Dear Washington Wizards,
Hi. Amin here. Long-time watcher, long-time blogger. I think you and I have known each other long enough that we have come to expect a few things from one another. Sometimes I'll get grumpy when one of you takes a contested 21-footer with 17 seconds left on the shot clock. Sometimes I'll only shout "DE-FENSE" because the PA system reminded me. I think we've been together long enough that you know what you're getting from me.
And you know, I thought that about you, too. I could always count on you to come out listless at halftime, only to stage a comeback that would end up just a little bit short. And I could also count on you to outbid other teams for the services of guys on your own team. Remember when you guys extended Andray Blatche for no reason? Remember when you used the amnesty clause on him before his extension even kicked in? Remember when you signed a backup point guard on the first day of free agency with the entire bi-annual exception, only to see him play about 15 minutes the entire season then eventually get traded? Remember that time you drafted a bunch of guys in the first round whose options were later declined because they never saw the floor? Or that time a guy with two bad knees somehow still got a max contract?
Those are the Wizards I knew and loved. Those are the ones who I could depend on.
Until this past week.
Now, you've become a team that signed Marcin Gortat, a skilled big, to a competitive market-rate contract. Then, you went ahead and tried to re-sign Trevor Ariza, which is a good thing because we all liked how Ariza played last year. But it's a tricky thing too, because we like him for things that the team might be able to get elsewhere for cheaper. And at the end of the day, Ariza signed with Houston, and that wound up being a good thing -- for you, for us and for Ariza. The Old Wizards would have overpaid him while simultaneously stunting Otto Porter's development.
Instead, The New Wizards went out and got a huge name -- Paul Pierce -- for a fraction of what Ariza's getting paid in Houston. He's a complementary piece to Porter as well as a well-respected player around the league with a championship pedigree. And he brings some of those things that Ariza brought, while Porter (and Martell Webster) can bring the rest. You knew that, and that's why you did it.
Just when we didn't think it could get any better than Pierce, you started shoring up the bench! We bid farewell to Trevor Booker -- bye Cookbook! -- and said hello to Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair. Both of these guys are good role players on cheap contracts. The icing on the free agency cake? You didn't add useless long-term salary past 2016, when you'll likely try to make a real push to lure Kevin Durant to D.C. Planning for this season? Planning for the future? Staying competitive and getting better?
Oh, and how could we forget about Otto Porter and Glen Rice Jr. playing their butts off in Summer League? We couldn't, actually. We could never forget about them, because they're great.
Now, Washington, you've left me confused. I thought I knew you, but you've changed. You've changed a lot. You're confident. You're well put-together. You're stable and balanced. You're spending money on all the right things, you're being thrifty on other things and you're even saving for a rainy day.
I thought I knew you, Washington. But I was wrong. That was the old you. This is the new you.
And I like the new you. I hope you stick around for a while.