While Matt Moderno and I had a bit of a laugh about the Wizard’s penchant for acquiring near—great players—Donovan Mitchell is the recent-on his Bleav podcast at Wizards, the truth is Wizards has never been a serious option. The reason is simple: they do not have the means to conclude a deal of this scale.
What the Mitchell deal highlighted to me is an opportunity that the Wizards missed with Bradley Beale. The deal-interesting young players, a rookie with potential, three first-round picks and two exchanges-is exactly the deal the Wizards should have made with Beale two years ago.
This is not a revisionist story. Many observers, including me, thought it was reasonable to trade with Bill. He was very good, but not at the level of real elite players who form the basis of the contenders for the championship. And it was clear that a huge salary would be required to keep it, which from the very beginning was almost guaranteed to turn into a bad contract.
None of this should be interpreted as review of Beale. He’s a good guy who’s worked hard and is closer to reaching his potential than any other player selected by the franchise, perhaps since Wes Anseld.
What I’m looking at is the strategic decision-making by franchise executives Ted Leonsis and Tommy Sheppard. Because it’s hard not to see what Danny Ange has been doing in Utah so far without realizing how unreliable the Wizards are in putting a quality team in place.
Remember Leonsis’ 10-point recovery plan? Here are some relevant excerpts:
Ask yourself a big question: “Will this team — in the form in which it is built — ever be able to win the championship?” If the answer is positive, continue in the same spirit and try to find the right formula – if the answer is negative, plan a recovery. Don’t pretend – really do the tests and be extremely honest. Once you have the answer, develop a game plan to try to truly win the championship. Always run away from experts who say, “We’re just one player.” Understand that there is no simple and quick system solution.
After you have decided to rebuild — to put the house on the foundation — agree with your plan — and with your questions – we have always sought to get “choice and perspective” in all our professions. We believed that volume would give better results than accuracy. We decided to trade a few stars in their best or best times to get a large number of young players. Young players get better with age, so they have created an advantage. Teenagers urge veterinarians to play better in order to do their job, and they stay healthier and have more fun — they get less tired of professional sports.
Commit to building around the project. Invest in the exploration, development and creation of the system. Formulate this system and stick to it so that all players feel comfortable — know the language — know what is expected of you — read the Oriole way *. It worked, and it’s a great guide. Draft players who fit the system, not the best player. Create the best player for the system. Do not deviate and do not succumb to the temptation of agents, media demands or just statistics or hype. Imagine how this player enters your system.
Perhaps you will pay the maximum money and give all the benefits to the expensive departure of a very good player who has worked in your team for ten years, as part of the Leonsis plan with 11 points.
Of course, I reread the 10-point plan and realized that there is little evidence that he ever worked with wizards. Over the years, the Wizards have held a series of “one-player away matches”, never seriously fought for the championship and never showed the analytically motivated brutal honesty that Leonsis considered necessary.
Meanwhile, Utah looks like it will follow this plan. Two seasons ago, the Jazz had the best result in the league. But after several failures in the playoffs, the Utah leadership realized that the team would not win the championship, and turned its best players into a mountain of future assets.
Now the most difficult thing for jazz is to turn all these assets into a quality team. This is the moment when so many choices accumulate. You can make deals, place bets on several potential customers, and even skip some of them.
Wizards? They have a narrow path to the playoffs. There is no realistic way to achieve the same success as the Ainge jazz team has just disbanded. But in the classic style of #SoWizards, they are trying to “win now.”