Who's ready to get eliminated in the first round? I am!
To be fair, Matt Moore isn't the first to characterize the Trevor Ariza/Emeka Okafor acquisition as 'Win-Now', he's just the latest. It's not that he's necessarily wrong, either. But there's a faint odor around 'Win-Now' that gets a lot stronger when mentioned in concert with any rebuilding effort.
'Win-Now' moves, acquiring assets of questionable long-term value balanced against immediate results on the court, is typically the province of contenders looking to make a run at the Finals. Contemporary wisdom dictates that sinking strategic resources such as court/development time and cap space into veteran players on a team not pushing for a championship will result in a playoff hell team. So why not worry that's exactly where the Wizards are headed?
'Worst to First' is a wonderfully American trope. We love the Cinderalla rags-to-riches tale and lo, the NBA draft lottery feeds the dream. Of course, no one is going to call Ted Leonsis an impractical man, and in the absence of transformational player (John Wall may get there yet, of course, and the book is barely cracked for Bradley Beal) there must be a practical plan.
Not everyone agrees, to put it politely, that John Wall-Jan Vesely-Bradley Beal form a franchise core. For now, there's that lack of a transformative talent, which the team must have to contend and won't discover without help. When I look at the Rashard Lewis dump, I could easily call the trade 'Learn-To-Win-Now'.
John Wall isn't going to be on a rookie contract forever. The aging of contracts and drafting a gaggle of players in two years means the Wizards will face a salary crunch and some tough decisions in the near future and as much as we've learned about our rookies, the NBA playoffs is a different animal. Seeing them under some of the brightest lights professional sports can offer will provide more data when it comes time to make those tough decisions.
Progress, in this case, means moving out of the cellar, and in the NBA, you have to do that by stepping over and on the teams in front of you. That's no small task or learning curve and looking at the Ten Point Plan, the move should have come as little surprise:
8. Add veterans to the team via shorter term deals as free agents. Signing long-term, expensive deals for vets is very risky. We try to add vets to the mix for two year or three year deals. They fill in around our young core. They are very important for leadership, but they must complement the young core (NOT try to overtake them or be paid more than them). Identify and protect the core. Add veterans to complement them, not visa versa.
The Wizards always had a (cap space) gun to their head when it came to the 2010 draft class' expiring rookie deals. Adding veterans with playoff experience to the mix, with significant expiring deals when it comes time to make a decision on those young players, addresses several needs at once. When it comes to the trade 'Win-Now' isn't a dirty word.