Trade Center: NBA

Steve O Speak

The Deal:  The Washington Wizards trade G-F Caron Butler, C Brendan Haywood, and G DeShawn Stevenson to the Dallas Mavericks for G-F Josh Howard, F-C Drew Gooden, F Quinton Ross, and F James Singleton

Why This Deal Works For Washington:  Honestly it doesn’t, this is a bad deal all around for the Wizards. Yes they will shave over $20 million dollars off next years payroll, and save nearly $3 million on this season’s luxury tax bill, but that is all they got in this deal. While a lot will be made of that $20 million dollar figure, it should be remembered that its really only $14 million they saved, because Haywood’s $6 million was coming off the books regardless. It is inexcusable to package possibly your two best assets together to get only cap relief and to get rid of Stevenson’s contract. And its not as though Stevenson’s contract was a back-breaker, it was for only one more season at a relatively small rate, he is the perfect candidate for a buyout (which is likely what the Mavericks will do).

To not get a single draft pick, young player or rights to an international prospect is ridiculous. And for all the talk of this deal giving the Wizards the salary cap space to be active in next summer’s free agent market, there doesn’t seem to be much truth there. None of the good young stars are going to want to come to Washington, a team literally with no talent to build around.  And those free agents you do sign will probably be no better than Butler and Haywood, and you’ll overpay in money and years to bring them to Washington. This deal complicates things in Washington by limiting their options for the rest of the season. One potential benefit of trading away their veteran players, is that it would allow Washington to give some playing time to the young ‘talent’ that they have, Randy Foye, Nick Young, Andrey Blatche, and JaVale McGee (I personally don’t think these are future building blocks, but at least playing them would finally answer that question). Now by getting good veteran players back in the deal, such as Howard and Gooden, the Wizards will play them instead of giving minutes to their young core.

The only possible way this deal can work out for Washington is if they make additional deals to further turn around this team. Washington should now trade Antwan Jamison for the best deal they can get (hopefully getting an actual player/draft pick back in the deal), now that they are in rebuilding mode. They could look to flip Gooden and/or Howard in separate deals (you can’t package a player you just acquired for two months). Gooden could make sense in Portland, Memphis (possibly), maybe even Denver. Howard would be harder to deal, but not impossible. Another thing the Wizards could do with their new found cap space is essentially rent it out. Since it will be hard to convince top free agents to come to Washington, the Wizards could take on a short term bad contract and get a good young player and/or a draft pick for their troubles. If done properly it could be a huge benefit for Washington.

Why This Deal Works for Dallas:  This is a huge win-win deal for Dallas. By itself the deal doesn’t make the Mavericks that much more of a contender (they were already a mid-playoff team), but Butler and Haywood should fit their team better than Howard and Gooden. Haywood is a true center, and a tough defender. His offensive game is limited, but Dallas generates plenty of offense already. He now gives Dallas someone to match up against the Lakers and Nuggets bigs. Butler on paper is only a marginal upgrade over Howard, but I think this could be a case of looks being deceiving. Butler is now going from one of the leagues 5 worst teams, to one of the 5 best. He should have plenty of more opportunities (and motivation) to perform better. Not to mention having a true point guard like Jason Kidd feeding you the ball should help jump start Butler’s production. The deal also works out for Dallas next season as well. Howard would have had to been resigned (not a great proposition) where as now they have Butler for another season. And if he doesn’t work out they can always trade his expiring contract for another piece. Haywood is a free agent, but unlike Gooden, he’s a guy Dallas really would want to resign. Something they couldn’t have done if they didn’t make this deal, given their cap situation.

Winner:  Dallas by a wide margin wins this deal. They improved themselves this season, and likely next year as well (if they can resign Haywood) at the cost of taking on Stevenson’s contract, which they will probably buyout minimizing the cost. Washington is left with less trading flexibility and assets, though they do now have more money. It looks like things will get worse in DC before they get better, and this deal doesn’t give Wizards fans much in the way of confidence to a brighter future.

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