You might think it's not a big deal that the Washington Wizards sold away a second-round pick that is likely to amount to nothing for cash. Technically, it isn't. The chances of the Wizards passing up the chance to have the next Manu Ginobili are miniscule. At worst, they likely surrendered the chance to pick an eighth man.
But the fact that this has happened again for the second time in five years reveals something more troubling. It reveals a franchise that doesn't value exploring all avenues to add talent. It reveals a franchise not interested in trying to find a steal that can play cheaply. It reveals a franchise that doesn't value young talent enough, which, in turn, makes you wonder how much they value development. It reveals a franchise that, frankly, isn't doing everything it can to improve its roster.
Yes, teams sell picks sometimes, and teams stash away random players you've never heard of that may never come stateside. The Minnesota Timberwolves sold a pick two spots earlier to the Brooklyn Nets, for example. But the Timberwolves had two other second-round picks and 12 players under contract next year. They couldn't add that many rookies to their roster.
That situation does not describe the Wizards. Washington currently has only six players under contract; seven if Andre Miller is retained. If they keep Marcin Gortat and Trevor Ariza, that's nine. The minimum roster limit is 13, so that still would have left four players to retain on the roster. They had plenty of room to add a second-round rookie if they wanted to do so, and there were some potentially useful players on the board, especially up front, where the Wizards currently have only one player under contract. Yes, the Wizards have some free agents, but they shouldn't keep all of them anyway.
Instead, they sold their pick.
This is a move that only benefits Ted Leonsis' pockets. At best, it helps pay for the next year of the Andray Blatche amnesty, which of course was a move made thanks to an ill-fated extension by the man who remains the general manager. Thus, it takes a logical leap and some spin to suggest this move directly benefits the Wizards' roster.
One defense I've seen of the Wizards' actions is that all the players they wanted were gone anyway. If we accept that logic -- and I don't think it's a slam dunk that we should because it assumes the Wizards' talent evaluation is infallible, and nobody's is -- it still doesn't hold up to their actions. Why not then cue up a trade for a future asset like a second-round pick? Why not pick someone to stash overseas, international or otherwise? (The practice of selecting American college players and sending them overseas is becoming more common around the league). There are other moves that more directly help the team than to sell a pick for cash even if the Wizards made the decision that no player available in this draft had even a one percent chance of helping their team.
It's all especially disappointing because Grunfeld, for all his troubles at the top of the draft, has shown he can find talent late. His best draft pick was Michael Redd at No. 43 in 2000. He found a nice one in Blatche in 2005, though obviously the third contract did not turn out well. Shelvin Mack, picked No. 34 in 2011, has turned into a useful NBA player, albeit for another team. The jury is still out on Glen Rice Jr. and even Tomas Satoransky. Point being: Grunfeld can do this if given the chance. Instead, he didn't get it.
I'm not even sure what the best term for this odd behavior actually is. The Wizards certainly aren't cheap, a term many will use. They'll likely turn around and pick up the extra $4 million or so on Andre Miller's contract and they could give Gortat and Ariza big contracts this summer. They also spent right up to the luxury tax line last year and should do so again. Maybe this description from Umair is more accurate.
This is an organization that has no interest in developing more young talent— Umair Khan (@UKhanNBA) June 27, 2014
I'm not sure exactly what to call it, but as a fan, it disappoints me greatly that this avenue to potentially add more talent to this team wasn't explored, even if the possibility of finding said talent is somewhat remote. Smart organizations don't pass up free chances to pick up pieces to save a few bucks.