In last week's edition of Pollin', Wes Unseld was the runaway favorite for which former Bullet/Wizards would help the current team the most, with 38% of the vote. Unseld was followed by Chris Webber (13%), Elvin Hayes (12%), Moses Malone (11%), and Earl Monroe (9%). Surprisingly, Gus Johnson didn't amass a single vote, despite being one of only four players to have his number retired by the team.
On to this week's question. As we all know, there's a lot of rumors and speculation about what kind of deals the Wizards might be looking at on draft day. Save for Gilbert Arenas, who is basically untradeable at this point, no player has been spared from the rampant speculation. As we've gone through the different trade ideas, one thing that we haven't really established at this point is what the team's most valuable asset is at this present moment.
Although he failed to make it to the All-Star Game this season, one would have to assume Caron Butler is the most valuable asset as immediate impact goes. Jamison might have had a more consistent year and has been a little less injury-prone than Butler the last few years, but he's also older and has and richer contract than Butler. And sure, if Gilbert Arenas can get healthy and return to his pre-injury status, you would have to assume he would become the most valuable asset. But until he can prove that, his knee and his hefty contract give him enough red flags to scare off any suitors.
Of course, there's also the asset that's been the subject of most of the trade talk so far: The #5 pick. Even in a down year, general managers always crave cheap, young talent and there's no better place to get that than in the NBA Draft, especially when you have a high pick. Even if the calibur of player that the Wizards can land with the #5 pick is a tier below the talent level of the players rumored so far (such as Terry/Howard, Ginobili, and Stoudemire) that's still an impressive haul in a down year for the draft.
Then there's always the economic situation that needs to be considered. Even NBA teams have felt the pinch from the slumping economy and now more than ever, teams will be looking for ways to dump salary, even if it sometimes means sacrificing talent. Perhaps this was no more evident than at the trade deadline when an anonymous GM told Chris Ford that the Blazers had received better offers for Raef Lafrentz and his expiring contract than the Suns had received for Amare Stoudemire. If that's the case, then perhaps Mike James' expiring contract has more value than either Caron Butler or the #5 pick on the open market.
Finally, we always have to consider JaVale McGee among the most valuable assets that the Wizards currently possess. Perhaps I'm showing my hometown bias here, but I don't think JaVale would have any chance of falling past the 10th pick had he chosen to stay in college this season. If you think the #5 pick is the team's most valuable asset and you like JaVale McGee more than anyone that will be left on the board at pick #5, perhaps it's worth considering that JaVale McGee at the tender age of 21 is the team's most valuable asset.
I'm still inclined to believe that Caron has more value to the team than any other asset the team currently holds. It makes him enticing to so many teams and simultaneously hard to find a reason to deal him away. But alas, it's not my decision to make. The choice is yours.