By now, if you are one of the few Wizards fans that haven’t blown their head off, you may have heard about the trade that wasn’t. As reported by the Washington Post, the Wizards were offered James Harden just for Bradley Beal and Chris Singleton. The reason the trade was nixed was because Ted Leonsis, the owner, refused to give Harden a max deal which is around 5 years/$80 million. Now all of these rumors could very well just be hype. There were rumors of Harden coming to Washington during the draft. Other teams were also in the mix like the Pacers and Warriors. And in reality, the package that the Rockets offered the Thunder was better than the Wizards’ so who knows if the Thunder would have signed off on it. But hear me out on this.
It’s rare that you see what the price would be to make a trade. For example, remember when there were Gilbert Arenas for Kobe Bryant rumors during the Smush Parker years out west. At the time, many Wizards did not want to make that trade because they felt Arenas was ascending and Kobe was descending in superstardom. Looking back now, if the Lakers had really offered that trade, if they even picked up the phone just to kick some ideas, every Wizards fan would jump on it! That’s called opportunity cost. What is the price of the next best alternative. So going back to this Harden trade, to be fair, most fans in October (including myself) would say that Leonsis was right that Harden was not worth the max, especially coming off the Finals. Also, Beal was suppose to be the next Ray Allen and a lot of people in the organization loved him. But today? I would throw in Stadium Night Club, mumbo sauce, and some Nike Boots, anything to get Harden on this team. That’s what makes this news hurt, if it is true. Because opportunities like this don’t come around. And opportunities like this cost.
Who knows who leaked this information. It may be a disgruntled Ernie Grunfeld, who has loved Harden for a long time. He may have had the trade with the ink drying, and just needed the owner to sign off. And the owner would not pay for the opportunity. So this hurts because this goes into what I have been saying for a long time now; what’s the plan? How can you extend the Arenas shackles with the trade for bums like Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza, but not be willing to put out for one of the best shooting guards, if not one of the top 10 best scorers in the league? And he is only 24!
I know Leonsis has valued building through the draft. He did it with the Caps; that team has yet to make it past the second round of the playoffs. So he is trying it with the NBA. Doesn’t work my brother. This is a star driven league. It is a league where you need at least one max guy; it used to be two until Dallas won in 2011. But you have to spend money to win championships, unless you get lucky. And with Grunfeld, you can’t get lucky because you don’t put yourself in a position to get lucky when you draft Jan Vesely with the 6th pick. And don’t say you can’t get lucky with picks 6-15. The Golden State Warriors are the eternal late lottery picks. They are wrecking the league this year! With Harrison Barnes (7th; Wizards picked Beal #3), Draymond Green (35; Wizards – Satornasky -32!), Klay Thompson (11th; Wizards Vesley 6), and Steph Curry (7th; Wizards traded the 5th pick for Mike Miller and Randy Foye), the Warriors stuck with an actual plan, got knuckleheads (Monta Ellis) off the team and got a coach to build them up. That’s why they are having early success this season. However with the Wizards news, we are reminded that the front office are throwing stuff at the wall hoping it would stick. We’re shedding contracts one minute, we’re trying to lure big ticket stars. We’re going for youth, we need solid vets. But what is the true plan to win? What are the Wizards, especially the owner, really want for this team?
That’s what makes this frustrating as a fan. Did I expect Harden on this team? Not really. Did I expect Beal to be better than he has been? Yes. Am I worried about John Wall? Absolutely. Do I believe that the front office can do what it takes to put a consistent winner on the floor? I don’t know. Because great opportunities in the NBA cost; they cost an arm and a leg. And the Wizards, so far in this new ownership group, have proven they are not willing to put forth the money (and time and energy) needed to acquire it.