I fought it until the bitter end. I did. I went all the way to the wire with JaVale McGee. As a fan, I can admit to being guilty of putting on blinders to things. Sometimes, even if we KNOW the truth, we deny it or keep ourselves from admitting it just because we WANT to believe otherwise. It started to get difficult. I definitely began to waver over the course of the season though, you HAVE to give me that. You know what? I'm not even going to get into it. Let's move forward.
When I first heard of the trade that sent JaVale McGee to the Nuggets, Nick Young to the Clippers, and Nenê, a future second-round pick, and
a 240-lb bench weight Brian Cook to the Wizards, I found myself being a bit cynical about it. Nenê? Isn't he overpaid? Aren't his knees shot? Isn't he always injured? What happened to Hilario? Why did Denver dump him so quickly after signing him to a five-year deal? But as I thought more about it and weighed the positives, I began to feel better about things. After several days, I now feel a LOT better about it. I would say that we took a gamble here, but it seemed to be a necessary gamble.
I remember the testicular cancer and I know that he's a tough guy, but the first thing I naively thought of regarding Nenê was that he seemed to ALWAYS be hurt. I was surprised and encouraged to find that since returning from his leave of absence at the end of the 2007-08 season, Nenê has played 77, 82, and 75 games, respectively. He's had nagging foot and calf injuries this season, but nothing apparently knee-related.
The second cynical thought was that this Nenê character is about to be 30 years old, a history of knee injuries, and making $13 million per year for the next four seasons after this one. He's been in the league for ten seasons (he did miss almost two entire seasons with the aforementioned ailments), that's a lot of mileage on those legs. How do we know this isn't going to be a case of us again trading young for old, bringing in yet another washed-up vet, coming to Washington to grow old and wither?
But then I thought about what we had. A pair of guys that, while I still have no doubts that they want to improve and be great NBA players, just don't seem to have it upstairs to handle the roles that we expected of them at this point. In situations where they are not pillars of the team, maybe Nick and JaVale will pan out and flourish. It wasn't happening here, though. So in this scenario, if you add one and subtract two, I think that the result is positive. I believe the phrase "addition by subtraction" comes to mind.
We HAD to do something and, to be honest, we could've done worse. Nenê brings a sense of professionalism, on-court smarts, and attitude (already displayed) that I think we needed. He can serve as a mentor to Kevin Seraphin, who has shown obvious improvement over the last couple of months (didn't he say Nenê was his idol or something at some point? Or did we try to compare Nenê's game with where we thought Kevin's could go?) And he still has value to be traded if it doesn't work out. Given the salary floor, and the fact that if we let JaVale walk we would've needed a center anyway, I'm fine with the move. It's one less position to worry about in the draft and in free agency, allowing us to focus on the SF and SG positions this offseason.
It could also provide John Wall with some sort of sense that the organization is serious about improving and not wasting his formative years as a pro by surrounding him with players with either questionable work ethics, limited on-court awareness, or selfish agendas. He says all the right things, but who knows, Wall may have been seriously beginning to question the direction of the franchise and if he wanted to be a part of it moving forward. I think getting a guy like Nenê could speak volumes to John Wall. I also think that having a veteran teammate that is a professional AND a vital cog on the team, not a bit player, can rub off positively on him.
This offesason is CRUCIAL to this team's long-term success. We've basically begun another on the fly rebuild, starting with acquiring Nenê and getting rid of Nick and JaVale. Oh, and JaVale's mom. All we need to do from here is amnesty Blatche, pay off the remaining guaranteed portion of Rashard Lewis' deal, nail a money swing player in the draft, sign another, and figure out who the new coach and GM will be, and we'll be all set! Simple, right?
In closing, Andray Blatche is fat. Later!