton: 2.8 million
Mo Evans: 2.5 million
Cartier Martin: 854,389
Some other deadbeats: 1 million
Total: 15.9 million
I would like to point out at 22.15 million and 11.7 ppg, Rashard Lewis makes up over half the payroll, less than one-eighth of their offensive production and 100% of Wiz number 1 fan Andy Orfalea’s basketball nightmares.
Let’s work on a basic theme here: Defense, rebounding and ball-sharing. These are three things that the Wizards either don’t know how to do, or simply don’t care to learn. Everything going forward will focus on this. Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler and Gilbert put up points at a prodigious clip; but where did that get them? One series win, a Dirty Harry locker-room pantomime and Yi Jianlian. Defense, rebounding and ball-sharing. Remember that.
1) With the number six pick in the draft, take San Diego State’s Kawhi Leonard
Rebounding? Check. Defense? What else did San Diego State do this year? I’d take Leonard over the other guys floating in this general reason of the draft (Tristan Thompson, any of the Euros) as he can make up for Blatche’s defensive and rebounding deficiencies, as well as fill the void that Caron and Antawn left. I like this guy a lot and I think he’ll add a lot of character to this young Wiz squad.
2). Goodbye Nick Young and Yi
Defense, rebounding and ball-sharing. The scary thing about this is that Yi might have a better handle on what these English words mean than Nick Young does. I’m always pulling for Young, as he is a fellow San Fernando Valley-born child of the 80’s, but this is addition by subtraction. Both him and Yi cannot play the type of basketball that is needed to win titles. Peace out gentlemen.
3). Give Trevor Booker more burn, but obtain another big with the 18th pick
Rebounding. From what I saw from Trevor Booker this year, the boy can rebound despite his size. Okay, check. But with the 18th pick, Bismack Biyombo, Kenneth Faried and Markieff Morris might be available at this spot. Take whoever can rebound the ball best and hope that it translates to the major league level.
4) Preserve that cap space
Attention National Basketball League: Sam Presti exists and we will all follow his lead. The Wiz are not a small-market franchise. They operate out of the District and are backed by the deep-pocketed Ted Leonsis. They have and will spend money to win. BUT – unless John Wall takes a Rose-ian leap this year, I don’t think you can expect contention, even for a playoff spot. I would absolutely spend my money on lower-tier free agents – guys who can REBOUND, PLAY DEFENSE and SHARE THE BALL. In the meantime, you let Wall, Leonard, Jordan Crawford, McGee and whoever you get with the 18th pick develop TOGETHER. You know how ball-sharing happens? With a good offensive scheme (Flip Saunders’ specialty), a great point guard and guys that trust each other. This happened with Oklahoma, San Antonio, the Lakers, Boston, Dallas, the list goes on – with the exception of the Lakers, all of these teams had more than a serviceable point guard who commanded and efficient offense (that got a lot of offensive breaks off defensive stops) that played with each other long enough to earn each other’s trust. That’s what this Wiz squad needs. The perfect free-agent signing just isn’t there yet. Save that cap space and wait to strike. The time hasn’t come yet.
5). Sign a couple of veteran, back-up guards
Like the young Sacto squad, this team needs more veteran leadership. While no one is on the DeMarcus Cousins bonehead level (few are), Andray Blatche got caught for soliciting an undercover cop (I’m not saying that this is unusual for an NBA player, I’m just saying it’s boneheaded of Andray to get caught. I mean, Kobe never gets caught). Most of the guys on the team are under 24 years old. Someone needs to come in there and show them how to be men. I think a trade for guys like Keyon Dooling, Anthony Carter or Jannero Pargo would be fantastic. Resigning Mo Evans wouldn’t be a bad idea, nor would Earl Watson or Charlie Bell. All these guys can give solid minutes, while provided some leadership for a minimal amount of money.
I have the Wiz 2011 line-up going something like this:
Dougie Wall, Jordan Crawford, Rashard Lewis, Andray Blatch, Javale McGee
Bench: Trevor Booker, Kawhli Leonard, veteran guard X, draft pick number 18
This is a solid core. The future is on the shoulders of Mr. Wall. Going forward, the rest of the team essentially has to act as his offensive-line, a la the 2011 Chicago Bulls for Derrick Rose. Defense, rebounding, ball-sharing – don’t forget it Washington.