By Mark F. Gray
For the last three years the Washington Wizards have been holding onto the hope that once their “Big Three” was back together they would again become one of the elite teams in the NBA. They made financial investments in Gilbert Arenas and Antwan Jamison in hopes of making a championship run but thanks to injuries and immaturity it never came to be.
With the trade of Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood to the Dallas Mavericks the dismantling of the once promising trio of the Arenas, Butler, and Jamison era is no more. The big three won’t bring a championship to the District and will take its place amongst other trios throughout the organization’s history who underachieved and left fans disappointed.
However, unlike the days of Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, and Rasheed Wallace whose arrogance and entitlement were the major culprits in that failed attempt, this failure only magnifies the lack of foresight by the front office. The Wizards did a poor job of surrounding their all stars with capable role players who could help the team move beyond the first round of the playoffs.
When team president Ernie Grunfeld told Comcast Sportsnet’s Chris Miller the team grew “stale” any basketball fan has to assess who really allowed the locker room produce to go bad. The bad first round drafts picks such as Nick Young and Oleksiy Pecherov made no contributions but had their deals extended. When given a chance to add Brandon Jennings or Stephen Curry they chose to trade for the likes of Randy Foye and Mike Miller who have not changed the team’s direction.
The offseason moves were supposed to be an infusion of energy and substance but instead the same stench on the bench remains. If things go stale a trade shouldn’t reduce the accountability of the guy who bought the groceries especially when the fresher items haven’t produced this year.
Lost behind the trades and the theory of rebuilding is where does the team go from here. Everyone who feels the team needed to be blown up and put back together has to ask if there is an architect on F Street who can lay the right foundation with over $20 million in salary cap room heading into a lucrative free agent marketplace with players who can help turn things around quickly.
The fans who have purchased season tickets deserved better than this. How many more wait until next year emotional and financial investments should they have to make before things ultimately get better? The only winners to this point in this purge are Butler, Haywood, and DeShawn Stevenson who find themselves thrust into a legitimate championship hunt while Wizards fans are left to wonder where do we go from here… again.
However, I propose a new trade scenario. Let’s trade Grunfeld for two legit talent evaluators and a team president to be named later!!