The rumors are swirling as we get closer to Thursday night's NBA Draft, and most experts seem to believe that tonight's draft will see the most trades we have seen in some time.
Wizards owner Ted Leonsis stated that the organization would stand pat at No. 3 shortly after the draft lottery, but now Washington is part of the rumor mill, reportedly entertaining offers to move down. It might just be an attempt to deter the Charlotte Bobcats from swapping spots with Cleveland at No. 4.
How out of hand are the trade rumors right now? One rumored deal had a team throwing in a copy of "The Dream Team" documentary DVD and the collectible cups. So the lesson is, don't believe anything you hear until it is a done deal this time of year.
If you are looking for a drinking game tonight, use the word "upside" and "length" and you will be trashed by 830 p.m. One downer about tonight's draft is the low number of Euro prospects. I always love the highlights that look like spy camera footage.
Anyway, enjoy the Draft, and here's hoping Commissioner David Stern doesn't ask anyone if they are beating their wife. In this week's edition of "Chain Reactions" we hit on the Wizards' draft night plans and take a look back at Washington's big pre-draft trade.
Plan A, B, C
I will give you the plan, the back-up plan, and the back-up plan to the back-up plan, assuming the Wizards stay at No. 3 (I know what happens when you ass-u-me), but what else is new?
Despite all the rumors, I still think the Wizards are going to be able to draft the player that fits their needs best and may be the 2nd best player in the draft. That player would be Bradley Beal from Florida.
The shooting guard has drawn comparisons to Ray Allen and Eric Gordon. His shooting form is out of a book and he can also rebound. He would fit in nicely next to John Wall in helping the Wizards spread the floor, and he has plenty of upside at just 19 years old (His birthday falls on Draft Day this year, actually).
No one seems to have a bad thing to say about Beal's character or personality either. I, like everyone else that has had the opportunity to interview him, have come away very impressed with his maturity and personality.
In this scenario, Beal is off the board, likely taken by the Cleveland Cavaliers who would move up to the 2nd spot. So what should the Wizards do? Taking D.C. native Thomas Robinson would be tempting to get some more rebounding. However, I think the need for shooting is too great.
I would take North Carolina's Harrison Barnes, who is a good shooter and scorer. Sure, he was not the star many expected at UNC. He was consistent for the Tar Heels, though, and he is super-athletic and might even be able to play some shooting guard at the NBA level. I also think he will be a better NBA player than college player.
First, you might be asking, why a third option, Scott? The Wizards only need one of their two picks to be there at No. 3. We all know Anthony Davis is gone at No. 1. So, this is here in case I'm completely WRONG about the Wizards' preference for Beal then Barnes.
So here is Plan C. Call it a cover-my-butt option. In this scenario, Beal is gone and the Wizards are bluffing on Barnes. They would then select Kentucky's Michael Kidd Gilchrist, who is a high motor guy and gets after it on the offensive boards. He has all the intangibles to grow into a great player on both ends of the floor, but still needs plenty of polish on his game.
If all else fails, trade back!
Gilbert Arenas Now Equals Okafor and Ariza
The Wizards made a trade ahead of the draft, dealing Rashard Lewis and his expiring contract and the 46th pick for Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza from the New Orleans Hornets.
Among the criticisms of the Wizards' deal were that they did not get the Hornets' 10th overall pick, which some reports claim they were dangling for anyone willing to take on Okafor's deal.
However, a source close to the situation in New Orleans assured me those reports are wrong and they were never offering up the 10th pick.
Another criticism: why wouldn't the Wizards just buy out Lewis for $13.7 million? For starters, it would only have freed up $3 million in salary cap space. They would still need to add a player or two, as well. There is also the issue of this being a bad free agent class.
Also, it seems to me that bad teams in the NBA never get any good free agents. So even if the Wizards amnestied Andray Blatche along with a Lewis buyout, they would have $10 million freed up and would still need to get players here. They also lose trade flexibility if one were to pop up that would help them, though.
So look at it this way: Okafor's deal is essentially for no money in year one, because if you bought out Lewis it would have counted for $13.7million against the cap. It is about cap management for the Wizards; they will take on some extra money for the 2013-14 season with Okafor (over $13 million) and Ariza (over $7 million) both having player options, which they would be crazy to not pick up.
The NBA proves year in and year out that expiring contracts are valuable, so who knows if these guys will even be here beyond this season. Will these players make the Wizards better? If healthy, sure. How much better? Tough to say until we see all the pieces together on the court.
The next two seasons are crucial for the Wizards development. It is the "Wall Window," as I have written about before in this space. It requires showing improvement as a franchise or John Wall will be headed elsewhere and everyone in the Wizards' front office and coaching staff will be looking for jobs.
Wall wanted veterans, and he has some now in Nene, Okafor, and Ariza. All are high character guys and pro's pros. There is work to be done. I'm not just talking about the roster. Wall himself needs to show serious improvement. Same goes for Kevin Seraphin, Jordan Crawford, Trevor Booker, Jan Vesley, Chris Singleton, and Shelvin Mack.
The other criticism about the deal is that these players will lose minutes. First of all, when has an NBA roster ever been entirely healthy? Nene, Booker, and Okafor all missed signficant time last season.
I believe that the best players thrive with competition. The best teams develop talent and the best talent works to be developed. Hopefully, a few of these young Wizards take big steps forward this season and move towards being high level talent.
The Wizards need at least 3 of these of these young players to turn into NBA-worthy players, or at the very least become assets that can bring those kind of players here. When and if that happens, this organization will no longer be a lottery regular.
Listen to Scott Jackson on ESPN 980's Draft Coverage Thursday at 7pm with former Terp and Wizard Laron Profit.