In hopes of returning to the NBA postseason, the Washington Wizards shipped Oleksiy Pecherov (F/C), Darius Songaila (F/C), Etan Thomas (C) and its 2009 first round draft pick (No. 5) to the Minnesota Timberwolves for guards Mike Miller and Randy Foye. Both teams, for different reasons, fared well in this transaction.
Minnesota now has four first round picks to work with (Nos. 5, 6, 18 and 28). It can either use those picks to build a nucleus with four fresh faces, or, according to Comcast SportsNet, take the likely route of dangling two of those as leverage to move up in the draft and acquire the services of Spanish guard Ricky Rubio or Connecticut center Hasheem Thabeet.
On the other hand, the nation’s capital gets one of the game’s better perimeter shooters in Miller. There’s also Foye who averaged 16 points, 3 rebounds and 4 assists a game last season. He gives the Wiz Kids a multifaceted player that runs both shooting and point guard positions. He’ll also serve as an insurance policy to the oft-injured Gilbert Arenas. If the big three, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison and Arenas can stay healthy, the attention they garner from opposing defenses will likely provide open shots for Washington’s latest transfers.
While Washington has beefed up an already deep fleet of guards, what about its primary need of a power forward? Jamison, who is the most reliable player on the team with a 22 point, 9 rebound average, is aging and battles injuries. Andray Blatche doubled his point average from a season ago with 10 a contest, but is he ready to be the premier enforcer this team needs in the paint? Dominic McGuire is still in search of his identity. Finally, in his rookie campaign as a forward/center, JaVale McGee put the association on notice of his energy and with fine tuning, could become a big man to keep an eye on. Again, the Wizards are in need of a solid power forward. He doesn’t have to be a scorer because there are plenty of those on the roster. Flip Saunders needs one that sets a paint presence so telling that ball handlers will reconsider driving to the basket. Not to mention, the team has rid itself of deadweight contracts, thus freeing up money to pay incoming players.
With the Los Angeles Clippers owning the No. 1 overall pick, Blake Griffin is out of the question. Washington has one pick to work with (Second round, No. 32), which forces general manager Ernie Grunfeld to either find a “diamond in the rough” from the remaining power forwards at point of the draft, or see what’s out there in free agency. Call me crazy, but with Washington being thin in that position, I think he’ll do both given the situation of its current big men. Think about it! With the gaping difference in production between Griffin and the rest of the power forwards of the 2009-10 class, why not have a back-up plan in the form of an Al Harrington, Pops Mensah-Bonsu or Chris Andersen? Look for the Wizards to light both ends of the rope in filling a much needed void.
Written by Antoine Hoffman