Wizards Begin Operation Clean House
The slate is coming all clean.
by Quinn Peterson
And so it begins.
There comes a point in every NBA franchise when things get so horrific, so out of control, that it’s time to start offing guys like Avon Barksdale. It has nothing to do with bad records, teams deal with those all the time. This is about a bad “image.” Such is the case in Washington right now after the gun rubbish that happened in December.
We’ve seen this before actually. Think back to November 14, 2004. Malice at the Palace. You know the story. The aftermath is what we’re concerned with here.
January 25, 2006, Ron Artest gets shipped to Sacramento for Peja Stojakovic.
Operation Clean House underway.
That summer, Anthony Johnson, James Jones, Fred Jones and Scot Pollard all signed with other teams. Jonathan Bender was waived. Austin Croshere sent to Dallas. Reggie Miller retired (he would have been exempt from this though).
Less than a year after Artest is sent packing, on January 17, 2007, Al Harrington and Stephen Jackson…gone! In exchange, Indy gets Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy, Ike Diogu, and Keith McLeod from Golden State.
A year and a half later, Jermaine O’Neal…gone! Pacers get Rasho Nesterovic, TJ Ford, Maceo Baston and Roy Hibbert from Toronto.
They couldn’t find a suitor for Jamaal Tinsley, who was on IR the season the brawl happened. After years of injuries, ignorance and potato chips, the Pacers just went ahead and told him to stop showing up just before the ‘08-09 season. Waived that summer.
And today, there’s Jeff Foster. The lone member of that ‘04-05 Indiana Pacers team.
It’s not that teams don’t make deals, but teams don’t slash entire rosters that fast, and they definitely don’t rid themselves of every marquee player they have, especially when what’s received in return is nowhere near equal in value.
When you look at them now, many of those guys are still quality players on their respective teams, and definitely could have gotten some Ws had they continued playing together. O’Neal has been formidable in Miami, Artest is still one of the League’s best defenders, Jacko gets buckets wherever he goes, and Harrington has had he luxury of playing for D’Antoni.
Now it’s the Wizards’ turn and they’ve wasted no time getting started. In the past week, Caron, Antawn, Brendan Haywood and Deshawn Stevenson…all outta there! Butler and Jamison are two of the League’s elite forwards and I’m sure a there’s a decent-sized list of teams that would welcome Haywood with open arms. In return, they got virtually nothing other than Josh Howard and who knows how productive he’ll be.
Those were just the first steps. We know Crittenton’s done. Though his contract didn’t get voided, he’s off the books anyway. And like him, Earl Boykins, Mike Miller, Mike James, Fabricio Oberto, Paul Davis and Dominic McGuire all have contracts up at the end of the year.
The same goes Big Z and James Singleton, who arrive in Washington via the aforementioned trades with Butler and Jamison. Josh Howard has a team option. No way they pick that up.
That leaves Nick Young, Randy Foye, Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee and Al Thornton as the only Wizards with contracts that take them through next season. (A heck of a youth core, to be honest.) Even of that group, only Blatche is guaranteed through 2012.
And what’s to say Washington doesn’t up and trade some of them in the offseason, too.
Thus, as you can see, the Wizards have set themselves up perfectly to have their entire January 5, 2009 roster (the last game before the suspensions were handed out), erased in less than three years. Larry Bird and Donnie Walsh should take notes.
The only one unaccounted for is Gilbert who’s situation is a beast of its own.
Rebuilding isn’t an excuse. If it were rebuilding, you’d move maybe one of your studs — not every single one.
This is something different. Fiascos so foul that teams look to quietly dump rosters over night faster than they can even be Tweeted. For the fans, for the League, for the sake of team chemistry? All of the above are reasons the suits slap on the black leather gloves and do the dirty work.
Both teams had specific culprits. Artest, Jacko and O’Neal in Indy, and Gilbert and Crittenton in DC. But both situations left such a stigma, such a stink, every player on that team would be associated with it as long as they donned that jersey.
Although Crittenton and Gil were the only ones who pulled pieces, every player on that team knew something. Too much. The way information has slowly leaked out makes that clear. Things that happened in the lockeroom didn’t stay there, and once that point’s been reached there’s no hope for a return to decency (morally or on the court). Some guys snitching, some guys not saying anything at all. Either way, all witnesses are suspects and fair game, innocent bystanders included.
We’re seeing it happen right before our eyes, as the Wizards take after the Pacers, and have started playing the Nick Santoro role better than Joe Pesci.
The question now: who’s next?