I can think of no harsher or more depressing condemnation of the, god, coming up on 15 years Ernie Grunfeld, a cartilage-brained nincompoop who never saw a ruinous short-sighted midseason trade he didn’t like, has spent as the head personnel honcho of the Washington Wizards than that the following sort of vaguely rumor-ish object, cast onto the internet yesterday by ESPN basketball columnist Zach Lowe, seems like exactly the sort of thing Grunfeld will do if nobody stops him:
The Wizards have investigated the market for [DeAndre] Jordan without gaining any traction, sources say. A package of Marcin Gortat, Jason Smith (perhaps heading to a third team), Kelly Oubre and a first-round pick has long been my favorite realistic Jordan package.
Now, listen. There is at least a decent chance that the source of this hypothetical trade is, like, Los Angeles Clippers consultant Jerry West, and he is trying to goose a sleepy market for DeAndre Jordan’s services by seeding the very plausible idea that the sport’s stupidest general manager is willing to make this trade. But, setting aside what I consider the very slim possibility that DeAndre Jordan and Anthony Davis swapped bodies, basketball skills, and ages while I was not paying attention, it is a very dumb and bad trade idea. That is both why this trade must not happen, and no assurance at all that it will not. And that, in turn, is why I am considering kidnapping Ernie Grunfeld and holding him hostage until Thursday’s trade deadline has passed, so that he cannot do this shit.
Hm, yes, the Wizards definitely should ship out a 22-year-old two-way wing with brain-melting athleticism who can guard multiple positions and hit 40 percent of his three-pointers, plus a first-round pick that would give them their best near-term shot at ever replacing that skill-set, to get an aging 29-year-old center who can’t score from outside the restricted area or play in fourth quarters and who will never ever get better than he already is and who isn’t all that good even now and who only has one extremely expensive season left on his hilariously oversized contract. This is the line of thinking that will land DeAndre Jordan in Washington, and my hastily detached head at the bottom of a pond. We’ve seen this line of thinking before, in the stupid Wizards diaspora.
The Wizards got Gortat in the first place when Grunfeld shipped out Emeka Okafor and a first-round pick to the Phoenix Suns, based on the very deeply insane idea that what his team needed more than it needed a first-round draft pick was to replace an injured, expensive, declining, obsolete seven-footer with a healthy expensive, declining, obsolete seven-footer. The Wizards got Ian Mahinmi when Grunfeld decided that the thing his team needed more than it needed $64 million worth of salary cap flexibility spread over four years was a second expensive, declining, obsolete seven-footer, so that two of the most expensive players on the roster could be range-free doofuses who can’t even play at the same time as each other. And that’s only centers: He traded away a first-round pick for a half-season rental of Bojan freaking Bogdanović just last season. And let’s just not even talk about way back when he traded the fifth pick in the 2009 draft for Mike fucking Miller and Randy fucking Foye when he could have used it to select Steph fucking Curry instead.
My eyelid is twitching right now!!!!!!
Both Gortat and Mahinmi are trash, of course—Gortat gave the Wizards some good seasons, but he’s 33 now and definitely trash. This of late has not prevented the Wizards from hanging out in the middle of the East playoff pack, or even more recently winning five straight games without John Wall. That’s because, turns out, you can get along just fine in the NBA even if your roster doesn’t include the best possible expensive, declining, obsolete seven-footer. Shit, man, you probably don’t need one at all.
Everybody has doofus-ass no-range centers; a healthy majority of the league’s teams have more than they want, thanks to commitments they made just before trends in the game rendered one-dimensional rim-protectors all but worthless. There are more doofus-ass no-range centers than the sport can fit. Meanwhile, just about every team is looking for players of Oubre’s broad profile: Athletic wing players who can defend, shoot, and do cool shit in transition. It’s possible they’ve never been in greater demand, as the NBA continues its rapid transition to a switching, positionless league. Even the teams that already have them want more of them; it is not possible to have too many of them. In Oubre, Grunfeld has one—a good one, one who has shown flashes of game well beyond the D-and-3 profile, one who jumps out of the gym and competes like a psycho, who fans go crazy for, who is on broadly the same career timeline as Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr. and not far enough behind Wall to hold him back or force the organization into an awkward choice between competing now or building to compete later. If Oubre has not already surpassed DeAndre Jordan’s value, not as an asset, but as an actual basketball player (and he might have!), then there is no doubt at all that he will have done so by this time next season. When DeAndre Jordan will count for $24 million against some team’s salary cap... and Oubre will count for an eighth as much.
All of the above are reasons why Ernie Grunfeld should not trade Kelly Oubre Jr. to the Los Angeles Clippers for DeAndre Jordan, let alone why he should not throw in a first-round draft pick on top of it. Some number of hours from now they may well be reasons why he should not have done that, but did it anyway, in which case they will also be reasons why I will have to go to jail for throwing my feces at him. I just wanted to explain my actions in advance, before I lose access to the internet.