News broke yesterday that the Washington Wizards and Los Angeles Clippers had a deal in place the night before the trade deadline that was squashed hours before the actual deadline. The proposed trade, Caron Butler for Trevor Ariza, didn’t sit well with Clippers owner Donald Sterling, so he backed off. The irony, Sterling may have actually saved another front office executive from making another trading blunder.
Ernie Grunfeld couldn’t have afforded to make the kind of mistake he attempted to by trading away Ariza. Yes, Butler was loved in the area. Yes, Butler provides more of an offensive threat on a nightly basis, but that trade would have interrupted the chemistry and locker room of the Wizards.
The Wizards have won seven out of the past nine games. Ariza has been playing an important role, coming off the bench providing a defensive presence and scoring. The contracts are about the same and Ariza is five years younger than Butler, who has also struggled to stay healthy since his last full year with the Wizards.
Would the trade have improved the team?
More than likely, no. Adding Butler to this team means readjusting the rotation. As of now, Ariza knows his exact role. Martell Webster knows his role. Butler changes that for Webster. The team would have to learn how to play with Butler and vice versa. None of these current players were on the roster the last time Butler put on a Wizards uniform. The Wizards, while not mathematically out of the playoff race yet, are more than likely headed for the lottery. There was no need to disrupt the chemistry that the team has built since the return of John Wall.
Grunfeld should call Sterling and thank him for backing out of that deal. The only way that trade would have made sense for the Wizards is if Butler’s deal expired after this season, but it doesn’t. Time and time again, Grunfeld has shown his incompetence as a GM when it comes to making trades. Ironically, trading for Butler the first time has been his best trade as GM of the Wizards. Maybe he was hoping for similar luck.