June 24, 2009
Through the years, I've taken in a bit of stick for seemingly finding no joy, light, or point to whatever transactions passed through the wire. Repeatedly calling deals that others saw as either "win-win" or "win-lose" as "lose-lose, suckers!" over and over again
Sorry for that, but that's what a strong sense of history tends to do to an attitude.
This time around? You're in luck, cats and kittens, because I do have to go in the opposite direction with this breakdown. Not unlike the cheerful (for me) tone that greeted the first two Milwaukee-based posts on the subject.
This is a good deal for the Wizards, and Timberwolves. Minnesota gets the fifth pick in tomorrow's Draft, along with Etan Thomas(notes), Oleksiy Pecherov(notes), and Darius Songaila(notes). Washington gets Mike Miller(notes) and Randy Foye(notes). Both teams will eventual get it wrong, that's something you can bank on. But for now, you cannot knock on things.
The Timberwolves have a new GM who wants nothing to do with what Kevin McHale brought on board. And Kevin McHale brought a ton of shoot-first "point guards" on board. Randy Foye can play, but he's also a limited player who seemed to do his best work last season at shooting guard, always going right.
And Mike Miller? Seemingly frustrated with being sent to the Timberwolves ("28 teams are better than the Grizzlies, they find the one team that's worse to trade me to?"), Miller spent the whole of 2008-09, and I don't toss this out there lightly, more or less throwing games.
The guy refused to shoot. All the transition threes (at least a 40 percent proposition, mind you; no chucking ‘ere) that dotted his time in Tennessee were lost in favor of extra and entry passes that plain were not needed. And it became a running joke between the press that were actually paying attention. Britt Robson, Steve Aschburner, and myself. Nobody else seemed to comment on it, because nobody else was watching, and nobody else seemed to care. You can't blame them for that.
Either way, these are two players that nobody in Minnesota will miss, and for good reason. Giving up on them ... worth it for the fifth pick and a good year having to pay Washington's retreads? That's another story. The same story, but another story. And one I don't think Minnesota should care about.
Listen, this team was thin, and set to have to extend Miller and/or Foye's contracts. And these were Kevin McHale acquisitions. Why act all sentimental with this lot?
Could you have gotten something with more name recognition from Miller's sizable expiring deal? Sure. Is Marcus Camby(notes) a good thing for your rebuilding team? Hell no. Fifth pick, take it. It might be an awful Draft. It might be akin to a 15th pick in most other Drafts. Doesn't matter. You had no use for Miller and Foye, anyway. Fifth and sixth picks in the Draft, while rebuilding. That works.
Washington? You just put off rebuilding. You just cashed in a year's worth of misery for, possibly, only a year's worth of Mike Miller and Randy Foye. You're deluding yourselves thinking that this is a championship (or, even with everyone healthy, a 50-win) core. I should hate this move. But, for some reason, I don't.
Washington is in one of those hardly-rare positions where, though they badly (badly, badly, badly) need to rebuild, isn't going to blow things up. They're refusing reality. And if you're going to refuse reality, well, might as well have some fun with it. Might as well try to average 110 a game.
Trade rumors dogged Washington's lottery selection from the beginning. And rightfully so. But don't let them tell you that this payoff isn't worth a lottery pick.
The Wizards can talk all they want about how they weren't going to trade Antawn Jamison(notes), and they'd be correct in that regard. Know why? It's because nobody wants Antawn Jamison. Everyone likes Antawn Jamison, he scores well and rebound sometimes and does nothing else, and isn't worth the contract extension Washington gave him last year. No team was biting for that contract, for this player.
Gilbert Arenas(notes) ... did we ever figure out what was wrong with his knee? Microfracture? Plenty of great players have come back from that sort of surgery, playing at an All-Star level, but how many depend on a series of crossovers and 25-footers to make their living?
So Washington piled it all together, and pulled in a couple of proven NBA scorers (provided, of course, Miller deigns to shoot) for a fifth pick that likely would have yielded the Wizards some sort of raw 19-year old shooting guard in a point guard's body. Instead of taking a risk on that, they acquired a proven shooting guard in a point guard's body, and a near-All-Star level shooting guard that fancies himself a tall point guard.
While dumping salary. While giving Flip Saunders, as close to an offensive guru as we have in this league, another batch of mid-range shooters for his offense, which is predicated around mid-range shooters.
Will Washington win a championship? Hell no. Are they even a lock for the playoffs? With this history of injuries? No. No way. Are they staving off a proper rebuilding that desperately needs to take place? Yes.
So it goes. It's not our money, and these are the pathetic straits the Wizards decided to dive into after they extended both Arenas and Jamison last year. Might as well make the best of it. And picking up two proven NBA scorers for a lottery pick in a crap draft, while easing the salary structure? That's a win.
And Minnesota, dumping the remnants of an era that should serve as embarrassing and little else? Go, team, go.
Neither team shook up the world with this deal, but they did make their side better. Much better. Good to see it.