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Five Offseason Concerns: No. 3

3. Can the Wizards move an expiring contract?

Where am I going? (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Mike James is most definitely picking up his $6.5 million option next season, so that leaves the Wizards with four players with expiring contracts next season in James, Etan Thomas ($7.3 million), Brendan Haywood ($6 million) and Dominic McGuire ($825,497). The Wizards are keeping Haywood and McGuire because they give premium production at their respective salaries, but James and Thomas will be difficult to move. The Wizards offered up James and Thomas to the Chicago Bulls at the trade deadline in an attempt to re-acquire Larry Hughes, but the Bulls went for the Jerome James garbage pail package.

Grunfeld will likely attempt to package James and/or Thomas with the draft pick (if it's not No. 1) and hope that some team is looking to clear cap space for 2010, when the dream free agent class hits the market. Thomas has had a heart ailment and serious knee injury wipe out his past two seasons, and while he has a trade kicker, the Wizards could always throw in the infamous "cash considerations" to sweeten any deal. That being said, teams are not going to be willing to just do the Wizards a favor. They may have to take something back that they don't want in order to make it work.

But with that luxury tax number looking more unappealing, you figure Grunfeld has to do something to cut costs.

By Michael Lee  |  April 20, 2009; 1:29 PM ET
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Next: Five Offseason Concerns: No. 4


Got new-posted, but I believe the team has an option for Pecherov for the '10-11 season, which I don't see them picking up (north of the $3M? At least based on his current $1.5M contract in his 2nd yr), so this team practically has another expiring contract to trade b/c the team that has Pesh can decide whether or not to exercise the option, which I believe has to be done prior to the season opener...

Posted by: -CN- | April 20, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

If the Wiz don't have the No. 1 pick to get Griffin, it's almost a no-brainer to move Etan with the No. 1 pick (and possibly Pecherov) to a team that is looking to clear cap space for 2010 and to have the high pick this year. A veteran PF/C who can score in the low post or an established SG who plays some D would be nice in return. Problem will be that a trading partner would want to move there own large salary off the books to absorb Etan's or Mike James.

Posted by: wizfan89 | April 20, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

As I mentioned before, Abe will have to eat the luxury tax. If this team gets the no# 1 pick, it would be too hard not to take Griffin unless there is an extremely attractive trade out there. I've always stuck by the theory of packaging the pick (if they don't get the number 1 pick) to get Chris Bosh. Toronto will lose him in 2010 and there probably looking to re-build there squad.

I don't know how EG can get rid of Etan and Mike James. But the Ernie was able to move Stackhouse, Lattner and of course Kwame to receive some key players (ie Jamison and Caron) so he knows better than me.

With regards to Jamison, I don't see him playing the sixth man role. not after the season he had. There only hope is to let the rookie come off the bench next season and during the 2010 off-season look to move either Caron or Jamison.

Posted by: rcnasa | April 20, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse


I believe Pecherov's salary has already been picked in mid-season. Besides, his salary next season will be al little bit over 1.5 mil (comparable to Young's, but lower), not 3 mil.

Posted by: sagaliba | April 20, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

I'd love to pick up Amare, Kaman, Brand, Boozer and/or Chandler.

Posted by: Dellis2 | April 20, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

every one is nuts not to mention David Lee of the New York Knicks. he is a talented power foward, kind of like blake griffin in some respects he averaged (16 and 11)

So if the number 1 pick isnt available i think the wizards should trade that pick along with a decent player like andray blatche and mike james another solid contributor. new york can draft ricky rubio to run thier uptempo D'antoni's offense like steve nash. Its a good trade because mike james's contract ends and they will have some more money for a decent big man and some more shooters.

while washington gets a defenseive bully downlow that will crash. jamison will have to sacrifice for the team coming off the bench. to have a solid line up with:

Arenas 1
Butler 2
Mcguire 3
Lee 4
Haywood 5

6th man- Jamison
7th man- Nick Young
9th- Crittenton

50 win team, eastern conference finals...maybe even a division title if arenas is healthy

Posted by: jasperhneyaolcom | April 20, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, Pesh's '09-'10 option was definitely picked up (around 9/30/08), but I think the team still has an option for his '10-'11 season. Not sure though. As for his salary, it is definitely much closer to $1.5M, good call on that. The $3M figure was his tender offer after his initial rookie 4-year contract (2 years guaranteed followed by two 1-year team options?)...

Posted by: -CN- | April 20, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

David Lee is not a bad option. The good news is he's a free agent so there's some flexibility in terms of a sign-and-trade. The Knicks are interested in clearing more room for 2010.

Knicks sign Lee to a contract equal to Mike James' last year (6.5 million per year). Then trade #2 plus James to the Knicks for Lee and the #8.

If Lee wants a higher salary, then perhaps the Knicks sign him to Thomas' final year (7.35 per plus the trade kicker). That's getting a little steep ... but Lee can play.

Posted by: uptownjive | April 20, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

For that matter, this team has options for the '10-'11 seasons on Young & McGee as well, but they obviously have more value than Pesh, though all 3 make about the same amount (given that they were drafted in 3 successive years around the same draft slot)...

Posted by: -CN- | April 20, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

These contracts will indeed be in demand for teams looking to get under the cap next summer. But Ernie likely can't afford to move them (and take back a valuable veteran on a longer term deal) unless he also moves Stevenson and/or Songaila.

In a vacuum, the pick, James and Etan for Chris Bosh works, but it will leave Abe with a $20M - $30M lux tax bill in 2010. I can't imagine that's feasible.

Posted by: TheFunBunch | April 20, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

if the Wizards are serious about becoming a contender next season, they have to move some young players or must trade away some garbage veterans (Etan Thomas, Mike James...) for solid veteran contributors.

Posted by: MOrgil | April 20, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

The question isn't whether they can move some expiring contracts, the question is whether they can move them for someone that'll be worth paying the equivalent amount of money to. Lots of teams will be looking to unload salaries, either to become players in the FA market or to get below the tax ceiling, but most of them will be trying to move the dregs at the end of their roster, not actual useful contributors.

That's why I think Thomas, James, et al, aren't likely to be moved until around the midseason trade deadline. Most of the early offers Grunfeld sees will be "cap-for-crap" deals, but the closer they get to the deadline, the more willing other teams will be to negotiate up, as the prospect of the tax hit looms larger.

Posted by: kalo_rama | April 20, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Problem will be that a trading partner would want to move there own large salary off the books to absorb Etan's or Mike James.


if it's a player that can contribute, i am all for it!

Posted by: crs-one | April 20, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

I never understood the rush to resign Etan Thomas to an extended contract based on the 6 points and 5 rebounds he averages for a career. He has never been anything but hands of stone on offense and at 6'10 is a defensive liability inside at center.

What a waste of $36M.

Posted by: leopard09 | April 20, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

"I never understood the rush to resign Etan Thomas to an extended contract based on the 6 points and 5 rebounds he averages for a career. He has never been anything but hands of stone on offense and at 6'10 is a defensive liability inside at center.

What a waste of $36M.

Posted by: leopard09 | April 20, 2009 5:16 PM "

Not just resign ET, but also allowed a poison pill clause where ET gets 10% if he gets traded.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | April 20, 2009 7:43 PM | Report abuse

Yes, move them to the inactive list. Darius Songaila, Eton Thomas, and Mike James. 13, 14, & 15.


Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | April 20, 2009 8:31 PM | Report abuse

I can see us getting rid of one expiring contract but not two (now that Isiah Thomas is gone, I can't believe anyone would waste two of 15 slots on them). The preferable choice would be Thomas, as James could still be needed as a stop-gap if we have another guard melt-down.

If we don't get Griffin (I has a brain-lock and called him Griffith earlier, eek) then the logical pieces become Blatche, the #2-5 pick and Thomas for a veteran rotation player and the trading partner's first round choice.

Posted by: khrabb | April 21, 2009 8:52 AM | Report abuse

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