So we're at the All Star Break and the Bullets/Wizards have fallen short of even the most conservative estimates of their potential in the Leastern conference and are cellar dwelling with a gaudy 11-37 record. We invested $111 million in a combo guard who hasn't played since October of 2007 when he shot a gaudy 38% from the field.
I love Gilbert's charisma and a few years ago he was on the verge of becoming a legitimate stud. He gave us three very productive years ('04-'07) where he put up 25+ ppg, 6 apg and 4 rpg. At his best he's ultra competitive, hardworking and exciting. When healthy the bottom line is that he's a not a frachise guy so much as he's a financial franchise guy in that he puts butts in seats. It's important to realize the distinction. Iverson during his prime was a franchise guy-- for the last several years his shooting percentages have dropped and he's become more of a novelty/gate attraction than anything else.
If last year was an indicator of anything it might have been that Gilbert's style is not necessarily conducive to winning. He has never played defense with the requisite aplomb, and ever since Lebron whispered in his ear a few years ago he hasn't stood up to the league's upper crust in the same way as before. We lost him and didn't miss a beat. We rolled over in the playoffs for King James, the Cavaliers and potentially corrupt NBA officials just as we had the year before.
If you look at our roster Gilbert really isn't even the problem. His contract is going to probably kill the franchise if he can't return, but if by some token of good fortune he comes back at even 90% of his former self and the Wizards manage to add a Blake Griffin (knock on wood) to go with their current pieces they would have a promising young nucleus. You've got to like JaVale McGee just because he seems to be a 7-footer with a pulse, freakish athleticism and some shooting touch to boot. I was convinced that I would hate McGee, but despite his mistakes (which are plentiful) he seems to be a gamer which is half the battle in this league. I think in a few years he could be a really nice starter for us. If he's one 15th of the player his mom described him as in the Washington Post he'll be a 10 time all star.
Andray Blatche we may as well deal now for a box of KFC fried chicken before Ernie Grunfield or Eddie Jordan caps him from the grassy null. I could also see Eddie setting up a situation where Andray has to bang a prositute with a steel sword dildo like in the movie Seven. Basically Blatche has proven time and time again that he doesn't have the work ethic to turn himself into a consistent productive player. He's a young poor man's Tim Thomas-- and say what you will about Tim but at least he shows up in contract years.
Nick Young has some nice attributes but hes an 8th or 9th man on a good team-- he can fill it up but doesn't score efficiently enough-- he needs to dominate the ball to score and can't really do anything else. He's Courtney Alexander 2.0-- too much flash, too little substance. James Harden is about to make a very nice living by being the anti-Nick Young.
That being said I've always liked Critty's potential and I think Caron is great. If you saw Caron at UConn you knew he was going to be phenomenal. He was a complete man among boys-- he sent Julius Hodge home from the NCAAs with a Barkley-esque move at the top of the key and walked off the court like it was nothing while his teammates celebrated. He's tough as nails, competitive and a good guy to boot. I think everyone loves Caron and recognizes him as one of the few pieces anyone would be fortunate to have.
Antawn should be dealt. He's a good player and a class act and we owe him the chance to win something before he gets too old to be a real contributor. We also may as well try to get something for him while we still might be able to. We should have moved him when his expiring contract made him as valuable as it did.
Brendan Haywood is a nice reserve center on a good team. Etan Thomas probably should be on the Bucks. I've already said what I think about Blatche, and Pech is too green to really be a contributor. He also weighs less than I do and I'm 5'9.
The bottom line that Ernie seems to fail to realize and that Eddie never could grasp when he was here is that you aren't going to win a title or be truly good without a stud power forward or center who is going to dominate the paint. These pick and pop jump-shooting fours aren't going to get it done (Pech, Blatche, Songaila). Either we acquire this guy through the draft (which is really a crapshoot after Griffin) or we package our number one pick with Jamison and whoever else we can think of whose contract is expiring in the vaunted summer of 2010 and try to pry Amare or Bosh for 30 cents on the dollar. Cross your fingers for the number one pick... at least we didn't pay Elton Brand like Philadelphia.