What Now?

So we know that the Wizards are 0-5, are without two key players and have a third key veteran hurting (Antonio Daniels). This begs the obvious question: Where does this franchise go from here?

Yesterday, President Ernie Grunfeld, as is his style, was not very revealing when he was asked about moves he may be considering.

Grunfeld: "Basketball is a team game and you need contributions from all of your players, and we're not getting that right now."

Is he considering any changes?

Grunfeld: "We're always looking to improve the team if we can, but we believe in these guys. These guys have gotten it done for us in the past and if we stick together, play hard and play aggressive, good things can happen with this group."

On the surface, it doesn't appear that Grunfeld has a whole lot of options when it comes to this roster. Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison just signed huge extensions and Caron Butler is a two-time all star with a deal that runs through 2010-11. Assume that Arenas is unmovable. Trading either Jamison or Butler would essentially require Grunfeld to admit that his philsophy regarding this team the last four years has been totally wrong.

Also remember that both Grunfeld and Coach Eddie Jordan have been strapped by an organization that gets the shakes anytime the luxury tax threshold is approached. Thus, players like Roger Mason Jr., Matt Barnes and James Posey were never seriously considered this summer. Any of those vets would help this team tremendously right now.

As for the remainder of the roster:

Antonio Daniels, Etan Thomas and Brendan Haywood have deals that expire following next season, and, according to folks around the league I've spoken with, Daniels and Thomas won't be appealing until next summer or next season because any team wanting them will do so purely because they value the expiring contract.

The Haywood situation could depend largely upon how quickly JaVale McGee comes along. Then again, maybe Ernie decides to re-sign Haywood and play them together.

Regardless of the trade proposals, I don't see Ernie wanting to take on long-term deals because his best chance for having real money to spend will be during the summer of 2010 after Daniels, Thomas and Haywood come off the books.

Darius Songaila has a player option for the 2010-11 season that would pay him $4.81 million and it's hard to imagine him not picking that up, so good luck moving him unless he's thrown in to sweeten a deal involving another player.

DeShawn Stevenson, who has not played anything like a starter for a playoff-caliber team so far this season, has a deal that expires following the 2010-11 season when he is set to earn $4.15 million.

Andray Blatche would be appealing because you can always find a GM willing to gamble that his team can magically get the light bulb to come on (I'm really starting to wonder whether that will ever happen with the guy, but he is only 22), however, his contract is so favorable for the Wizards (he signed a five-year deal worth around $15 million last summer) it's hard to get equal value in return. What kind of player are you going to get for $3 million a year?

As for Eddie Jordan, I assume that he is safe for now given the fact that Arenas and Haywood are out and the fact that his option for next season was picked up this summer. The thing I can't measure is the limit of Grunfeld's patience and/or that of Abe Pollin, who has been extremely patient over the years.

One interesting note on Jordan: Yesterday, he was asked about the amazing longevity of Utah Jazz Coach Jerry Sloan, who has won a million games in a million years in Salt Lake City (okay, so it's 1,001 games since December of 1988, but who's counting?).

Jordan's response (see if you can read between the lines here): "It means that he's got tremendous support, number one. It means that he's had terrific players except for a few years when they were down and then they get the No. 3 pick and Deron Williams and they get a free agent in Carlos Boozer and it means that even in some non-playoff years, he stayed the course and believed in his principles and again, he had tremendous support."

Either way, the pressure on this team is going to seriously intensify if the losing continues. However, a win tonight over the Jazz (which played last night) and a win Friday in Miami (not out of the question) calms everything down and changes the perspective a little bit.

We all saw that last year after the 0-5 start. Bottom line: Grunfeld either has to be super creative and/or bold in tearing this team up during the season or, he has to be super patient and let things unfold. The second option means sticking with Jordan (changing coaches in the middle of a season almost never works anyway), watching the young guys come along and wait for the right opportunity to shake things up.

My take: It's still way too early to panic. We're five games in. Let's see how the next month or so unfolds.

Now, shoot the messenger if you feel the need ...

By Ivan Carter |  November 12, 2008; 3:39 PM ET
Previous: The Case for JaVale McGee | Next: Jazz at Wizards

Comments

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Good post. I agree with the last sentiment- that it's way too early, and a win tonight (which I personally guarantee will happen) and a win in Miami this weekend and everything changes.

Posted by: Barno1 | November 12, 2008 3:52 PM

No need to panic yet...Wiz have ALWAYS been a slow-starting team with/without CB3, AJ, Arenas, etc. If you ask me, the key to a decent season is to grow the talented youth on the team--sink or swim, play McGee and Nick Young, who are BEASTS in the making. Pull the foolish DeShawn "LeBron is overrated" Stevenson and the overpaid Etan "The Poet" Thomas.

Posted by: Crunkenstein | November 12, 2008 4:03 PM

To the rational fan of the Wizards it's obviously way to early to panic but come on Ives...u know how fickle and over-dramatic most of theses fans can be lol. But in fairness the Wiz have been playin extremely awful so i can see why a sense of panic but then again as long as we have Grunfeld i have faith that we'll make things work out for the best one way or another. Im tellin ya Grunfeld, even more so then Eddie Jordan, has been the catalyst for recent success this franchise has longed for so ya give it another month then start talkin pandemonium.

Posted by: DjB55 | November 12, 2008 4:23 PM

Forgot to say that any talk of not re-signing Haywood is laughable at this point. No matter how much McGee improves over the next year, you can never have too many good bigs. And Etan is as good as gone, Blatche is taking forever for the light bulb to turn on, and Pech is not a true big man.

Re-signing Haywood is an absolute must.

Posted by: Barno1 | November 12, 2008 4:25 PM

From the games I saw, the wizards have no hope if they continue to go with the same starters. How can you continue to get starter designation when you can't even beat your own reserves?

Posted by: tundey | November 12, 2008 4:30 PM

I don't think its panic after watching this team now for 3 years and seeing them not playing defense. Tired of hearing the excuses about injuries and how the "big three" have not had time to play together. It's time for Ernie and Eddie to figure out how to put a team out on the floor that likes to play defense, rebound and run the floor! Each year, I read how the coach is going to emphasis these things but the proof is in the pudding. He continually puts up w/ Gilbert's and Blache's antics and watch the less than stellar performances from Stevenson. I watch Antwan, Gilbert and a number of others jack up three's when the situation calls for a score any score and not the low percentage three. Young, McGee and McGuire are at least alternatives that need more oppurtunties.

Meanwhile Ernie should be exploring trades to break this team up!

Posted by: kpniehaus | November 12, 2008 4:31 PM

Neither Etan nor Songalia can play..let both go if you can..Blatche can definitely go - it's been 4 years...who cares if you don't get "value" for him? - he's a cancer that can potentially disrupt...Haywood should be resigned - he's finally developed/matured and rarely gets injured (in this case, an upper extremety - no prob)..Stevenson's just opened in a slump; he'll be fine.

Posted by: sunnyman1 | November 12, 2008 4:42 PM

I agree that the best policy is to wait. Eddie Jordan and Ernie Grunfeld have a proven track record, and deserve the benefit of a full season. McGee and Young have star potential, and Blatche could still turn it around this year. For all we know, Arenas could come back and '06 form next month, and Butler and Jamison will remain excellent. Haywood still has a year left on his contract, and he was a force last year. This is a team that is built to compete for the long haul. It would be a shame to dismantle it based on limited evidence.

Posted by: Dellis2 | November 12, 2008 4:44 PM

Haywood's future with the Wiz is far from certain, regardless of whether the Wizards want to keep him. He'll be a FA after next season and there will likely be other bidders for his services. Between his age (he'll be half-past 30 and closing in on 31 by the time the 09-10 season ends) and the fact that the Wizards aren't likely to be much closer to contending then than he is now, he could easily (and reasonably) decide to sign on with a contender for a better shot at a title.

Posted by: kalo_rama | November 12, 2008 4:48 PM

Thanks for the post. I think patience is necessary -- in a month, the Wiz could be starting Arenas, Young, Butler, Jamison, and McGee. If they're healthy and they mesh, that's an extremely quick and athletic group that should be able to compete, especially with Stevenson, Dixon/Daniels and Blatche/Thomas coming off the bench.

Posted by: dcgoblue | November 12, 2008 4:57 PM

why is this game at 8pm and not at 7pm?

Posted by: rachel216 | November 12, 2008 5:15 PM

A NOTE TO KPNIEHAUS: A coach can emphasize all he wants but short of trading everyone and starting over(which most fans won't sit still for)what can EJ or any coach in this situation do this team has to take it upon themselves to play hard for forty-eight minutes on both ends of the floor.They need a win tonite; good news Memhet Okur is out he always kills this team(how come we can't get euro players like him instead we get stuck with Pecherov).All hands on deck tonite time to MAN UP!!.

Posted by: dargregmag | November 12, 2008 5:23 PM

Start McGee and Young. Please.

Posted by: Wittan | November 12, 2008 5:26 PM

look intil gil comes back. Here should be the starters.

PG Juan Dixon
SG Nick Young
SF CB3
PF Jamison
C JaVale McGee

When Gil comes back Start Gil and Juan can be your backup. Put your best out there. Deshawn is overrated and AD is getting older.

Posted by: Bigmon411 | November 12, 2008 5:28 PM

I think people, including Ivan, who keep saying that a trade of AB wouldn't return something of equal value is bogus.

What is equal value for AB?

What makes anyone think he's worth more than the contract he got from Les BouleS when only Les BouleS offered him a contract when he was a free agent to begin with?!?!?!

There comes a time when you have to cut your losses and move on with life. And, that may mean goodbye to AB.

But, in my opinion, I would keep AB for now and let him start at the 4, not the 5. AB is not a 5!!!!

BTW, trading AJ and OPech for Kaman/Thornton absolutely does not mean EG would be "taking on more long term contracts."

Kaman is a young, 26 year old big man who has averaged double double and over 2 blocks/game.

Thorton is a 24 year old 6-8 SF who can light it up.

LA Clips of the East (to distinguish from the Clips of the West) would be giving up a multi year all star and scorer/rebounder to the West Clips and he would fit in nicely with Baron Davis/Camby in the West where defense is not played anyway. Of course, AJ just signed a 5 year where he'll be 37 by the time his guaranteed contract is done.

Sounds like a win win to me.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | November 12, 2008 5:42 PM

"BTW, trading AJ and OPech for Kaman/Thornton absolutely does not mean EG would be "taking on more long term contracts."

No, it means the Clippers would be taking on more long-term contracts, the very avoidance of which was included among the reasons (in the Vescey article) why they're considering trading Kaman in the first place. Of course, it's all moot because there's no good reason why the Clippers would consider that trade. They'd be giving up their best low post players for guys that offer no low post presence. They'd be trading a combo forward (Thornton) for a similar type of player (Blatche) who's not as good. They'd be trading for an aging, no-defense playing, jump-shooting, under-sized, PF when they already have one of those (Tim Thomas) on their roster whose less expensive. Basically, that deal would result in the Clippers getting older and softer and more expensive and not really any better.

Posted by: kalo_rama | November 12, 2008 5:52 PM

10 under by Xmas with the status quo.

The future of the team is Arenas at the 1, Young at the 2, Butler at the 3, Blatche at the 4 and McGee at the 5. Jamison as the 6th man. They will have plenty of cap room to sign a good back-up guard and back-up center.

Let the young guys play now to develop. Young, Dixon and McGee are already better than the vets. Even Blatche's +/- is better than Jamison's. Eddie ought to go on vacation so these guys can relax and play ball.

Posted by: Izman | November 12, 2008 6:26 PM

"No, it means the Clippers would be taking on more long-term contracts, the very avoidance of which was included among the reasons (in the Vescey article) why they're considering trading Kaman in the first place. Of course, it's all moot because there's no good reason why the Clippers would consider that trade. They'd be giving up their best low post players for guys that offer no low post presence. They'd be trading a combo forward (Thornton) for a similar type of player (Blatche) who's not as good. They'd be trading for an aging, no-defense playing, jump-shooting, under-sized, PF when they already have one of those (Tim Thomas) on their roster whose less expensive. Basically, that deal would result in the Clippers getting older and softer and more expensive and not really any better.

Posted by: kalo_rama | November 12, 2008 5:52 PM "

Why do you keep quoting Vescey when you yourself are skeptical about his information?

Do the Clips of the West really need a low post presence when they can run? They are going to start Camby anyway at center, and he's not a traditional low post player.

Also, why are you mentioning AB? I didn't include him in my trade proposal!

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | November 12, 2008 6:54 PM

just saw Caron talking on the eve news, his eye looks bad. dont see how he even has full vision. they are really banged up.

Posted by: washwiz | November 12, 2008 7:08 PM

Ivan, that was an excellent post. You hit everything dead on.

It seems mind numbing that this is the same team for the 3rd year in a row, and it is almost forced that way. I cant believe all the long term deals players on this team are locked into. That is just bad management. Look at Detroit, where Dumars gives guys deals that are creative and worth their value. Just because a guy has a good season doesnt mean the Wiz need to lock them into 5 or 6 year deals. This team obviously needs a shakeup, but its near impossible. Nobody wants to take on these contracts.

One part where I disagree with Ivan is that Blatche has to be traded, or at least on the block. Yeah, his contract is pretty cheap, but that doesnt mean this team needs to keep him. I mean, it isnt like he has helped out at all. He has only been a distraction and a nuisance. Teams always will gamble on young bigs, so trade this cat before it is too late and get some value. I've had enough of his act, and it is wearing thin. Get rid of him already.

Posted by: Roman5 | November 12, 2008 7:16 PM

"Why do you keep quoting Vescey when you yourself are skeptical about his information?"

Because his unfounded rumor report is the basis of your argument, so if you're going to use what he wrote as "evidence" then use all of it. You don't get to use the stuff that you think helps your point, then pretend like you didn't see the stuff that doesn't.

"Also, why are you mentioning AB? I didn't include him in my trade proposal!"

Obviously I meant Pech. Which, of course, only further weakens the trade suggestion, because Pecherov is leagues worse than Blatche and has absolutely zero trade value.

Posted by: kalo_rama | November 12, 2008 11:51 PM

"Because his unfounded rumor report is the basis of your argument, so if you're going to use what he wrote as "evidence" then use all of it. You don't get to use the stuff that you think helps your point, then pretend like you didn't see the stuff that doesn't.

"Also, why are you mentioning AB? I didn't include him in my trade proposal!"

Obviously I meant Pech. Which, of course, only further weakens the trade suggestion, because Pecherov is leagues worse than Blatche and has absolutely zero trade value.

Posted by: kalo_rama | November 12, 2008 11:51 PM "

Sorry, Vescey's article isn't the basis of my "argument."

I've been calling for a Kaman trade long before Vescey even released his article.

And, the purpose of my article was only to confirm that the Clips are considering letting him go.

Also, if you don't trust Vescey's words, then you look foolish using it to justify your own argument.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | November 13, 2008 12:25 PM

J. Bayless outplayed all point guards this summer and was probably the MVP of summer league. Yet he is not being used in Portland.

There are several teams that could use a good point guard right now.

Warriors, Hornets, Suns, Rockets, Magic, Spurs, Wizards, Thunder

Bayless, Westbrook, Green, Durant would make a great young core. Chris Paul could use a nice young backup, Bayless with Howard would be awesome. Bayless/Arenas would make a great backcourt.

I just like to see exciting young point guards play and doesn't seem like Bayless can get any minutes behind the glut of guards that Portland has.

Posted by: egmRice | November 13, 2008 3:02 PM

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