First of all, let's remember that the trade between the Wiz and Wolves is still in the Tom Penn stage of being and until "proposed" becomes "official" I suppose we can't completely put this one in the books quite yet. For the purpose of this post, let's assume that the trade is official and that we are talking about a done deal. First a quiz.
How many of you believe that Mike Miller would have been with the Wolves in 2010? How many of you believe that Randy Foye would have been with the Wolves in 2010? For those of you who said "yes" to either question, how much do you think either of these players would have signed for?
While I'm sure there are some people who believe otherwise, I think it had become fairly clear over the past week or so that Miller and Foye were not long for the new world of David Kahn. Regardless of your thoughts on the merit of this take, the bottom line with the Wiz/Wolves deal, at least from a Wolves perspective, is that they gave up two dead-enders for a top 5 pick. The Wolves were able to grab a top 5 draft pick without giving away any part of their Kahn-based core.
In order to put this deal in perspective, let's take a look at the last deal that involved a #5 pick: The Seattle/Boston trade that involved Wally Szczerbiak, Ray Allen, Delonte West, and the 5th (Jeff Green) and 35th (Glen Davis) picks. The Wolves, like the Sonics, took on the dead-weight salary and top draft pick while the Wizards, like the Celts, took on the best current player(s). The Sonics bought the #5 pick by taking on Wally's huge contract. The Wolves bought the #5 pick by taking on roughly the same amount of salary (about $13.3 mil in 2009/10 money) while not giving up any additional picks or core assets. For a fan base that has grown accustomed to seeing trades where Marko Jaric requires Sam Cassell + a 1st rounder or Foye/Roy, it is nice to finally see a PBO get market value for a deal.
Moving beyond fair market value and core assets, let's ask another question: Where did the Wolves get beat up the most last season? At the 1, 2, and 3. It's not even close. The biggest reason why the Wolves were so often torn apart was because they were absolutely non-functional at the 1, 2, and 3. Outside of Foye's January, on both defense and offense, the Wolves simply couldn't compete at these positions. Think about that. Even if you want to keep Miller and Foye, they played at the positions where the Wolves were least competitive. Also keep in mind that keeping these two guys is keeping this status quo in place...on a 24 win club with zero effective perimeter play. Granted, Miller and Foye are probably better than they showed in Minny. By moving to a more talented team with a solid coach, they should play better simply by a change of scenery. That being said, not only did the Wolves give up 2 guys who weren't going to be with the team in 2010, but they gave up 2 guys that played at their 3 weakest positions.
Let's walk through the main objection to this deal: The Wolves took on a bunch of crappy power forwards with bad contracts for another pick in a bad draft.
It is true that the Wolves took on some salary to get this done. However, 2 of the 3 players have expiring deals and the 3rd will cost the team $4.8 mil with a 2010/11 ETO (Darius Songaila). Looking at it from another angle, Miller's contract disappears along with Etan Thomas and Oleksiy Pecherov while Songaila's contract almost exactly mirrors Foye's 2010 qualifying offer. If Songaila can play some Sheldon Williams-esque minutes while Pecherov and Thomas can spell Big Al (or Thabeet...more on that later) for 10 mpg, that's all you need to know about the on-court aspect of the Wiz players in this trade. The bottom line here is that the Wolves swapped out Foye's 2010 qualifying offer for Songaila and the #5 pick. Everything else wouldn't have existed on the Wolves one way or another had this deal gone down or not.
As for the worth of this particular draft, I will agree that it is not very top heavy. There are no Derrick Roses or Kevin Durants. What is there is depth at the point guard position as well as 2-3 nice combos/shooting guards. At 5 and 6, the Wolves should be able to walk away with the 1st or 2nd best point and the 1st or 2nd best shooting guard. I'm not sure a team like the Wolves could ask for much more...especially considering what they had to give up to be in such a position.
If you really want to nitpick this trade, you should do so from the idea that the expiring contracts of Foye and Miller could have been put to better use closer to the trading deadline and for a more established player. Any other argument runs into the basic point of this being a deal that essentially swaps Foye's 2010 QA for Songalia and the #5 pick. Plus, the Wolves still have the expiring contracts of Brian Cardinal, Craig Smith, Mark Madsen, and possibly Corey Brewer to throw around at the trade deadline (totaling approximately $14.7 mil). Even Ryan Gomes has a partial guarantee worth $4.3 mil that could be put to good use. In other words, they still have some expiring deals that could be used to take on a hefty deal or two. I almost forgot: The Wiz deal gives them 2 more expiring contracts worth about $8.8 mil.
One final question before we deal with the aftermath: If I told you at the beginning of the day that the Wolves could add the #5 pick while not giving up Kevin Love, Al Jefferson, pick 18, 28, 45, 47, or Nikola Pekovic; and that they would not add any money to the cap above and beyond Foye's 2010 QA, would you make that deal? Would you say it was a good deal? That's the bottom line here.
Where does this leave the Wolves? Their most valuable assets right now are Big Al, Love, the 5th pick, the 6th pick, Pekovic, the 18th pick, the 28th pick, and a decent amount of expiring deals. Talent-wise, they are in a world of hurt for back court performers. As it stands right now, Bassy and Bobby Brown are your favorite squad's starting guards. If this deal does one thing poorly, it probably tips the team's hands to any intentions they may or may not have with the 2nd pick. They don't need a big man with the roster in its current form. They need perimeter players in a bad, bad way. A bad way. They need a point and a shooting guard and they need them now. Whether this means they move 18 + 6 to Memphis for #2 and take Rubio + James Harden, Tyreke Evans, or Demar DeRozan; or if it means they sit pat and take Curry/Evans, Evans/Flynn, or Curry/DeRozan, they have put themselves in a position where they need to draft the back court of their future or else...well, the counter argument to this particular point is that they have simply placed themselves in a position to make a number of additional moves. I have a feeling we'll be seeing a few more deals before the week is out. As for this deal, I'm completely on board. It's a fantastic move that worked for both teams and cost the team next to nothing in terms of post 2009/10 assets. It's Kahn's second big move with the squad and it's the second correct one as well.
What say you?
PS: It should be noted that this deal puts an end to Kevin McHale's biggest blunder: Foye for Roy. It also sends Randy back to Randy Wittman, who is an assistant in D.C. Also, I think we now all have a good sense of what Kahn was talking about when he said that McHale probably wouldn't be comfortable with some of the moves coming around the bend.
PPS: For a Wizards perspective on the trade, please head on over to our excellent sister site Bullets Forever.