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Wizards Trade Is About Them, Not You

Jun 28, 2010 – 12:23 PM
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Bethlehem Shoals

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Kirk HinrichIt's now been a full four days since the Bulls traded Kirk Hinrich and the 17th pick to the Wizards for a future second-rounder. With that, Chicago cleared enough cap space to sign LeBron James and another max player. That makes them the putative front-runner in the Bron-stakes, except for maybe the Heat's dream of, as Tom Penn put it, "clearing the decks" and signing three superstars.

This event changed the game, altered the landscape, and upended all expectations for whatever comes next this summer -- no matter how sick of it we are at this point.

Hence, to most in the basketball community, it reads like this: Wizards give up cap space to take on cap space and in the process, expand the Bulls free agent horizons. When cap space has become the game's common currency -- not players, or a combination of them, or long-term goals -- the Wiz come off looking like goats. Maybe even villains. They were robbed of a precious resource. And, in a diplomatic blunder that historians will never cease to groan over, Ernie Grunfeld put Chicago in a position to conquer the world.

But guess what? There are players involved here, and for teams with a different set of priorities (like, say, the Wizards), infinite cap space only means so much.

Their front office really liked Kevin Seraphin, as did many others, and the young French player could turn out to be Serge Ibaka-lite. And while Hinrich may be overpaid, he is an excellent defender who can take on off-guards and would work well next to John Wall, or as part of a rotation with Gilbert Arenas. The Wizards had a lot of space this summer, but they weren't making a run at James or Dwyane Wade.

So why should it matter if this trade opens things up for Chicago? It's not like they're allowing the Axis to assemble or something. They have simply made a move that had enormous repercussions for that parallel universe where only cap space and free agents matter. For the Wizards, the deal makes sense. It's part of rebuilding, or reconstituting, their fallen team. It's not their job to limit LBJ's options, and this in no way approaches Pau Gasol-to-LA as far as lopsidedness is concerned.

It's too bad for other teams in the 2010 rat race that the Wizards did what they did. That doesn't mean, though, that it's automatically a bad or foolish move. At the end of the day, what it means is LeBron James just isn't DC's problem.
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