Can/Should Wizards Make Move for #1 Pick?

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

The Wizards have two main assets: the borderline All-Star talents of Gilbert Arenas and the still untapped potential Kwame Brown. Brown, the much-maligned overall #1 pick from three years ago, is only six months older than Emeka Okafor. Is there any doubt that had Brown gone the traditional NCAA route and declared this year he would be the consensus #1 pick, or at least give Okafor and Dwight Howard a good run? Many observers have felt that Brown still has tremendous upside and simply needs a change of location and a clean slate. Could he fit in well with Tracy McGrady? Would the Magic consider a #1 for #5 swap if it also lands them a young, athletic, promising big man? Should the Wizards consider making a move for the #1 pick?

For Orlando, getting Brown and the #5 pick in exchange for virtually any contract would give them both a big man and another top player, maybe another big like Andris Biedrins, or a point guard like Devin Harris or Ben Gordon. It could be the difference-maker in keeping Tracy McGrady, as it would show him, much like Kevin McHale showed Kevin Garnett this past offseason, that the team is committed to winning now.

Furthermore, T-Mac's and Kwame's personalities may be a good match. It was widely reported that Michael Jordan and Kwame did not see eye-to-eye on the amount of effort and work needed. McGrady's seemingly laid-back approach may be just what the doctor order for Brown. For the Wizards, it would be a shame to lose Brown, as in several seasons he may become yet one more former Wizard to make it great. It's already hard enough watching Rip Hamilton in the finals.

More specifically, it would be a potential risk, not a shame. If instead they can get either Okafor or Howard (and if the Wizards are looking to build for the long-term, maybe Howard is the better choice for them), then it may not be such a bad idea.

Suppose the Wizards were to move Brown, the #5 pick, and Chris Whitney for Juwan Howard and the #1. From the Magic's point of view, they are moving Juwan, something they have long been rumored to be considering, and are getting essentially two draft picks: Kwame and the #5. For Washington, they are getting a veteran center/power forward and the overall #1 draft pick, which can be used either on Okafor or on Howard.

If the Wizards could unload Jerry Stackhouse's contract in the process, it would simply be a dream come true. But they'd merely have to take someone else from the Magic in return, and gambling on Grant Hill may not be the best move for the Wizards.

The point here is not that Juwan Howard would be a better fit for Washington than Kwame Brown: it's simply an existence proof of the idea that a move up may be worthwhile for both teams.

Should they consider such a move? Or is it too early to give up on Brown? After all, Juwan Howard will not be running the floor for Eddie Jordan half as well as Brown would. In the end, the important thing is to build a core group of talented players that, above all else, STAY IN WASHINGTON. The hypothetical deal discussed here seems to be a boon to Orlando, and given their need to convince McGrady to stay, perhaps that will make them also agree to give up next year's draft pick. And perhaps to make it unprotected.

That would send a huge signal to McGrady that they are committed to staying out of the lottery. And it could end up being a huge boon for the Wizards.

Possibilities abound.

Clickhereto see a list of players that have worked out for the Wizards so far.


Steve Wyche ofThe Washington Post writes: According to Grunfeld, the Wizards are not locked in on Childress. Also under consideration are Igoudala, Smith, prep guard Shaun Livingston, Connecticut guard Ben Gordon, Wisconsin guard Devin Harris, Duke swingman Luol Deng and center/forward Andris Biedrins (Latvia).

Mike McGraw ofThe Chicago Daily Herald writes:Harrington would be a nice addition to the Bulls. But if Indiana wants a high draft pick in return, Washington could provide some competition.The Wizards have the No. 5 pick and can offer Christian Laettner to even out salaries. Laettner ($6.2 million) is in the final year of his contract. The Bulls' preferred throw-ins, Eddie Robinson and Jerome Williams, have similar salaries. But Robinson has two years left on his deal and Williams has four.

The Associated Presswrites on FoxSports.com: Felipe Lopez on Sunday said he hopes his knee holds out so he can play on the Dominican team at the Centrobasket tournament next month, and then make an NBA comeback next season... Lopez, a 29-year-old guard, is recovering from a knee surgery. He played in last year's preseason with the Minnesota Timberwolves and is now a free agent. In 1998, the San Antonio Spurs drafted Lopez as the 24th pick in the first round, but he was immediately traded to the Vancouver Grizzlies. He was traded to the Washington Wizards in 2000 and signed as a free agent the following year with the Timberwolves.

Dan Daly ofThe Washington Timeswrites: Strange but true: The Wizards sent out a "postseason guide" to the local media. (Postseason? What postseason?)"But here's the best part," a source says. "You open to the first page, and not only is it upside down, it's page 151. They put the covers on backwards. It's so Wizards."