Multiple stress-related injuries to the same leg is damn worrisome any NBA player, much less a hopeful franchise building block. It won't do to panic too much, as Stephen Curry's don't-call-it-chronically-injured-ankle hasn't been a problem since he signed the most team-friendly contract in the NBA. The future is the future. The big question mark is how? For many NBA GMs, the future is now.
The Wizards' wing depth was already butter scraped over too much bread before Beal's stress reaction. Fans can hope Garrett Temple recovers his early-season form. Or Martell Webster regains the form that earned him a healthy chunk of the MLE. Or Rasual Butler rediscovers his blistering shooting. Needless to say, you don't want to bet your future on such things. What will Ernie Grunfeld bet on?
The trade deadline approaches with suddenly greater stakes. The Wizards were already in the market for wing depth, rumored to be interested in Kevin Martin. Martin is under contract through the 2016/17 season with about $21 million remaining on his deal. While Flip Saunders is executing a rebuild in Minnesota, one can't help but feel he'd squeeze the blood out of Ernie's turnips with the Wizards' backs to the wall as the playoffs approach. That's also a significant amount of salary to have on the books during the Summer of Kevin Durant.
The Denver Nuggets are reportedly seeking a first round pick for Arron Afflalo, which is a lot to ask for a very good player on a bargain contract with a player option for next season. Akbar thought perhaps both sides could swallow Martell, a first, and DeJuan Blair for Afflalo. Who says no?
Trading draft picks for a rental?
Or even worse, are would the Wizards be setting their future on fire for a few more wins? Before you get visions of Tobias Harris for J.J. Redick dancing in your head, ask yourself the last time the Wizards developed a player not named John Wall? The Wizards own a poor track record and Ernie Grunfeld hasn't drafted a player the organization has made good use of outside of the high lottery since Nick Young.
Trading for Afflalo may not consitute a rental, either. The Wizards require long-term help on the wing and Afflalo definitely fits the need. Of course, with the Wizards committed to Bradley Beal long-term, he may want to seek a starting role elsewhere. Or perhaps he'll find playing on an East contender as a sixth man is to his liking. That may very well be worth the risk.
But the Wizards haven't made reactionary moves in the rebuild.
Correct. However, they were already looking for help on the wing. With Beal's injury a 'need' has become a 'NEED'. Rather than a knee jerk response, acquiring a player of Afflalo's caliber on the outside provides championship-caliber depth and helps insulate the backcourt against future stress-related injuries.
Can we just keep our draft picks, please?
I get it. I really do. A first round draft pick is extremely valuable. An effective player can be had cheaply for four years while the team controls the rights for seven. It's just that my confidence level in this organization's ability to both choose and effectively develop a promising young player is pretty low. Even so, it would take acquiring a player like Afflalo with a reasonable shot at keeping him long term for me to come to terms with trading away a first round pick.
What do you say?
- Should Ernie leverage the Denver connection? He came out of nowhere to make the Nene trade and fans aren't complaining about that deal.
- Akbar tweeted the Wizards are a 50 win team that doesn't scare anybody in the playoffs. The Bulls might disagree, but I agree with his sentiment. Acquiring while successfully integrating and retaining Arron Afflalo could put this team into the fringe contender conversation. That's where it needs to be. Because...
- You didn't think this post could pass without further mention of Kevin Durant? The Wizards need to be in the mix of teams threatening for the Finals. The thoughts of going home to D.C. and multiple Finals trips should be synonymous and adding a player like Afflalo is a step in the right direction. It might make salary tricky, but with the new TV deal coming up, maybe not.
- On a personal note, perhaps you've heard Nick Young hates the Wizards? That doesn't sit well with me. Making a college rival part of the Wizards core moving forward would be a sweet topping to this deal. For this reason alone I'd love to welcome Arron All-fall-down to D.C. (Nick Young's mother's pet name for Mr. Afflalo.)
What's your ideal trade acquisition to fill out the wing in light of Bradley Beal's recurring injury?