By Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 13, 2010; 5:34 PM
The Washington Wizards and Dallas Mavericks have agreed in principle to a trade of Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson for Josh Howard, Drew Gooden and other ancillary pieces, according to multiple league sources.
The teams have not yet submitted a trade proposal to the NBA league office for approval. The deal should be finalized by Monday, with the Wizards also getting back James Singleton and Quinton Ross, according to sources.
The trade dramatically changes the look of the Wizards (17-33). Butler made two all-star appearances in his five seasons in Washington, Haywood was the longest-tenured Wizard and final link to the Michael Jordan era and Stevenson was a starter on two playoff teams. But a person with knowledge of team's thinking said on Saturday that there could be more changes on the way before the Thursday trade deadline.
"It's time to go in another direction," said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the trade is still being worked out. "This wasn't working."
President Ernie Grunfeld declined comment when reached Saturday, but he hinted earlier in the week that the Wizards would explore making changes before Thursday's trade deadline. He expressed his disappointment that the Wizards rank next-to-last in the Eastern Conference despite a $79-million payroll, a roster that boasted three all-stars in Butler, Antawn Jamison and Gilbert Arenas and a successful coach in Flip Saunders. "I think on paper, this team looked good," Grunfeld said. "It just hasn't won as much as we would've all liked it to."
The Wizards grossly underachieved this season, and have been rumored for a makeover in the aftermath of season-ending suspensions for Arenas and Javaris Crittenton, who brought guns to the locker room at Verizon Center in a dispute last December.
They surrendered Butler, Haywood and Stevenson in what essentially is a salary dump that provides almost $15 million in cap relief for the 2010-11 season. Ross is the only player the Wizards receive who is signed through next season. The deal would also provide nearly $2.6 million in luxury tax relief this season for the Wizards, who will ship out $19.7 million in salaries while getting back $17.3 million. Coupled with the savings that the Wizards will already receive for suspensions to Arenas and Crittenton, the luxury tax penalty could be reduced by nearly $7 million.