Missed Opportunities

I agree with John Hollinger about the Wizards' questionable offseason moves:

In three seasons with the trio of Arenas, Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler, the Wizards have won 43, 41 and 42 games and haven't made it past the first round of the playoffs. The three players are 26, 32 and 28, respectively, so it seems likely that we've seen about the best we're going to get from them. They're an average team, and without an infusion of vastly better players around them, they'll keep being an average team.

Yet instead of blowing that trio up, the Wizards took a Bob-Beamonesque leap of faith this week. First they extended Jamison for four years and $50 million, and then they offered Arenas a monstrous six-year, $127 million package. Given that Arenas is coming off a major knee injury that kept him sidelined nearly all of last season and is heavily dependant on his quickness to be an elite scorer, his offer in particular appears to be a reach.

The trouble is that I think the Wizards think our "big three" is really superb and the team is only average because they have a below-average supporting cast. I don't think the evidence bares that out, either if you look at certain fancy statistical metric or simply the commonsense observation that losing Gilbert Arenas didn't hurt the team very much. Brendan Haywood, Antonio Daniels, DeShawn Stevenson, and Andray Blatche aren't great basketball players but as 4-7 guys in the rotation they're totally fine. The issue is that Arenas, Jamison, and Caron Butler are all kind of borderline stars. In the case of Butler that's great since he's cheap.

But the kind of money they just committed to Agent Zero needs to be saved for a truly phenomenal player. If it wasn't possible to resign Jamison and Arenas on the cheap, then this summer was a chance to blow the team up and rebuild around Butler's excellent contract and the team's decent supporting players. Instead, we're going back to war with what we had, hoping Jamison never shows his age and Gilbert's knee doesn't hamper his effectiveness.