Wizards, Mavs Pull A Blockbuster

By Carla Peay, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: February 15, 2010

WASHINGTON (BASN) — In a move that signals the start of a rebuild, the Washington Wizards traded forward Caron Butler, center Brendan Haywood and guard DeShawn Stevenson to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for forwards Josh Howard, Drew Gooden, James Singleton and guard Quinton Ross.

The seven-player deal was finalized on late Saturday night during the NBA All-Star weekend in Dallas.

Butler, who was in his fifth season with the Wizards, made two all star teams, but has struggled this season, and seemed to be an uneasy fit in new head coach Flip Saunders’ offensive system.

Haywood, who was the Wizards longest tenured player, leaves in the midst of a career year, averaging 9.8 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game.

Stevenson leaves the team in the middle of his fourth year, where he has been inconsistent at best, ineffective at worst.

Butler released a statement following the trade: I have had a great four and a half years with the Wizards and will only have the best memories. I just want to thank the organization, the city and most importantly, the fans for embracing me and my family the way they did while we were here.”

“I am looking forward to my new opportunity with the Mavericks and will continue to play with the same desire and intensity that I have had throughout my entire NBA career,” Butler said.

The move is clearly the beginning of a salary dump by the Wizards, who will receive $2.5 million in salary cap relief this season. The team trades salaries worth $19.7 million, and picks up salaries worth $17.3 million.

Of the new players joining the Wizards, all but Ross will become free agents at season’s end.

Howard is a former all star, named to the squad in 2007, and is averaging 12.5 ppg in 31 games played this season.

The well-traveled Gooden is averaging 8.9 ppg this season. The Wizards are Gooden’s eighth NBA team.

The Wizards have been in the news for much of the season, due to the gun charges and season long suspensions of three time all-star guard Gilbert Arenas and guard Javaris Crittenton.

The Wizards were expected to be playoff contenders this year after Arenas, who was finally ready to play after three knee surgeries, was ready to join Butler and Antawn Jamison – the Wizards so-called “Big Three”.

But Jamison missed the first nine games of the season with a shoulder injury, Arenas and Butler appeared to have chemistry issues on the court, and the myth that the team could contend if only their top three players were healthy was exposed as just a myth.

Even before Arenas’ suspension, the team was struggling offensively, remained challenged defensively, and the future of first year coach Saunders was already in question.

At the All-Star break, the team sits at 17-33, the second worst team in the Eastern Conference, kept from the basement only by the woeful 4-48 New Jersey Nets, who are on pace for the worst record in NBA history.

Wizards’ president Ernie Grunfeld is putting a positive spin on the deal in a statement released after the deal. “Our four new players bring versatility and the experience of playing in a winning situation.”

“Josh and Quinton can each play both the shooting guard and small forward positions while providing athleticism and outside shooting. Drew can play both the power forward and center positions and he and James give us an inside presence that combines skill and toughness,” he added.

Grunfeld also took time to praise his former players.

“Caron, Brendan and DeShawn all made significant contributions to this franchise and this community, but we felt this opportunity was too good to pass up. We wish all three players the best and thank them for what they helped us accomplish during their tenures with the Wizards,” Grunfeld said.

While gathered for the NBA showcase event in Dallas, nearly every NBA analyst who was questioned about the trade characterized it as a “steal” for the Mavericks.