When a team is this bad, fans have to escape into “trade + draft” escapism. It basically is prefaced with the phrase “Yes, but if we trade for..” or “if we win the lottery and draft…” This is such a column. Enjoy the escape. It’s way more fun than talking about Nick Young’s inability to pass, JV’s inability to shoot, or our team’s inability to win.. Here’s how I fix the Wizards and save my job if I'm Ernie Grunfeld.
1, Trade Nick Young
There are very passionate Nick Young supporters. Extremely insanely passionate Nick Young supporters. I’m not one of them. I think he’s a fine 6th man, but lacks the skills to be a starting SG. Nevertheless, even if I thought he was a starting SG, Ernie needs to trade him. He’s on the last year of his contract. He has given zero indication that he’s interested in staying in Washington. Assuming some of the reporting is true, Nick Young wanted to go elsewhere and resigned with the Wizards because no other team bid what he wanted. Right now, Nick Young is on a very tradeable contract, getting 3.7 million for 1 year. However, Nick Young has the right to veto any trade, as part of his Bird Rights. EG needs to work with Young’s agent to make sure any trade goes through. However, I think Nick Young will be willing to be traded to any playoff team. Why? It’s the only way he’ll get the type of money he wants. Absent a trade, Nick Young can’t dodge the “loser” label that permeates most NBA beat writers commentary on him. If Nick Young can play in New York, Boston, LA, Chicago, or Dallas, he has a shot to earn a better reputation. Playing well in the playoffs gets you paid significantly more than playing well on a 20-44 team. I would trade Nick Young for any playoff team’s late first round. I think New York is the best target. The Wizards could package Nick Young and the 2nd round pick they were going to get from New York for Iman Shupert and one of the players on the veterans minimum and 2013 1st round pick. A Baron Davis-Nick Young-Melo-Amare-Tyson Chandler team would have the perimeter firepower to succeed in D’tonni’s system. (However, I’m not sure they’d have the selflessness.) However, Chicago also could benefit from his firepower. The Clippers and Lakers both need bench scoring. Moving Nick Young at the trade deadline will ensure the Wizards don't jeopardize their lottery position, and the team has additional assets in what looks to be a deep draft.
2. Trade Rashard Lewis Before the Next NBA Draft
Several people have argued we should just release him next year for the $13 million dollar. This is a colossal blunder. Rashard Lewis’s contract is one of the most valuable in the NBA. Rashard Lewis needs to be traded as part of a package to get another middle lottery pick. My favorite idea so far involves Detroit. If the Piston’s pick falls between 6-10, the Wizards should offer Rashard Lewis and his expiring contract and a 2nd round pick for Ben Gordon and Charlie Villeneavu/Tayshaun Prince and the Piston’s midlottery pick. The Wizards would get another key rebuilding component with the 6th to 10th pick. Ben Gordon could replace Nick Young’s production at SG. Why would the Piston give up a mid-lottery pick? It would save them roughly 30 million over the next two years.
If the Wizards pick twice in the top 10, they could two significant pieces in a deep draft. The Wizards could get a great inside-outside combo to build with alongside John Wall. If the Wizards are particularly lucky and pick first, they could get Drummond with their pick and Brad Beal with the Piston’s pick. If the Wizards get the 2nd pick, they could land Davis and Beal. If the Wizards pick 3rd, they could land Lamb, and could trade up with the Piston’s pick to get Sullinger. Alternatively, they could pick Sullinger with the 3rd pick and still land Beal with the Piston’s pick. If the Wizards fall outside the top 3, the possibilities are more numerous, but the Wizards can come away with at least one solid big man and one solid perimeter player.
A Wall-Beal-Singleton-Davis-McGee is a good core. The Wizards would have Mack, Crawford, and Gordon as backcourt reserves. That’s nice back-court depth. Obviously, the front-court is more chaotic, depending on JV and Seraphin to develop and AB and Charlie V to stay healthy. However, there is potential there as well. Against second string players, I like AB and Charlie V’s game a lot more.
3. Acquire Jordan Hamilton Before the Trade Deadline
Jordan Hamilton is an interesting SG-SF prospect. He’s on a very deep Denver team. The Wizards have enough cap space to acquire him without trading a single asset. The Nuggets would be almost under the cap if they made this trade. The Wizards lack perimeter shooters. Hamilton hasn’t shown anything in Denver, but maybe he could show something with playing time in Washington. If the Wizards move Young, I think they should give Hamilton a shot, provided the price isn't very high.
4. Hire Brian Shaw as Head Coach for Next Season
Brian Shaw was the heir apparent in LA, coaching there for the past seven years. He was held in high esteem by his teammates when he played. He has been part of the Indiana Pacer’s transformation this season. He’s still close enough to his playing days that he can relate to players. However, he’s seasoned enough as a coach to warrant a head coaching position. He would send a powerful message that the Wizards are serious about winning.
5. Bring Back Dave Hoopla Immediately
The Wizards top draft picks of the last two years both have serious issues with their jump shots. Other than Nick Young, nobody can be called a “marksman” with a straight face. The Wizards are near the bottom in FT%. The Wizards should bring back their most successful shooting coach.
6. Hire Danny Manning as a big man’s coach.
He had lots of success with Cole Aldrich, The Morris twins, Darell Arthur, and Thomas Robinson. While some people might be critical of bringing in a college coach, I think he’s the perfect fit for us. First, a lot of our big men are pretty raw and would benefit from some college style fundamental. Second, Danny Manning played in the pros. Third, our team is so young that I think he’d almost be coaching younger players if he came to the pros.
7. Retain Sam Cassel
Wall has made a connection with Sam Cassell. If at all possible, the Wizard should retain Sam. He did a great job with Shaun Livington. I think he did a really good job with Wall last season. While this season has been unremarkable, I think maintaining some consistency within the organization would be wise.