Both Yahoo! and ESPN are reporting that the Wizards are dealing the #5 pick, Etan Thomas (and his $7.34 million expiring deal), Darius Songalia and Oleskiy Pecherov for the T’Wolves in exchange for Randy Foye and Mike Miller.
And holy hell did the Wizards just become interesting. Go ahead and pick your starting five from this group of six:
Here’s the bench as things currently stand: Andray Blatche, DeShawn Stevenson, Dominic McGuire, JaVale McGee, Nick Young, Mike James, Javaris Crittendon
Those are your current top THIRTEEN Washington players.
On the surface, this is team that could really run the floor. The rotation now has two primary shooter/ball-handlers (Arenas and Foye) plus a bunch of 6’8”-type wing players with varying degrees of perimeter shooting skill (Butler, Jamison, Miller, McGuire). They have the potential to be very, very tough to guard.
They also have the potential to be a much better three-pointing shooting team than they were last season, when they were 29th in the NBA in three-point FG% and 25th in total three-point attempts. For all the attention on the ‘Zards putrid defense (and they were 29th in the league, allowing 113.6 points per 100 possessions), they were an almost equally bad offensive team–26th in offensive efficiency.
They figure to be much, much better than that with the ball next season.
But are they now a contender? That will be decided as much on defense as on offense. Last season, the Wizards guarded two-point jumpers at a nearly average rate but could not defend three-point shots or inside shots, according to 82games. Only the Heat, Nets and Kings allowed teams to shoot better from deep, and no one even approached the Wizards level of incompetence in defending the interior. Teams hit 65.5 percent of their inside shots against the Wizards, by far the worst rate in the league. It didn’t help that the Wizards had the fifth-worst defensive rebounding rate in the league, according to Basketball Reference. Put-backs are often pretty easy shots.
This trade can’t make the ‘Zards worse at guarding the three (right?), but it leaves them awfully dependent on Haywood and two inexperienced bigs (McGee and Blatche) to guard the paint.
It makes you wonder if the Wiz have another deal planned for a big man, or if they will be competing for the mid-level type big men on the market. (Mikki Moore may be available for the right price, Wiz fans). Miller and Foye both have expiring contracts (worth about $13.5 million combined), so the Wiz still have trade chips to play with even though they just unloaded Thomas’s deal. (They also managed to unload Songalia’s contract, which contains a $4.8 million player option for 2011. Nice work by Ernie Grunfeld).
In any case: Should we now add the Wiz to the Cavs/Magic/Celtics trio of Eastern Conference contenders? Do you fear the Wiz?