Everyone thought that John Wall only brings happy thoughts, but he actually should be causing the Wiz quite a bit of stress on one front. I want to be clear that winning the draft lottery and the right to draft John Wall is the best thing to happen to this franchise in a long, long time. I believe, however, getting Wall creates a situation for the team that makes Ernie Grunfeld and co.'s job this offseason much more difficult than it would have been had we gotten any other pick. With any other pick , we would have continued with a 'regular' rebuilding process, but the Great Wall of Chinatown instantly makes us a playoff contender (read: better than the Nets) when paired with Gilbert Arenas and Andray Blatche. The general rule in sports is that you want to either be contending for a title, or completely rebuilding; and we suddenly find ourselves as one of those 'tweener' teams. Do we suddenly try to join the free agent bonanza or do we stay the course and rebuild? The easy answer is rebuilding, but we will likely not have a high lottery pick next year, and most of the spots/minutes on this team are already filled, leaving little room to develop more players. I know, know, I should stop and smell the roses, but hear me out after the jump
After drafting John Wall, I think the next easy decision for Ernie Grunfeld is to continue to try to trade Gil. I realize that his value could not be lower, but a team can not win a championship with him being paid almost $20 million unless King James miraculously decides to come here. The irony is that, outside of the salary cap space, in order to attract top talent we need to get Gil off of this franchise, as I don't think anyone wants to play with him. More importantly though, we need that contract off of the books, and do not need anything in return to make that a good move. The Knicks sound like the only possibility for a trade partner, and only if the right combination of desperation hits them in free agency.
The other easy 'decision' for the Wiz is to throw our hat into the ring for Lebron; As a wise man once told me, "You've got to be in it to win it." I do not think the Wiz should go after every free agent, just Lebron. I know our hatred runs deep, but he is the best player on the planet and would be a pleasure to watch and support as he teamed with John Wall. He instantly would make our team, or any other, a title contender and thanks to John Wall we at least have a tiny chance at him.
I will classify those no-brainers as highly unlikly and no happening, though, which brings me to the #1 offseason question of our salary cap space. The Wiz can either try for Amare Stoudemire, Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer and Dirk Nowitzki (Joe Johnson and Dwayne Wade aren't coming), or try the BOYD strategy; I was 100% on board with BOYD until we got John Wall. My problem now is that we just don't have enough minutes to really develop or test any young players we pickup. Given that Gil isn't going anywhere, we already have Wall, Gil, and Blatche soaking up the majority of the minutes at 3 spots for at least 2 years. The moderately proven Javale McGee is also better-off getting the minutes at the 5 than anyone we can take in this draft from the BOYD strategy (Cole Aldrich would be a dream), so the only spot where a lot of minutes are available is at SF. I understand that there are plenty of bench minutes, but what would we do with say Avery Bradley when Gil, Wall, and Nick Young are around and we are in the running for a playoff spot? Bradley would get very little burn for 2 years, which is not good for player development. There are still some guys we could target in the draft, so BOYD is a legit possibility, but now that we cannot completely tank next year, there are a lot fewer options.
That begs the question then whether free agency is the answer. My take is that signing any of these guys I mentioned while still having Gil does not make us a championship team, and we should be working under that assumption that we are stuck with Gil for at least 2 more seasons. If we could get Bosh (26 yrs old), Amare (27), or Boozer (28) to sign a deal of over 3 years, then I would be interested, as they could contribute now and after the Arenas era. I do not want Dirk, as he is already 31 and may not contribute much in the post Arenas era.Wall is the first piece of our next championship team, and I think any of those other 3 gives us the 2nd of the 3 players we need. Superstars of this caliber are not usually so easily available, so the Wiz would be crazy to not at least try for one of these guys now that we have Wall.
I thus think the best option is to shoot for the stars in free agency. I know we all want Carmelo next year, but that's putting too many eggs in one basket. Even if we did get a big FA, maybe we could still ship off or buy out Gil and chase Carmelo....and hold on while I take a cold shower. In reality, Bosh is following Lebron or D-Wade, and Amare is either doing the same, or staying in Phoenix; why would Stat leave the established MVP-caliber PG already contending for titles to join the unproven PG hoping to lead a team back into the playoffs? That leaves Carlos Boozer as the only semi-possible free agent that could be a good signing, but he also already has an MVP-caliber PG. Realistically, I don't think we'll be able to get any of the top FAs, but we should at least dip our toe into the water. If we strikeout with the big guys in free-agency, then I'd go with BOYD.
Grunfeld is known for a win-now mentality, and Uncle Ted is best known for rebuilding the Caps, so it will be interesting to see how ardently the Wiz go after the big names, and this pursuit, or lack thereof, may prove almost as important as winning the draft lottery.