I know everyone is aware that the near future is bleak for the Wizards, and that deals need to be made. The debate isn't over whether the Wizards should try to make changes, it's over what the Wizards should be willing to accept to make those changes. Those differences come from varied opinions of what our players are worth, and what the consequences of of not making deals are. I'd like to lay out the consequences of making no deal, and give my opinion of what we should expect to get for our "assets".
First, consider this, the status quo for the next two years:
This lineup alone puts the Wizards over the projected salary cap of $52M. Add one first round pick, a second round pick, and a few minimum contracts and the Wizards are close to the luxury tax for a team that might win 30 games. The Wizards won't be able to sign any of their own worthwhile free agents, let along other teams'.
These four players (basically Arenas and Jamison) put the Wizards at $40.3M, with a projected cap somewhere below the $52M I'm estimating from the previous year. Now we add two first round picks, maybe one MLE and more minimum free agents and we're once again over the cap. This team probably wins 25 games (unless we get lucky with one or both draft picks).
So then Jamison retires or leaves, and we have three 7th-12thish first round draft picks and a bunch of crap to finally START building around, with a very talented but no-defense, terrible-attitude point guard still on the books for insane money for two more years. This is the future we should all want to avoid in the worst way. But what should we expect to get for our current players?Players we should trade, with what I think we should expect to get (or in many cases, give) in return:
Arenas: He's the bad kind of untradeable right now. Void his contract if you can, or wait until the summer and see if we have enough assets to get someone to take him (e.g., take on a bad contract or two and give up McGee and Blatche). We might really be stuck with him for another year at least. On the other hand, we could take a page out of Stern's book and threaten to void his contract to get him to renegotiate a more reasonable deal (which we could then trade).
Jamison: Realistically, an expiring contract and a project or late first round pick. He could put a team over the top, but they'll pay dearly for it for two more years, which most teams won't do. If a deal isn't done by the trade deadline, we'll have to give up something good to get someone else to take him this summer. If Cleveland offers us anything more than Z's contract, we should jump on it.
Butler: An expiring contract and a low-probability prospect.
Haywood: He is actually our most valuable asset. We should be able to get an expiring and a mid-to-late first round pick. He could really help a playoff team this year.
Miller: Like Haywood, but not quite as valuable. We could (maybe) get an expiring and a bargain role player or late first rounder.
I think hoping for any more than the above, or thinking we can improve our situation by dealing anyone else is unrealistic. That said, I think we should try to do all of the above, if we can. That would put us in a position in 2011/12 where we have several young players which might pan out, a few 1st-8th draft picks and cap space. Probably one year away from competing for the playoffs as an up-and-coming team.