Continuing our new tradition, I sent some quick questions to Pradamaster from the terrific SBNation blog BulletsForever. Here are his answers to my
Bullets Wizards questions. My answers to his questions will be linked soon.
ClipperSteve: The Wizards have had much more success without Gilbert Arenas than the Clippers have had without Elton Brand. Is there any explanation for the relative differences in the impact of a lost All Star on these two teams?
BulletsForever: I suppose the best answer would be to look at the surrounding casts of these two teams, at least those before all the other Wizards injuries. Without Arenas, the Wizards still have several average-to-good-or-better players on the roster. Let's not forget about the two all-stars. Caron Butler, before his injury, was having an unbelievable year, and Antawn Jamison is a one-time all star in the midst of one of his best seasons. The Wizards' role players are pretty solid too. Brendan Haywood is perhaps the second-best center in the Eastern Conference, though Eddie Jordan evidently is now failing to realize that. Antonio Daniels, before his ankle got tender, was one of the best backup point guards in basketball, and even DeShawn Stevenson, though up and down at times with his shot, has morphed into a relatively solid shooting guard option. Throw in the young guys -- Andray Blatche, Nick Young, and Roger Mason -- and that's still not a terrible roster.
Without Brand, the Clippers have Chris Kaman, Corey Maggette, and...well, Cuttino Mobley, I guess. Because of their free agent splurge two summers ago, they've got too many veterans used to playing off Brand that can't do so right now. I'm talking Sam Cassell, Cuttino Mobley, Tim Thomas, etc. At least with the Wizards, you have two legitimate all-stars and several other role players to fall back on.
A quick note from ClipperSteve: before everyone gets all defensive about this answer, I have to say it was a bad question. And the basic gist - Butler and Jamison provide a solid core without Arenas - is probably the right answer. Of course, the additional injuries to Butler and Daniels have left the Wizards losing as much as the Clippers, and the Clippers injury woes go way beyond Brand. So that's also a big part of the answer. But I don't want anyone to go out there flaming Pradamaster - I asked, he answered, he's a guest here, and if you want more of these Q&A sessions, you can't flame the guests.
ClipperSteve: Continuing the Arenas/Brand analogy line of questioning, they both intend to return and play this regular season, and they both have opt outs this summer. What's the skinny on Agent Zero's return? What will happen this summer?
BulletsForever: Arenas is targeting an early-March return, and my guess is he'll honor it, only because it's clear that Gilbert needs the game just as much as the game needs Gilbert. The subtext of every interview and every word on his blog is clear: he's bored, and wants back in. I mean, the dude is talking about shaving his hair down there and ranting about why Jose Calderon apparently sucks (I mean, did you read that? It made no sense). He clearly has an itch that needs scratching.
As far as the offseason, your guess is as good as mine right now, but I imagine he'll opt-out as planned, and Ernie Grunfeld will re-sign him. I don't see anyone with cap room prying him away, though I could see them driving up his price into the max contract territory, as it should be. And really, like I said in the Q&A with GSOM yesterday, it makes no sense not to re-sign him, because it would mean Ernie Grunfeld is admitting that all the re-tooling he has done in the last few offseasons to make this team younger is moot. I mean, I know the Wizards have been the same type of mediocre team for the past three years, but Arenas will be 26, Butler will be just 27, and even Jamison is a relatively young 32. They're surrounded by a core that includes just one other guy (Daniels) in his 30s. This group still has a lot of room to potentially grow, and not re-signing Arenas is getting rid of the head of the snake.
ClipperSteve: Gil's not the only All Star the Wizards could lose this off-season. What's your take on Antawn Jamison's impending free agency? When the Warriors made him a max player 7 years ago, it seemed crazy, but he's been incredibly productive. What is the market for a 32 year old tweener who's currently making $16M? I certainly don't envy Ernie Grunfeld's situation this summer.
BulletsForever: Again, I have no idea what Jamison's market will be, but I'm silently hoping that none of the teams with cap room would want him anyway. That might drive his price down to the 8-10 million range, in which case, the Wizards should probably re-sign him, provided the length of his contract is relatively short (3 years or less). He's really improved his defense this year, which was once his biggest weakness, and like you said, he's still quite productive and, despite what it may seem, pretty efficient. He also plays a key leadership role, though you should never sign anyone to a big contract based simply on this. The hope is they'll re-sign him and slowly decrease his minutes to allow Andray Blatche to grow into the starting spot, which will allow Jamison to get more rest in the regular season, kind of like Jerry Stackhouse, the man he was traded for in 2005, does in Dallas.
Thanks for taking the time Pradamaster! And sorry in advance for the angry comments over at BulletsForever.