The venerated sports analyst, who backed Ernie’s horrible decision to trade the number five pick in the 2009 draft, calls for the Wizards to move the number three pick in the 2013 draft. His thinking now is just as faulty and shortsighted as it was then.
Let’s say there was a local sports writer, let’s call him Mike Wise, who once upon a time endorsed one of Ernie Grunfeld’s worst moves as Wizards GM, namely his decision to trade the number five pick in the 2009 draft for veterans Mike Miller and Randy Foye.
“It’s easy to knock this deal,” Wise wrote then, in all apparent seriousness. “But on second glance, really, how can you?”
Well, we all know how that turned out. The Wizards would go on to win 26 games that season and 23 the next. Miller and Foye would do little of anything in Washington. Oh, and the number five pick? It could have been Ricky Rubio, Stephen Curry, DeMar DeRozan, Brandon Jennings, Jrue Holiday or Ty Lawson. Washington is still recovering to this day.
While Wise can’t really take the blame for the horrible outcome of the deal, the shortsightedness that went into his endorsement of it is his alone. His thinking at the time went something like this: a) the Wizards must “win now,” where winning is defined as the mediocre goal of getting to the playoffs; b) this must be the goal of the team because Ernie has something to prove, having gambled on resigning Gilbert the previous summer for $111 million; and c) since a lottery selection does not have value unless it can contribute to that goal, Ernie was was right to acquire “capable veterans” in Miller and Foye to do the job.
Fast forward to the present. Miraculously, with only a 12.4 percent chance of doing so, the Wizards nabbed the number three pick in last night’s draft lottery. Instead of drafting from position 8-11 as expected, and deciding between a serious rookie project or trading out of the 2013 draft for a veteran, Washington now has a chance to add an actual building block.
So what does Mike Wise have to say this time around? You’d think, after the Miller/Foye fiasco of 2009, he would exercise some caution. In fact, you might think he’d never write an opinion piece about the Wizards front office again. But just the opposite has happened. In his latest column, Wise doubles down. He calls for the Wizards to trade the 2013 pick and justifies his opinion on arguments recycled from 2009, with some novel – and fanciful – tidbits sprinkled in.
In the end, all options with this pick should be explored. But if the pick is moved, it shouldn’t be on the basis of Mike Wise’s boneheaded arguments. He is becoming to basketball punditry what Ernie is to running a team.
“Win now.” Wise admits that Nerlens Noel, Otto Porter and Victor Oladipo might be good additions to the team for years to come. “But,” writes Wise, “the Wizards don’t have years. They have next season. Postseason or bust. That’s it.”
That’s it…and then the Verizon Center explodes? The Armageddon-like sense of urgency and impatience is entirely nonsensical. Wise wants to achieve the mediocre goal of making the first or second round of the playoffs next season at all costs, even if that means forgoing the development of young talent and the possibility of contending for a title in the future. He literally makes no mention of a long-term plan and does not place the goal of “winning now” in broader context.
The irony in this, of course, is that the Wizards, by all accounts, are already a borderline playoff team on paper if healthy next year, regardless of off-season moves.
“Win now” because Ernie needs it. Some of the urgency expressed by Wise seems to be based on the fact that Ernie is in the last year of his contract. “Grunfeld can’t take a chance on this June’s No. 3 pick not being a key contributor this upcoming season,” Wise writes. “He has one year remaining on his contract with the team. He can plan for the future all he wants, but that’s a fact.”
Attn Mike: Nobody in Wizards Nation cares about Ernie’s situation. And the “fan base that hasn’t seen the playoffs in five years” is more interested in contending for a title rather than the short-term goal of making the playoffs. Wise’s impatience is his alone.
Draft picks have no value unless they help us “win now.” According to Wise, the pick should be traded because he doubts that any player selected by the Wizards “makes their mark next season.” Ernie should instead trade for a veteran “who could…help take this franchise to the second round for the first time since 2005.”
How stupid is this argument? Lebron James and Dirk Nowitzki failed to take their teams to the playoffs in their rookie years. Does Wise believe these teams should have opted to trade out of the draft? So many examples of this kind can be found.
Wise then says that the lottery is risky because only “two players drafted since 2010 have been selected to the all-star game — Kyrie Irving and Paul George.” Does Wise think the Wizards failed in selecting John Wall and Bradley Beal because neither has made the all-star team yet?
In addition to these shopworn arguments, Wise threw in some novel ideas this time around:
Greg Monroe. Wise is pedaling the idea that the Wizards can trade their number three pick and Trevor Booker to Detroit for Greg Monroe and the number eight pick. Um, good luck with that. Why would Detroit make that trade? I really don’t see it happening. If Ernie can make it happen, all power to him.
Danny Granger. Wise mentions the possibility of getting Danny Granger back in a trade. Not only is Granger on the wrong side of 30 and suffering from serious knee issues - he’s slated to make $14 million next year. Not sure the Wizards can take on that kind of salary. Why? Because Ernie adopted the “win now” philosophy, took on massive contracts in Nene, Okafor and Ariza, and thereby squandered our cap space.
Anthony Bennett. Why is Anthony Bennett not mentioned in Wise’s article? He’s clearly on the radar, even more so than Oladipo. It’s an amateurish omission, chiefly in service of the “hometown” angle Wise is trying to propagate. Yes, some sentimental fans would be excited by drafting Porter or Oladipo because they are local products. But that’s not why fans want to keep the pick.