For Wizards, All's Quiet at Trade Deadline
Friday, February 20, 2009; Page E04
The NBA trade deadline came and went yesterday afternoon without the Washington Wizards making a move.
Numerous rumors linked the Wizards to several possible trades, but ultimately President Ernie Grunfeld didn't find a deal to his liking or couldn't make one work, so the Wizards (12-42) will go into tonight's game at New Jersey with the same roster.
The lack of activity was not a major surprise given Grunfeld's reluctance to part with his two most sought-after players: forwards Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler.
Also, the fact that many teams were looking to shed players while precious few wanted to take on anything other than expiring contracts led to far fewer deals consummated than rumored throughout the league.
The only Wizard coming off the books after this season is veteran guard Juan Dixon, and he makes a relatively paltry $998,000.
"We were having a number of conversations and usually those conversations go right down to the deadline," Grunfeld said. "There were a couple of things we thought might happen, but nothing came to fruition that we thought was going to help us."
According to multiple sources, Grunfeld has been open to trading Etan Thomas, but the veteran center, who is out with a torn left knee ligament, is owed $7.35 million next season and his contract has a prohibitive trade kicker.
The Cleveland Cavaliers expressed interest in Butler and Jamison at different points, and the Portland Trail Blazers also inquired about a possible Butler deal, but Grunfeld never seriously considered trading either player, according to team and league sources.
According to several sources, the Wizards and Bulls discussed a deal that would have sent Thomas and guard Mike James to Chicago for former Wizard Larry Hughes, but the Bulls ultimately were not interested and instead traded Hughes to the New York Knicks for Tim Thomas, Jerome James and Anthony Roberson.
One benefit for the Bulls is that the team could get back as much as $9 million in insurance for Jerome James, who is out for the season with a ruptured Achilles' tendon and has played only four games since the 2006-07 season.
A deal for Hughes would not have provided the Wizards with any immediate payroll relief because Hughes will earn $13.6 million next season, but it would have opened a roster spot and brought Hughes back to the city where he enjoyed his best season as a pro.
In 2004-05, while helping the Wizards reach the second round of the playoffs, Hughes averaged 22 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.7 assists and a league-high 2.9 steals.