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Why the Wizards must pursue a transformative player this summer

Everyone wants to be the start of something big. That's how the Big 3 formed in Miami. That's why Dwight Howard gave up millions to sign in Houston. That could be what brings a superstar to D.C. at some point. But you have to barge through that door yourself.


If there is no gettable marquee player, then the Wizards shouldn't take the risk.

This was a common response to my piece imploring the Wizards to pursue to best free agents this summer. My problem with this sentiment does not arise with its logic. It is eminently logical. Faulty premises are another story. To properly disagree, let's examine the operational terms, then take a look at the big picture.

If there is no 'gettable' marquee player, then the Wizards shouldn't 'take the risk'.

'Gettable': this term assumes there are players which cannot be acquired by trade or free agency.

The fault? No one can be certain which lever will move a player. At first, Kevin Love wanted LA but was open to New York. Then the Warriors and Bulls 'intrigued' him. Who knows what team might capture his interest? Most probably, those who inquire. Do the Wizards have enough to offer in trade if Love can be sold on the Wizards? That last bit is important. I don't know, and neither do you. Ernie Grunfeld may have the chance to find out from the only source that matters.

Carmelo Anthony wants to retire a Knick? This isn't his last contract. New York is a mess, Chicago's gearing up for a run at Melo and Washington should be, too. They inquired after him when Denver was preparing to trade him and I find it personally unthinkable the Wizards wouldn't make some kind of push during his prospective free agency.

The counter argument

Chris Bosh is earning the near max in an income tax-free state on a team with LebBon James and Dwayne Wade. Okay, that's a tough get ... provided Lebron remains in Miami. Bosh's skill set is an absolutely fabulous fit in D.C. and, well, you don't know until you ask. With the Wizards profile high as its been since the heyday of the Big 3 with the promise of more on the horizon, it's time to ask hard. (Sounds like a broken record, right?).

Greg Monroe scares you? That's because investing the max in a center that may never learn to quarterback a defense is a scary proposition. So the Wizards offer what they are comfortable with and the Pistons are forced to match and continue playing Monroe out of position next to Andre Drummond. Just because the Wizards pursue Monroe doesn't mean they have to offer a max contract. If it's not enough, it's not enough.

'Take the risk': what risk is this term referencing again? There is an informal bargaining period before free agency kicks off in July. The vaunted 'risk' is academic. Should the Wizards successfully negotiate before the curtain goes up, they've acquired a transformative element. If not? Trevor Ariza and Marcin Gortat can be re-signed with Bird Rights intact. Only in the Monroe offer is there any actual risk in the form of renouncing a player's rights, and with the salary cap rising again, the Wizards will be able to afford to bring them back. Yes, Ariza and Gortat may also bargain with other teams, but the Wizards, like any club, can juggle multiple balls in the air.

The 'if, then' statement is a logical gambit as old as two people arguing. It is faulty if the premises does not guarantee the truth of the conclusion.

There is a fraternity of players. Those players talk. Sometimes they talk about playing together. Maybe about which teams are looking for major talent. Maybe about who's looking to spend, who's looking to contend.

The Wizards aren't going to be a part of those conversations, those thought processes, if they don't get out there and front. With their backcourt in place, it's the easiest thing in the world for Ernie Grunfeld to ask a marquee player if he wants to play in the Eastern Conference Finals next year, because that's exactly what a transformative element would provide this team. And that's the kind of line that gets you talked about, that makes an impression.

What if Love doesn't sign an extension and is available in 2015? What if Bosh or LeBron opt out? I think that Kevin Durant guy might be available in 2016. The Wizards can be a bigger part of those conversations if they make themselves a part of the conversations happening now.

If nothing else has swayed you? With the risks demonstrably low and the potential rewards so high, what is the point of restraint? You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take.