In a deal that was agreed upon near the 3 p.m. trading deadline, the Wizards shipped McGee and veteran big man Ronny Turiaf to the Nuggets and Young to the Clippers. In return, they received rugged, veteran center Nene from Denver and forward Brian Cook and a future second-round pick from the Clippers.
“I think it’s a combination of things,” Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld said, explaining the motivation for the deal. “We want to have guys that are competitive, that care about winning and losing. It has nothing to do personally with the two players. It has more to do with getting a player that does come from a winning situation and is competitive and is a good defender and a good passer and a good all-around player” in Nene.
McGee and Young were two of the longest-tenured players on the Wizards’ roster. McGee, a fourth-year center, will be a restricted free agent, meaning the Wizards would have been able to match any offer sheet. But the 7-foot-1 big man was expected to garner a huge salary on the open market. Though McGee was one of just five players in the NBA averaging at least 11.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and two blocked shots, the Wizards were unwilling to make a large financial commitment to a player who continued to make confounding plays on the court and who struggled with defensive concepts.
Instead, the Wizards acquired an established big man in Nene, a Brazilian who is averaging 13.4 points and 7.4 rebounds in his 10th season, all in Denver. Nene, 29, put up all-star worthy numbers last season and was one of the most coveted players in free agency. He signed a five-year, $67 million contract with the Nuggets last December and also is represented by Dan Fegan, the same agent for John Wall.
“Any time you go into free agency, it’s always a crap shoot,” Grunfeld said. “You don’t know what the offers will be and you don’t know how much it will cost. This way, you get cost certainty and we get a player that has produced consistently in this league for many, many years and who is only 29 years old.
“We’re still rebuilding,” he continued. “We have seven players on the roster, in the rotation, who are first- or second-year players. We felt like we needed someone who had more experience who could come in there and play, and someone who is under contract for the next few years and be with us.”
After leading the Wizards in scoring last season, Young sought a contract worth a $9 million annual salary in free agency, but after failing to find a favorable market, he settled for a qualifying offer worth $3.7 million. Young had the right to veto any deals because he would have to sacrifice his “Bird rights” — a clause that allows teams to go over the salary cap to re-sign players — to get traded.