In their continued effort to use their cap space as a garage for their competitors’ bad contracts, the Wizards agreed to a deal that would send disappointing New Jersey Nets forward Yi Jianlian to Washington in exchange for forward Quinton Ross.
The Nets are also sending $3 million to cover most of the $4.1 million Jianlian is owed this upcoming season. Ross was set to make $1.1 million. The trade for Jianlian comes less than a week after the Wizards agreed to take guard Kirk Hinrich and two years and $17 million left on his contract from the Bulls. The Jianlian trade is yet another head scratcher. After all, the Wizards spent three draft picks on big men in last week’s draft and already have guys like Andray Blatche(who will miss three months with a broken foot) and JaVale McGee.
“We’ve got a player who’s had success in the NBA and at the same time is only 22 years old,” said Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld. “I think we’re concerned about our own situation, and this fits in with our plan of adding young players, players that can be part of a core going forward.”
Translation: We have no shot at signing Carlos Boozer and Amare Stoudemire. It’s interesting to me that Grunfeld would consider Jianlian someone who has “had success in the NBA”. Where exactly, Ernie? It took Yi a year to get shipped out of Milwaukee after moping throughout his rookie season because he wasn’t in a bigger market and then he was sub-par at best with the Nets. He averaged 12 and 7(both career highs) last year but only played 51 games. For his career, Jianlian is averaging 9.6 points and 5.8 rebounds a game. HE’S your answer at power forward? You didn’t want to at least TRY to sign Amare or Boozer first?
“We made a decision that we’re going to save some of our powder for the future and try to right now put a core of young players together that can grow and we can build with, and that is the reason that we do have those opportunities right now. ” Grunfeld continued.
No, Ernie, you have these opportunities because other teams that actually want to contend are looking for someone to take their bad contracts so they can use their cap space on….wait for it…..PROVEN free agents and they know you’re stupid enough to take those bad deals off their hands. Whatever “powder” you think you’re saving up, you must have been snorting it when you decided to pull the trigger on a deal for a colossal bust like Yi Jianlian. Jianlian is a outside shooting forward. He can’t defend and he doesn’t spend enough time in the paint to be a factor on the glass. Yet, he’s the guy you want to help build around. This is the biggest free agent class in recent memory. Teams like the Knicks and Nets have spent the last two years shredding salary so they can have a spending spree this summer. The Wizards had $20 million of cap space. So far, they’ve used part of that on three severely-lacking rookie big men, an overpaid combo guard and a 34% three-point shooter now playing for his third team in three years. Good job, Ernie.
Whether Washington had a decent shot at Boozer or Stoudemire is unknown, but you can’t build up expectations by drafting a cornerstone point guard like John Wall and then surround him with half-rate talent like Jianlian and Hinrich. The whole reason for exiling guys like Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison was that, theoretically, the Wizards were going to make a splash in free agency. Now, they only have one card to play: Trading Gilbert Arenas(which sources say can and will happen, but you never know with Grunfeld calling the shots). If Grunfeld can turn Arenas into maybe Rudy Gay from Memphis or a David Lee/Wilson Chandler package, then he can consider himself exonerated for all past criticisms.
However, trades like the one Grunfeld made today, does not give me(nor should it give Wizards fans) any hope that Ernie can turn a decent trading chip like Arenas into something worthwhile.
About the Author
Written by Dave Leonardis
Born and raised in New Jersey, I've been writing since I was 10 and blogging since I was 18. I'm a huge sports nerd, following football, baseball and basketball in particular in close detail. My style is very upfront. I don't pull punches and I'm not shy about criticizing anything I feel deserves a proper tongue-lashing. If you're looking for someone who says what he wants, when he wants, then look no further than this guy right here.