King said it was difficult to give up the pick, but "in meeting with our scouts, we felt the player that we may draft beyond the protection would be somebody that would probably take a couple years (to develop), and at this point, we're trying to speed the process up a bit and start winning (more).
"I can understand the fanbase (wanting us to keep the pick), but I'd rather try to balance the roster, add a piece and still have cap flexibility," King said.
A team source told ESPN.com's Chad Ford the Nets were willing to part with their top-3 protected pick because there are only three players in the upcoming draft the Nets covet -- Kentucky'sAnthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Kansas' Thomas Robinson.
And, of course, there was the Wizards' transparent desire to trade the No. 5 pick in 2009 for veteran help, which landed them Randy Foye and Mke Miller.
I bring these up not to rule out trading the pick. If I were Ernie Grunfeld, I'd be open to pretty much any means to improve the team. I bring these up because those are the kinds of decisions that get made when a team makes an assumption about a draft class and seeks out trading the pick.
The default position for any team should be to keep their draft pick and use any other scenarios as alternatives, not the other way around. No matter how deep the draft class may be, it still offers clubs their best chance to receive cheap talent with upside that can be molded into core players. Prospects have a clean slate and rookie contracts. Players already in the league often don't. More importantly, every time someone telegraphs their interest in a trade, it devalues the pick as an asset.
To be fair, based on Grunfeld's appropriately-vague comments to Michael Lee of the Washington Post, that appears to be how the Wizards are handling things this time around:
When asked whether he feels as compelled to keep the pick as in past seasons, Grunfeld said: "Everything is on the table. We're going to explore our options and prepare for any scenario. I think it's a little bit different [this year]. We'll see what's out there for us. But at the same time, regardless of where we end up, we'll be prepared to make a pick."
Grunfeld also said that while you can never "depend" on a rookie having an immediate impact, the Wizards will "try" to get a player that can "help us down the road, if not next year." Back in 2009, Grunfeld was using that rhetoric as a reason not to make a pick. Here, it does seem a little different.
Nevertheless, I do hope the Wizards continue to assume they will be using whatever pick they get unless something better comes along. There are a lot of reasons why more young talent is needed on this roster. Namely:
- Outside of John Wall and Bradley Beal, the Wizards lack any building blocks for the future. The 2011 draft appears to have been a disaster, and the frontcourt is getting older. When the Wizards think about their future by the time Wall and Beal both are on their second contracts, who else will be joining them? There isn't anyone on the roster that can stand side-by-side with them as an additional core piece.
- Draft picks are cheaper, which matters because the Wizards are right at the level of the salary cap, likely need to save a big chunk of their mid-level exception if they want to keep Martell Webster and have an owner that has publicly stated he has "no intention" of going over the luxury tax.
- While this draft is weak in high-level talent, there isn't a huge difference between picks 3 and 8. A lot depends on development, finding the right fit and the like, but there's no reason the No. 8 guy can't prosper with proper training. There are a lot of complimentary pieces available.
- "Weak drafts" often turn out to be strong drafts. See: 2011 and 2009.
- Veteran, near-all star: Positives: an upgrade in immediate talent as the Wizards try to get serious, another veteran to help provide an example for the youngsters. Negatives: likely will cost a lot of money, may not be around in the team's future, unlikely to be available unless a team has a good reason for dumping them.
- Youngster that hasn't worked out with another team: Positive: you still get a player with upside even if you don't draft them. Negatives: teams rarely give up on rookie-contract players unless there's a good reason, and any hope of rehabilitating said player involves washing away whatever development stink caused them to be a disappointing for their old team.
- Role player: Positives: you know what you're going to get with this person/people and you can attach other considerations (move down rather than move out of the draft; dump a bad contract) to the deal. Negatives: you're trading a lottery pick for a caliber of player available cheaply in free agency every year.