Category Archives: Pick and Pop
When noteworthy events happen in the land of the Washington Wizards we like to break down our opinions in a feature we call the “Pick and Pop”. Ending a 12 game losing streak to open the season and winning your first game in over 200 days seemed like as good a reason as ever to polish the old P&P off to share with you all today.
1) Thoughts on finally winning a game?
Willis: Celebrate good times, come on? How am I supposed to feel about winning one game in twelve? I’m a smorgasbord of emotion, mostly because we won a game in which no one played particularly well against a sub .500 team for the first time this season. We turned the ball over way too much (16), lost the rebounding battle (45-42), shot 15 fewer shots (86-71). The difference was literally that we made one more shot. If it weren’t for Jordan Crawford and the Trail Blazers missing nearly every shot they took, this is more than likely a loss.
But again, I’ll take it, because an ugly win is still a win. Kevin Seraphin got himself a double-double, and Damian Lillard was held in check by A.J. Price (who had himself another bad shooting night). I have a hard time being upset with the effort level, although blowing that 16 point lead shows clearly that we still have to work on some things.
Bohlin: IT HAPPENED!!! WE DID IT!!! Last night’s win over the Portland Trail Blazers was much needed for this franchise and its fan base. In typical Wizards fashion, this win did not come easy as Washington nearly choked away a double digit lead in the fourth quarter as they finished the game just one for their last eleven from the field.
That one shot was massive though. Jordan Crawford’s three pointer late in the fourth quarter and some timely free throw shooting by Emeka Okafor are what solidified this victory for the Wizards. Until Wall and Nene are back and healthy, or in Nene’s case as healthy as he can possibly be, it will take efforts like the one from last night and a few lucky bounces going our way for the Wizards to continue to notch victories under their collective belts.
2) What do we need to do to win a second game?
Willis: Continue to have some bounces go our way for once. The clutch shots toward the end of the game started going in for the Wizards, and that really helped out a bunch. Washington finally went on one of those runs that end up being insurmountable for an opposing team, and that 16 point run was what decided things. The starter still have to play better, as Ariza is not going to be 6-of-9 every game for Washington. Someone has to continue to emerge as a scorer outside of Kevin Seraphin. We’re looking at you, Bradley Beal.
That being said, the bench should simply continue their strong play with Jordan Crawford igniting the offense. I said in the offseason that his ideal role is a sixth man who can command a second unit and beat up on “scrubs”, and that’s what Crawford does. Portland’s second unit was horrible, and the Wizards beat them down.
Bohlin: Compete. The fact of the matter is that right now the Wizards don’t have the talent necessary to win NBA games with any sort of consistency. When a team is lacking in that area their best chance to be successful lies in the amount of effort they put towards their goal, victory. Until the Wizards get John Wall and Nene back for the long haul this team is going to have to outwork every opponent they face if they want to continue to enjoy the feeling that was felt throughout the Verizon Center by the Wizards faithful last night.
3) What is your starting five and why?
Willis: Beal, Crawford, Singleton, Nene, and Okafor
I don’t care if this means the Wizards don’t have a point guard, but I think these five give the Wizards the best chance to win and score points. Nene can dish out to Bradley Beal at the point, Crawford, at times, has proven himself to be a talented passer, and Singleton is a defensive presence that can guard wing players effectively. Meanwhile, Okafor takes up space. You could argue that Seraphin should be in there, but Nene and him are very similar in nature and would not really mesh that well.
I keep Beal in there as a starter because he simply has to get minutes. Relegating him to the bench with scant minutes and pummeling his already fragile confidence is the wrong thing to do. Eventually, he’s going to figure out how to play the game, and that comes with experience. No, we don’t want to give him the experience of losing, but when Washington won that game he really had nothing to do with it. His play was poor, and he got benched. He should still start.
1) Shaun Livingston
2) Jordan Crawford
3) Trevor Ariza
4) Kevin Seraphin
5) Emeka Okafor
The rotation for the Wizards has been a point of contention for a couple of weeks now. Randy Wittman has tried just about every possible combination imaginable for this team through the first 13 games and until last night not a single one of them had proven to be effective enough to win a game. If I making the lineups for Washington night in and night out this is how I would start each and every game until Wall and Nene return.
With Livingston running the offense players such as Jordan Crawford have the opportunity to do what they do best, score, because Livingston’s first inclination on offense is to create for others as A.J. Price’s first inclination has seemed to lie closer to finding his own shot.
Jordan Crawford, to this point, has been our most reliable offensive weapon which is saying a lot considering his reputation of being a volume shooter. His best role with this team will inevitably be coming off the bench as the team’s sixth man, however, with the Wizards performing as woefully on offense as they have been early on this season his inclusion into the starting lineup had to take place.
Ariza and Okafor need to start as they are our best two options at their respective positions and also the fact that they are two of the highest paid players on the team which, more times than not (Sorry Rashard Lewis), equates to big minutes and many starts over the course of 82 games.
Kevin Seraphin is my last choice as a starter. Seraphin has proven that the offensive display he put on at times in the Olympics was no fluke. His baby hook shot move in the paint has been largely unstoppable this season as Seraphin has become highly effective when taking that shot. He has earned this distinction with his play so far and will likely continue to see big minutes as the Wizards ease Nene back from his foot injury.
4) MVP and LVP so far
Willis: MVP is spelled Nene in my book. He’s our best player when healthy, and Washington plays considerably better the second he touches the floor. Without him, we’re still winless. I know he only had a modest 6 points and 6 rebounds last game, but his impact is felt in so many more ways than just in the box score.
I think back to when he actually manned the point and dribbled the ball up court (in a very unsightly manner, however), and didn’t turn the ball over. He scooped up a rebound, couldn’t find anyone right away, but took the ball up the court to eventually find a man. It’s not even a huge deal, but it’s just the smooth, calm, do-whatever-it-takes manner in which he plays that gives the Wizards a big boost of confidence.
LVP – Jan Vesely for so many reasons. He’s not very good and his PER of 4 shows that. Outside of Nene, Crawford, and Okafor, everyone else has been below average on the PER scale (15 is average, everyone aside from those three is below it). Beal and Price sit around 10, Ariza and Singleton around 13, but Vesely? Four. FOUR. He’s done nothing to convince me that he won’t be out of the league in another year or two when his contract runs out, mostly because I can’t think of anything he can do particularly well aside from rebound.
His complete lack of an offensive game from anywhere on the court outside of dunking tells me that he really, really needs to find a mentor or be relegated to trying to deflect tip ins at the end of games (as he did against Portland last night).
Bohlin: MVP: Jordan Crawford
Could you imagine how uncompetitive this team would be were it not for Jordan Crawford? Honestly, I don’t want to and am glad it is not something that is worthy of discussion. The shooting guard from Xavier has been exactly what the Wizards need him to be so far as this team has struggled to put points on the board without him on the floor. It is very likely that Crawford’s role will change as the Wizards get closer to full health but he will remain a much needed weapon nonetheless.
LVP: Jan Vesely
As much as I want him to be good for this team the progression just hasn’t been there. David Aldridge said it best on Tony Kornheiser’s radio show in DC that Jan simply “Can’t play”. Aldridge went on to say how he doesn’t feel that Vesely will last five years in the league. That is the number six overall pick we are talking about here people. In last night’s win over Portland, Jan played a total of 0.2 seconds…and that was just so he could guard the Blazers last ditch inbound pass from half court. To say Jan has been a disappointment thus far isn’t doing justice to the word disappointment. He may turn it all around and prove Aldridge, Kornheiser, myself and thousands of other Wizards fans who feel the same way wrong, and I legitimately hope he does. I just don’t see it happening for him or this franchise any time soon. It’s really hard to take up for a guy who has five more fouls on the season than he does total points and is 3-13 from the foul line.
5.) Bradley Beal – What gives?
Willis: He can’t shoot, that’s what gives. That is largely based on the fact that he has little confidence in himself, so that will hopefully change. But he takes a lot of midrange jumpers, and those are suicide for a rookie scorer in the NBA. That’s a veteran shot, not one for the young bucks like Beal. His tendency to be inanimate on the offensive end kills him overall, and he simply has to work more on being aggressive (while playing smart at the same time).
On a positive note, he can rebound relatively well for his position, and he knows how to move the ball around and not have the offense die as soon as he touches it. But until he can start to contribute on the offensive end, which is what he was brought in to do, his play will draw the ire of Wizards fans who watch Damian Lillard, Brandon Knight, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist shine.
Heck, of all the rookies playing right now, Beal has been far less impressive than almost all off them. Harrison Barnes is starting to get it, Andre Drummond has been surprisingly effective, John Henson has done the same thing. Of the first ten picks, only Terrence Ross and Austin Rivers have had less of an impact. That’s not good.
Bohlin: It has been an up and down start to young Bradley Beal’s NBA career. Being shoved into the spotlight without your starting point guard, John Wall, and one of the league’s best big men in creating space for shooters, Nene, has put him behind the 8 ball. Unlike Vesely, Bradley Beal has shown flashes of the skillset that many fans saw during his time at Florida. I said it over the summer before we drafted Beal that he will benefit more so than any other player on our roster from playing with Wall and Nene. The addition of those two to the lineup will provide Bradley with more opportunities to take open shots while not being the main focal point of the opposing defense. I still think Bradley Beal is going to be a very effective NBA player for a long time, it’s far too early to pass judgment on him otherwise.
By: The DC Dime Staff
The Wizards made waves through the NBA news wires on Wednesday by acquiring Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor from the New Orleans Hornets for Rashard Lewis and the #46 overall selection in next Thursday’s NBA Draft. Here at The DC Dime anytime there’s major Wizards news that breaks we like to react to it as a whole in a segment we like to call the Pick N Pop. Since a member of the staff, Mike Willis, is off in South Carolina enjoying some fun in the sun on vacation Jason Colenda and I offer our takes on the major shake up to the roster.
1.) Reaction to hearing the news of this trade?
Bohlin: I was at my desk in the office trying as hard as I could to flip some software and hit my quota as the end of the quarter is approaching when my cell phone went berserk. When I finally looked at it and realized we’d traded Rashard “Won’t play for paychecks” Lewis and our later second round pick for Ariza and Okafor I was beside myself. “Ernie did it again” was what I thought, he’d taken trash and turned it into something useful. I even gave a little air fist pump to celebrate the news that the 24 million dollar gimp had been shown the door.
While Ariza and Okafor aren’t the missing pieces to a Wizards title run, they are more than serviceable. If they are both not starters then they will without question be rotation players. Which is more than we could say about Rashard during his time in the Nations Capital. The health of Okafor is still a major question mark as his knee troubled him the majority of last season, but if healthy he gives us a major upgrade on the defensive end of the floor. I look at Ariza in the same light, while his jump shot still be iffy he immediately becomes our top wing defender.
The Wizards got better as a result of this trade. We also locked ourselves in salary cap wise for the next two years as we took on salary on this deal. As a realist, I don’t mind this because you’re fooling yourself if you think we could’ve waived Lewis and convinced some top free agent to come to a losing team. That’s what we are right now, and the only way to climb out of that cellar is to infuse talent into this roster. That is what Ernie and Co. did on Wedesday.
Colenda: My initial reaction when hearing of the trade: “see ya when we see ya, Shard.” Lewis has been collecting the biggest pay checks in the NBA since he joined the Wizards after the Agent Zero trade, but hasn’t done a damn thing to earn them. Getting rid of the dead weight of his contract and his place on our bench was a big move for the Wizards, especially since they added two players capable of actually still contributing to an NBA team. Now are Okafor and Ariza still overpaid for what they are? Yeah probably, but there really are few good contracts in the NBA (everyone has an agent capable of gouging the league’s plethora of crappy GMs). But both of these guys represent a serious upgrade at their respective positions. Ariza will come in and be our starting small forward. He is a talented wing defender, who excels attacking the basket and working in transition but can occasionally get hot from three. He is an NBA champion (winning with Kobe and the Lakers) and will bring another winning presence into the locker room. Okafor probably won’t be taking a starting spot from Nene or our budding Frenchman in the front court, but he is certainly a huge upgrade as a first big off the bench. He is a physical banger, and although a little undersized, is a strong rim defender and rebounder. With the trade, Ernie made the Wiz deep, younger, and more talented while getting rid of dead weight of an albatross contract, certainly not a bad haul. This trade isn’t going to change the fate of our franchise, but it is, in my opinion, another step in the right direction.
2) Are we locked into taking Beal now/Your Wizards draft board
Bohlin: Technically, no. Realistically, yes. By addressing one of our major concerns at the SF position with the addition of Ariza it all but eliminates the possibility of MKG donning a Wizards jersey anytime soon. I personally preferred Beal to MKG before the trade was made, unlike some other dimer who won’t be named, so this is more than fine by me. Bradley Beal is a fantastic SG prospect that I firmly believe could flourish alongside John Wall.
The other real option remains to be North Carolina swing man Harrison Barnes. Barnes, by all accounts, was quite impressive during his workout in DC. He also auspiciously decided to cancel a scheduled workout with the Kings shortly after wrapping up his DC audition so there’s plenty of smoke there to fuel the speculation he could wind up being the #3 selection as well.
My Wizards draft board after this trade looks as so 1) Beal 2) Barnes 3) T. Robinson 4) MKG 5) Drummond. I strongly think the pick will be Beal or Barnes with the former Florida Gator having the edge.
Colenda: After seeing the trade, my first text to fellower Dimer Mr. Bohlin was “no MKG”. I think with the move, the Wizards showed their draft day hand. Adding a physical, banging big and a slashing small forward make we think that they are no longer considering Thomas Robinson and MKG. Not that continuing to add talent and depth at those positions would be a bad thing, it certainly would not be, but now the Wizards roster has more pressing holes to fill.
That need is at shooting guard. In my opinion, the top two players at that position in the draft are Beal, and Barnes. Now you may be saying, Barnes is a “small forward”, but he has the size and game of an NBA 2, and I think that’s the position he would be playing in DC. Either player would come in and be the starter from day one alongside Wall in the backcourt (sorry, Jordan), and expectations would be high for their future. Establishing a backcourt of the future with the number three pick seems to be what the Wizards have decided to do after yesterday’s move. The trade locked the Wizards into selecting one of those two players, whoever they deem the best of the bunch (and whoever is still available after MJ picks). If I’m Ernie, my draft board would look something like this: 1) Beal 2) Barnes 3) MKG 4)T.Rob.
3) With Nene, Okafor, Seraphin, Booker, Ariza and Vesely we have a logjam in the front court, were you Ernie what would your solution be?
Bohlin: Colenda and I have different views on this topic. While it’s nice to finally have some depth on the roster there is just too much in the front court and not even close to enough in the backcourt. I envision another trade happening as we approach the draft to be honest. Immediately I began throwing out the idea of Booker + #32 pick to move back into the first round and select another guard (I promise this isn’t because he went to Clemson and I am a USC graduate either, Go Cocks!). I think anywhere between picks 22-27 is a realistic landing spot and could net us a player such as sharpshooter John Jenkins out of Vanderbilt, Will Barton, the slasher from Memphis and native of Maryland, or a favorite of mine Doron Lamb out of Kentucky. The fact of the matter is our guard rotation is atrocious outside of John Wall and we need to address it in a major way in this draft. One of these bigs will need to be moved and since no one in their right mind would trade even a ball rack for Andray Blatche, Booker may be the odd man out.
Colenda: For starters, 6 players to fill out 3 positions isn’t a terrible situation. In fact, it’s a major upgrade what we’ve been in recent years, where we’ve been playing guys out of position and finishing in the bottom of the league in rebounding margin. While we don’t have a single dominant player, there are no Dwight Howard’s in the group, we have a strong core of players that all belong in the NBA and can be real contributors. The players are relatively complimentary as well; Ariza being a capable scorer and Vesely all defense, Booker can stretch the floor (just a bit) and Seraphin is all-inside all the time, and Nene is offensive minded and Okafor defensive. If I am Ernie, I’m sitting comfortably with my front court situation and not looking to make another move. The front court allows us to play multiple different types of line-ups, big and strong (Nene, Seraphin, Booker/Vesely), smaller but athletic (Ariza, Booker, Vesely/Nene) etc. This type of versatility allows you to match up with different styles of play much more effectively. The Wizards front court has quickly turned into his real strength over the past 6 months, and is much more prepared to compete at a winning level in the NBA.
4) Fill out your starting five + bench rotation heading into next season
6) We are all Seraphans
By: Bohlin and Willis
1) Pros and Cons of Stan Van Gundy
Bohlin: There are some legitimate reasons as to why Stan Van Gundy (or SVG as I will reference him from here on out) might have interest in taking over the reins of the Washington Wizards. First and foremost would be the opportunity to stick it to your former employer. Anyone who has ever been fired from a position knows deep down they would love to get back at the person who let them go. Fortunately for the Wizards, SVG would have a plethora of opportunities to do just that were he to take the job in D.C. Another reason for SVG to take the Wiz Kids job? He wouldn’t have to cater to an overbearing superstar who doesn’t want to be there anymore. Dwight Howard, and the circus that surrounded him this season, couldn’t have made SVG job pleasant this past year. It got so bad that he went out in the media saying his star player went to the front office asking for him to be fired. That just shouldn’t happen on any level of basketball. In D.C. our star player, John Wall, is hungry to build a winner in the District and, by all accounts, loves the city as this is where his father grew up. Couple a talented PG with a nice group of big’s in Nene and Seraphin, as well as what we hope will be a major hit in the lottery, and you have the makings of an attractive roster for someone such as SVG to consider taking over.
The only knock on SVG is the perceived notion that he’s lost two locker rooms: first in Miami and then Orlando. At least, that has been the reasoning for him leaving those jobs. The egos he had to deal with in those locations certainly had something to do with that occurrence, however. I would be more than willing to argue that Dwight Howard lost the locker room in Orlando and SVG, along with Howard’s teammates, are the ones who got thrown under the proverbial bus (Dwight being Dwight). I firmly believe he would not run into this issue in D.C. as the major egos and knuckleheads (Sans The Captain) have been shipped out of town and SVG would inherit a young, talented roster of players wanting to be successful. His record speaks for itself and he has a great knowledge of the Southeast Division…Seems like a no brainer that we would reach out to him about our head coaching position.
Willis: For once, I actually agree with my colleague on something basketball-related. SVG is skilled in three facets of life: 1.) He grows a phenomenal mustache reminiscent of the great Ron Jeremy, 2.) SVG could replace Super Mario in any future movies, and 3.) The guy can flat out coach basketball. Jokes aside, anyone who watches this guy’s teams play basketball understands that he understands, at the most fundamental level, how good basketball is played. During his eight years as a head coach in the NBA, SVG has amassed a staggering .641 winning %. To put that into perspective, that’s sixth All-Time amongst NBA coaches with at least 500 games. That number puts him ahead of guys like Rick Aldeman, Rick Carlisle, George Karl, Doc Rivers, and even Flip Saunders. The ability to coach teams at such a high level over any length of time means speaks volumes to his dedication and preparation. Can he coach a team with less talent than most? I would think so.
One knock on him, however, is that his personality tends to grind on his most talented players. SVG does not show favoritism, and so most superstars get upset with him because SVG speaks his mind. He will not hesitate to publicly chastise someone who doesn’t do what they are told. He threw his main man, Dwight Howard, under the bus for private conversations Dwight had with upper management, and as Shaq said “that was Bush League.” In a way, it is. Private conversations shouldn’t be brought public, ever. Stan Van Gundy tells it like it is, for better or worse. Given that the Wizards are sometimes a sensitive team (as well as a flawed team), that might happen a lot. I can only imagine how angry Wall might get if he was told that his shooting was unacceptably bad (when Jan Vesely can’t shoot, period).
2) Pros and Cons of Nate McMillan
Bohlin: Nate didn’t last the season in Portland. After starting the season with a 20-23 record he was relieved of his duties as the head coach of the Trail Blazers. In his 12-year coaching career, including a stint in Seattle (Like R.I.P) before moving down the coast to Portland, he has achieved an overall record of 478-452. His playoff record is an uninspiring 14-20 and McMillan has never made it past the second round of the playoffs as a head coach. Obviously, McMillan has a fantastic basketball acumen having had a 12-year NBA career as a player. He could probably teach John Wall a few things about distributing the basketball as McMillan still holds the single-game assist record for rookies passing out 25 dimes.
I just don’t know if I buy into the fact that McMillan is the right coach for this team as it is currently constructed. The facts speak for themselves in this case, McMillan has coached middle of the pack teams to early exit’s in the playoffs his entire coaching career. Even the year he led the Blazers to a tie for the Northwest Division title they were bounced by the Houston Rockets in 6 games in the first round. Note: Greg Oden actually played 61 games that season; they also had LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy, Nicklas Batum and Andre Miller on that team. Not a bad amount of talent for a first round exit from the playoffs. That is clearly more talent than is currently on this Wizards roster and if he couldn’t get it done with those guys I am not convinced he can get it done with our Wiz Kids.
Willis: Nate Dogg is an interesting prospect as a head coach. He is a very versatile guy, who can coach both veterans and young players into successful seasons. As I’ve written before, McMillan is a “change the culture” type of guy, who would fit incredibly well within our current rebuilding project that is seeking just that. When McMillan took over the Portland job, he had to deal with some seriously flawed players with terrible attitude issues that led to them being branded the Jailblazers. The end result? Within three years, the Blazers became a 54-win playoff team. He is clearly a player’s coach who demands results and gets them from his team. Plus, he’s only finished below .500 four times during his 12 years as a head coach.
His cons? As my colleague noted before, he has an underwhelming postseason record. I would argue that he lost a lot of those playoff games because of injuries which plagued the Trailblazers during his tenure. Greg Oden and Brandon Roy were supposed to be the future of that team; instead, they are painful reminders of how much injuries can derail a team’s bright future. Both players had franchise player status, and it’s hard to fault Nate McMillan for being a failure because his players failed to stay healthy. That’s just the nature of the game. Still, he has had healthy, talented teams and failed to out-coach anyone.
3) Pros and Cons of Jerry Sloan
Bohlin: He is a Hall of Fame coach. You cannot start assessing Jerry Sloan as a coaching candidate without mentioning that. In his 26 years of coaching experience in the NBA Sloan amassed a record of 1221-803 in the regular season. His playoff record is equally impressive at 98-104 (As a franchise the Wizards/Bullets/Zephyrs only have 77 total postseason victories). While he never got the opportunity to raise the Larry O’Brien trophy while leading the Utah Jazz, Sloan did take the franchise to the NBA Finals twice where they were eventually sent back to Salt Lake City ringless by Michael Jordan. Despite having never won the title every NBA player and coach dreams of winning, Sloan is considered one of the brightest coaching minds of this generation. He obviously wants to get back into coaching judging by the fact he is going to give Michael Jordan and his Bobcats the time of day for an interview. So it wouldn’t hurt for the Wizards to at least give his representatives a call and gauge his interest.
Even with all the accolades above pertaining to Sloan as a coach there is still one MAJOR concern I would have in targeting him to be the leader of our franchise. Sloan up and quit on a team that was 8 games over .500 and had gone to the playoffs the four previous years. “There’s only so much energy left and my energy has dropped.” This is a direct quote from Sloan after he resigned from the Jazz coaching position in February of 2011. While some of this has to be attributed to Deron Williams giving him, and the franchise, the Dwight Howard treatment, it is a bad omen for a team trying to take the next step to respectability. The Wizards have not been as successful a franchise as the Jazz were under Sloan; there is no way around this reality. I cannot get behind a coach taking a team that is further away from competing for a title than the franchise he previously left mid-season citing a “lack of energy”. How long until he would lose that same energy for coaching when he takes the helm of a team that has a total of 88 wins in the past four years?
Willis: Jerry Sloan was born in 1942. Some other things that happened during that year? The movie Casablanca premiered in Hollywood, the Holocaust occurred, the United States Navy fought Japan during the Battle of Guadalcanal, and Anne Frank wrote her first entries in her Diary. What am I getting at? Jerry Sloan is old. He’s not a dinosaur, but he’s two years younger than Don Nelson. Anytime a coach can claim to be the same age as Dick Stockton, I have my reservations about how well he is going to be able to relate with players on a younger team such as the Wizards. I also question why a guy like Jerry Sloan, who happens to be a Hall of Fame coach with no rings, would want to coach a young squad like Washington when there is virtually no chance to add the only thing missing from his resume. Realistically, there will be plenty of veteran teams looking for a coach who can lead them to victory. With only a few years of quality coaching left, I can’t believe he has even the slightest amount of interest in Washington and another young point guard.
On the positive side? He is a Hall of Fame coach who doesn’t have two championships because he as a product of the Michael Jordan era. Teams simply didn’t win while he was playing. His style of ball meshes very well with John Wall (pick and roll) and he might actually teach him how to shoot a bit better. Sloan brings immediate credibility to the franchise, and I’d be willing to bet that the improvements would be immediate with him and he wouldn’t hesitate to bench guys like Blatche for acting up.
4) Do we just bag the coaching search until next summer and let Wittman lead us back to the lottery one more time
Bohlin: Being honest, it is hard to envision this roster competing for a playoff spot next season. If we were to hold off on going after a big name coach for another season I am comfortable saying that Randy Wittman did enough to merit coming back for a full season as the Wizards head coach. This is all hinging on the fact that Wittman wants to do this again though. When Flip was fired, Wittman made it quite clear he was not interested in being a head coach at this point in time. He has repeatedly mentioned how difficult this season was for him. Did that change during his stint leading the Wizards to the end of this season? Maybe, Randy Wittman is the only one who can truly answer that question. The fact that his roster endorsed him returning as their coach in 2012-2013 certainly helps (Player endorsements). But unfortunately for Wittman, the inmates aren’t running the asylum on F Street so that decision is going to ultimately come from Leonsis and Grunfeld.
Willis: I’m actually a big fan of Randy Wittman. I think, as a coach, he knew how to push these young players buttons enough to squeeze out some actual effort and hustle. The players liked him, and they responded to what he was saying. There were less blowout losses and more wins with Wittman instead of Flip Saunders. I guess that was what I liked the most; he actually cared and wasn’t resigned to losing like Flip. Perhaps I was so traumatized by Flip’s nonchalant attitude and excessive amount of hair gel that when Randy Wittman started demanding changes (Major Payne style) I fell in love. I think going forward, unless we make a huge hire in the coaching realm, Wittman is the guy we should start growing with. Wall played better under him, Vesely improved under him, Seraphin emerged under him; again I ask, why wouldn’t I want that?
Not to mention that having stability at the head coaching position is never a bad thing. Look no further than the credibility of the Utah Jazz under the Jerry Sloan, the Spurs under Greg Popovich, or the Celtics with Doc Rivers. Good teams have a head coach who inserts a system and the GM works in conjunction with him to grab players tailored for it. I don’t know that Randy Wittman’s system is a winning formula, but I do know that I’d like to give him a chance to implement it. He is an internal hire who knows Grunfeld, so maybe they can develop this vision of basketball in cohesion.
The cons of Wittman? He has coached three full seasons before, and not one of those teams managed to win consistently. He has never coached a team that has been over .500, and I’m not sure that he ever will. Granted, when you have a Minnesota team whose top three players are Al Jefferson, Rashard McCants, and Marko Jaric, there might not be a lot of winning going on. His other stint in Cleveland was before LeBron came along, wherein he was forced to eke wins out of Andre Miller, Clarence Witherspoon, and Jim Jackson (Oh my God the 2001 Cavaliers were awful). That’s not a lot to go with, and the Wizards next season might be his most talented squad yet. Still, the returns haven’t been promising up to this point. I fear Wittman might be more of a motivational speaker than an actual coach.
Tags: basketball, calipari, coaching, Deron Williams, hoops, jazz, jerry sloan, John Wall, Kentucky, nate mcmillan, nba, Portland, sloan, sports, stan van gundy, SVG, trailblazers, utah jazz, van gundy, washington, Wizards
By: Willis, Colenda, and Bohlin
With all the talk yesterday (within the Wizards realm) of the possibility of moving Rashard Lewis, I overheard a very, very interesting proposition over the Twittersphere mentioned in passing by someone I cannot even recall. The question was this: if the Wizards fall to the #5 pick in the draft, would Ernie entertain the idea of trading Rashard and that pick for Memphis Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay? As soon as I read it, I almost wanted to direct message the guy who wrote it telling him to keep those thoughts away from Ernie Grunfeld, please. If Ernie caught wind of a deal like this, he’d immediately pull the trigger on it without looking back. But maybe I’m the one in the wrong here; perhaps this Ernie-like trade should go down. I mean, Rudy Gay is a borderline All-Star who also happens to be a native of the area, right? It couldn’t hurt to entertain the idea. Well, luckily, my viewpoint isn’t the only one available, which brings us to this edition of Pick’N’Pop:
1.) If the Wizards drop to the #5 pick in the draft, should they try and trade Rashard + the pick for Rudy Gay?
Colenda: In short, absolutely. With the trade for Nene, the Wizards have shown that they’re ready to exit the rebuilding stage and make the necessary moves to become relevant again in the East. We’re certainly not in a win-now mode like, say, the Celtics, but the franchise needs to see improvement (especially with the looming free agency of a certain former number 1 pick). This is why a Gay deal makes sense. Instead of riding out a final year of Lewis’ contract, opening up some cap space in 2014, and developing a talented but raw rookie, the Wizards would be trading for a player that can help them win right away. He would be able to come in and fill the gaping need for a go-to-scorer, and help provide some additional veteran experience with a winning mentality. His coming from a successful franchise cannot be understated; the Wizards desperately need players who know what it takes to be winners in the NBA. A core group of Wall, Gay, Seraphin, Nene, and Vesely would be intriguing to build around, and it would most certainly not be a team that finishes near dead last in the league. If we could find a Bruce Bowen-type shooting guard (a defensive specialist that’s deadly from 3), then that group has the potential for true success.
Willis: This is where I have a hard time making a definitive statement on the subject. The Wizards have been notoriously bad about trading away their draft picks for talented players in an attempt to simply skip the rebuilding process (*cough* Ricky Rubio for Randy Foye and Mike Miller). The reality is, however, that great teams simply aren’t created that way. Look at the Big Three teams who have had any measure of success: San Antonio’s players were all home grown, Boston already had resident star Paul Pierce, Miami already had D-Wade before LBJ and Bosh, Oklahoma City drafted Durant, Westbrook, and Harden, and even Los Angeles drafted Kobe and Bynum before adding Pau. The reality is that great teams become great through the draft and then free agency. One can’t come before the other, lest the development of players is rushed.
Bohlin: In any trade it takes two to tango, but were the Curse of Les Boulez to cause this scenario to play out the Wizards should absolutely make the phone call to Chris Wallace & Co. Falling to the fifth pick, the worst spot the Wizards could land in the lottery, would more than likely leave us on the outside looking in for the top guard/small forward prospects who have declared. In this situation it really would come down to who you like more, North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes or attempting to make a move to bring Rudy back home to the DMV. Memphis is going into the offseason over the cap and after a disappointing first round exit by the hands of those guys from Lob City they may be looking to dump salary and Rudy just inked a big deal with the Grizzlies last summer.
2.) What do you think of Rudy Gay as a player? (strength’s)
Colenda: Gay has always been an extremely gifted athlete (check out some H.S. highlights from his time at Spalding in Maryland, he may have been a late star on the AAU scene but the kid could always fly). Over the last few years he has developed himself into being a very capable scorer on the NBA level. Defensively, you could expect a player with his combination of size, length and athleticism to be an elite defender, but he is nothing more than serviceable on that end of the floor. He has been bit by the injury bug the last few seasons, and it’s debatable whether or not he fits the dreaded “injury-prone” label. When healthy, his offensive versatility allows for him to fit well in either a half-court or up-tempo offense. Gay can function off the ball, attack off the dribble, or knock down 3’s in a catch and shoot. Overall, Gay is an above-average NBA player and maybe even a border-line All-Star, but could never be mistaken as a franchise-guy on a championship contender.
Willis: I think Rudy Gay is one of the best small forwards in the game, and appears to have turned a corner in terms of his dedication to team play. Having watched a lot of Rudy Gay throughout his career, his forte is the pull up jumper from midrange off the dribble and using the triple threat in the corners to get ahead of the defender before, again, pulling up. He’s one of the better athletes at his position, easily ranking in the top 5 and capable of keeping up with anyone on the defensive end. He isn’t the best defender, but he has shown far more commitment this year than any previous times. The problem I have with him, is that in spite of what I see on the court (more hustle, defensive commitment, smarter basketball), he really hasn’t changed from when he came into the league. He’s the same steak, just marinated. I’m not sure he’s ever going to take the step to become an All-Star caliber small forward like people think he might. Rudy Gay is, simply put, very close to Caron Butler but not quite as good. And if the Wizards fell to 5, I’d rather just try our hand at the draft with someone like Harrison Barnes or Bradley Beal.
Bohlin: In spite of my bias towards guys who played in the D.C. Metro area, Rudy Gay is one hell of a basketball player and represents what this team is lacking. Until he got to the NBA, Rudy has more or less been “The Guy” on any team he was a part of. He can jump out of the gym, as my colleague Jason Colenda knows, and he possesses as close to a complete offensive arsenal as anyone in the league. Gay can take his man to the basket off the dribble, put the ball on the floor to create space for a jump shot and stretch the floor by stepping out behind the arc to knock down three-pointers. There is currently not a soul on the Wizards roster who can claim to be able to do the same thing consistently.
3.) Would Rudy Gay mesh well with John Wall?
Colenda: If fit were the biggest concern with the deal, attempting such a trade would be a no-brainer. Gay would be a perfect fit to play alongside John Wall and the youthful Wiz. He would fill a HUGE position of need for the Wizards (SF/Elite Wing Athlete/Go-To Scorer), and be able to flourish alongside John Wall in the open floor. Thought Jan looked competent running the break with Jimmy at times this year? Gay would without a doubt team up with Wall for quite a few Sports Center highlights. His ability to function as a go-to-scorer would allow Wall to fit into his much more comfortable role as a creator and initiator of offense and the fast break. John would make Rudy’s life much easier offensively by getting him easy shots, and Gay would make Wall’s life much easier since he’s a competent pro to play alongside (Wall hasn’t played with many of those in his first two years). The pairing would really complement itself well and with Nene and Seraphin we could have the makings of a legitimate inside, outside threat.
Willis: Rudy is one of those guys who could fit into any offense with about 15-16 shots to spare. His isolation prowess doesn’t require a point guard to function correctly; rather, it requires minimal floor spacing. Fortunately for the Wizards, they have about 40 possessions they wouldn’t mind giving to Rudy Gay. While Gay is capable of running an up tempo style (I would presume, given his athleticism), he is more used to half court sets and a slower speed offense in Memphis. And heck, that would probably be a boon for Wall, given that in an up tempo offense his turnover rates skyrocket. Not even mentioning the fact that Rudy has playoff experience, a Gold Medal in the FIBA World Championships, and a winning mentality. His presence with Wall wouldn’t be bad at all, and the rest of the team would work out fine with him on board, as he fits seamlessly into most offenses.
Bohlin: He’d be the perfect match to play alongside Wall. Not only would Gay get out in transition as we all know that ability is what separates Wall from the rest of the point guards in the league. Gay would also finally give us the go-to scorer on the wing that we have desperately needed. Outside of his transition game or isolation plays Wall has yet to prove he can be relied upon to shoulder the offensive load with his jump shot. While this is something that I expect to improve over the summer and coming seasons it still is something that is outside of Wall’s comfort zone at this point in time. The addition of Gay to the lineup would take some of that burden off of Wall to be the focal point of the offense and in turn allow him to be the distributor in an up tempo setting which I believe is where he can truly thrive.
4.) What are the chances Memphis would actually do this trade?
Colenda: I’m not convinced the Grizzlies would turn their nose up at this deal. They would have the opportunity to dump a large salary (he signed a five-year $81.6 million extension in the summer of 2010), and replace him with an expiring contract and a young, cheap, and talented player. The draft is one of the deepest in recent memory, and with the 5th pick many talented players will still be on board. Obviously this is the big incentive for the trade. Additionally, many have argued that Memphis plays better without Gay in the lineup, citing their run to the Western Conference finals last year in his absence when leaning heavily on the inside combo of Z-Bo and Marc Gasol. If we could get GM Chris Wallace to start drinking that Kool-Aid, than we could get him to pull the trigger. He’s certainly done stranger things (see the trade for Gasol, Pau).
Willis: GM Chris Wallace is an idiot who pissed off the entire league by trading Pau Gasol to the Lakers, and Ernie Grunfeld is one of the best swindlers in the NBA. If ever there were a combination of GM’s to make something like this happen, it would be these two. The draft is deep, and Harrison Barnes or Bradley Beal still might be available at the #5 pick. Memphis loves building through the draft and developing players, so this would be a coup in their eyes. With Z-Bo and Marc Gasol manning the helm, the Grizzlies made a strong push toward the Western Conference Finals. With Rudy in the mix and healthy? They were bounced in the first round by a weak Clippers team. The two aren’t necessarily causal, but their GM might believe otherwise. This could very well happen if the Wizards catch a bad break in the draft.
Bohlin: Currently, the Grizzlies have 9 players under contract for next season to the tune of $62,418,406, the projected cap is supposed to fall somewhere between 60-61 million dollars. The Grizzlies will be faced with some tough decisions this offseason as they will need to fill out a roster while potentially paying the luxury tax. Memphis isn’t exactly New York or Los Angeles so it isn’t a certainty that their owner will want to go far beyond that threshold, especially with the disappointing end to the season with this roster as is. Rudy Gay is owed roughly $53 million by Memphis through the 2014/2015 season. It is not crazy to think they would be interested in some salary cap relief while moving one of their larger, long term contracts out of town.
Could this trade actually happen under the current CBA? Of course it can! Why would we be writing this Pick and Pop otherwise people? To the Trade Machine! (DC Homecoming) As you can see, the Wizards could send Rashard Lewis and the hypothetical 5th overall pick (Couldn’t add picks yet so use your imagination) in the 2012 NBA Draft to Memphis for a package of Rudy Gay, Dante Cunningham and Josh Selby and it would work under the salary cap. This move would alleviate the Grizzlies of their long term salary cap constraints allowing them to continue to build around Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol and the Wizards would get their go-to-guy on the wing that they haven’t had since the days of Caron Butler. I’m not saying it would definitely happen but I think this would be one of those rare deals where both teams would ultimately benefit.
So this begs the question Wizards fans, Barnes or Gay…Who ya got?