David Kay’s NBA season previews take a stop in our nation’s capital where one question rings loud; can rookie John Wall and veteran Gilbert Arenas co-exist in the same backcourt? Even if the duo does gel together this season, do not expect the re-building Wizards to be a major factor in the Eastern Conference.
Washington Wizards (26-56 in 2009-2010)
2010-11 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Javale McGee/Hilton Armstrong/Kevin Seraphin/Hamady Ndiaye
PF: Andray Blatche/Yi Jianlian/Trevor Booker
SF: Al Thornton/Cartier Martin/Josh Howard
SG: Gilbert Arenas/Nick Young
PG: John Wall/Kirk Hinrich/Lester Hudson
2010-11 Team Salary: Approximately $52.5 million
-Wizards sign G/F Josh Howard to 1-year, $4 million deal
-Wizards sign C Hilton Armstrong to 1-year deal for league minimum
-Wizards acquire PG Kirk Hinrich and PF Kevin Seraphin (17th pick) from Chicago for Cash Considerations
-Wizards acquire PF Trevor Booker (23rd pick) and C Hamady Ndiaye (56th pick) from Minnesota for SF Lazar Hayward (30th pick) and Nemanja Bjelica (35th pick)
-Wizards acquire PF Yi Jianlian and Cash Considerations from Nets for SF Quinton Ross
Off-Season Grade: B
Scoring the first overall pick in the NBA Draft was a huge score for the Wizards. After holding a fire sale last season and dealing three of their top players, Washington needed a new face of the franchise to breath some life into an organization that was facing a re-building effort. John Wall will provide exactly that.
The Wiz also took advantage of the Bulls’ desire to clear as much cap space as possible by acquiring Kirk Hinrich and the 17th pick for cash considerations. Hinrich’s salary is a little pricey at $17 million over the next two years but he should provide some solid depth in the backcourt behind Wall and Arenas. Washington has even toyed with the idea of starting all three in their pre-season action.
Other than those moves, it was a fairly “meh” off-season. I think Washington reached to trade up and get Trevor Booker with the 23rd pick. The team made another Hinrich-like deal in getting Yi from the salary dumping Nets. The Wiz also re-signed wing Josh Howard who is coming off a torn ACL and will not be ready for the beginning of the season.
All eyes will be on the Wall/Arenas backcourt and how they can co-exist together. Throughout his career, Agent Zero has been a player who thrives when the ball in his hands. With Wall’s play-making abilities at the point, Arenas switches to the two and will need to adapt to playing off the ball. So far, Arenas has said all the right things about allowing Wall to take over the franchise but we will see how long that lasts.
Up-front, expect a major improvement from third year center Javale McGee. He spent the summer participating in the Team USA camp and showed what he can bring to the floor with his length and athleticism. The Wiz are fairly inexperienced with their post players so he and Andray Blatche should see a lot of minutes as they are currently building blocks for the future.
If the Wall/Arenas marriage proves to be a good match and Arenas manages to stay on the floor for an entire season, Washington should be improved this season. But this team is in year one of re-building mode so sniffing the post-season will be a long shot.
Looking Ahead to Next Summer:
If the opportunity presents itself, I am sure Washington would happily trade Arenas and the four years, $80 million remaining on his deal. But that is an ugly contract for any team to take on so that seems unrealistic. Still, the Wizards are in a solid position with their cap situation and figure to have some money to play with next summer. If they stick to their plan, do not expect them to over-pay any free agents, but rather build through the draft and try to stockpile young players who can compliment future superstar John Wall.
NBA Power Ranking: 24th