Time for Wizards to Dump This Nucleus
No economic rebound is going help now. Once a dog, always a dog.
Shame on management for keeping this cast together too long. Loyalty backfired in Washington.
Someone in that front office should be hollering "sell, sell, sell.'' They should have made wholesale changes this summer, but better late than never.
Despite some misguided preseason predictions that the Wizards suddenly would become Eastern Conference contenders, a little makeup -- a new coach, a couple new role players -- wasn't going to turn a bad mix into a sleek new ride
They don't need a makeover now. They need to blow it up.
This is the fifth consecutive season that Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler, Gilbert Arenas and Brendan Haywood have been together, and they never have been more divided. Individually, they all have their strengths. Together, they are festering.
As Tom Ziller has mentioned more than once, the only thing worse than Washington's shot selection this season has been its defense.
This nucleus was never any better than average a few years ago, and it has only gotten worse. Individually, they all talk a good game, but it looks like they are speaking different languages now. It doesn't translate well when too many bad defenders play together.
"We're disappointed with the losing, and the lack of consistency,'' general manager Ernie Grunfeld told the Washington Post recently. "Nobody is happy.''
It's not just the losing. It's the team they are losing with. The Wizards (10-20) have a payroll of $79 million, eighth highest in the league and hopelessly over the salary cap and into the luxury tax territory.
Eight of the 10 highest-spending teams in the league are winning, which makes the tax more palatable. The Knicks are the other loser in the top 10, but at least they have a plan to go under the cap this summer in hopes of rebuilding quickly. Their losing comes with a glimmer of hope.
With this roster, the Wizards still will be over the cap next season, too, which is why Grunfeld should be the league's busiest man in the next few weeks leading into the trade deadline.
Waiting for a turnaround now will be like sinking in quicksand.
"Right now, we stink and we're showing it,'' Arenas told reporters in Washington. "You can sit here and talk about it every day, every game, every loss, but until we turn it around, we stink.''
The return of Arenas, after serious knee issues kept him out for much of last season, was expected to spark an improvement. Instead it has complicated any plan to rebuild. He can still score, but he still doesn't make others around him better, which the Wizards must have forgotten when they re-signed him to a league-maximum contract.
He still has another four years and $80 million left on his deal, which is a good reason to dump him on Houston for Tracy McGrady and his expiring contract.
Jamison has another two years and $30 million. Butler has one more year at $10.8 million. Only Haywood at $6 million comes off the cap this summer.
It's up to Grunfeld now to clean up the mess that he handed to new coach Flip Saunders.
"Something has to change,'' Jamison also told the Washington Post. "I'm not saying we have to do anything drastic, but we have to change ... It's the guys who are in this locker room. Why hasn't it changed? I have no idea.''