Originally written on Wizards Extreme  |  Last updated 6/20/12

First, JaVale McGee and Nick Young. Now, finally, Rashard Lewis.

Ted Leonsis and Ernie Grunfeld are systematically cleaning house. Loafing and underachieving are no longer going to be tolerated.

Somewhere in South Beach, Andray Blatche is shaking in his boots.

In just a few moves, Grunfeld is progressively transforming an immature team that was once the laughing stock of the NBA. Going into the season the Wizards’ idea of veteran leadership was Rashard Lewis and Andray Blatche, and we see how well that worked out. It was the additions of Nene, James Singleton and Cartier Martin that were a huge part of the Wizards ending the season winning 8 out of 10 including a six game winning streak.

Rashard Lewis played in 28 games and averaged 7.8 points and 3.9 rebounds per game while making $21,136,631. Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza played 27 and 41 games respectively and averaged a combined 20.7 points and 13.1 rebounds per game, while making a combined $19,332,453. Keep in mind that the Rashard Lewis contract can be bought out this season for about $13 million, the primary reason the Hornets made this trade.

Dell Demps most likely has no intentions of pairing Lewis with the number 1 overall pick Anthony Davis. With Andray Blatche seemingly destined to join the amnestied club (fingers crossed), Ted Leonsis will already be paying one guy to not play and the idea of paying Lewis $13 million to go away seems excessive.

So, instead of Lewis playing half the season half-heartedly, only to get a huge payday to not show up, the Wizards were able to flip him for two serviceable veterans who could possibly end up in the starting lineup next season.

Now before you bemoan the Wizards giving up their salary cap flexibility for two aging and injury prone veterans, let me point out a couple of things:

  • While Okafor and Ariza are considered to be overpaid and have at least two years left in their contracts, the Wizards just need them to be role players and leaders. Nothing more, nothing less.

  • In this age of “taking your talents to South Beach”, the Wizards are not a top tier destination for free agents. So the idea of hoarding cap space in order to make an offer to Dwight Howard or some other mercurial superstar only to be spurned does not entice me.

  • The mission here should be to provide John Wall with some stability by keeping our young guys together and provide them with veteran support and leadership. It seems as if Ernie Grunfeld has finally figured this out.

  • Lastly, this makes the decision on whom to draft that much easier, Bradley Beal welcome to the Washington Wizards.
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