Friday: End of the Jordan Crawford Era

Mark Murphy/ Celtics Notebook

Mark Murphy/ Celtics Notebook

Big day in D.C. sports yesterday, but we’ll start off with the most controversial bit of news: the Wizards dumping Jordan Crawford for a six-pack of beer, some used basketballs and a deck of cards. Ok, that’s not accurate. The Wizards got LESS than that for Crawford: they got Leandro Barbosa, who will never play in a Wizards uniform, as he currently does not have a functioning ACL or MCL in one of his knees (if you think I’m looking up which knee Barbosa tore, you have come to the WRONG blog) and Jason Collins, a journeyman backup center who presumably provides a good locker-room presence.

My initial reaction was bad deal for the Wiz. The plus side is $2.2 million in savings next year for the Wizards, a fairly pedestrian number by anyone’s standards. But how is that all the Wizards are going to get for a guy who is averaging over 13 points per game on the season? Oh wait, because he’s a gunner who can’t defend anyone to save his life. He’s a malcontent trapped on the bench of a bad team. And everyone in the league knows how desperate the Wizards were to get rid of him.

Upon making this revelation, I was ok with this trade. Crawford forced the Wizards hand on this one. Instead of behaving like a rational adult when he was benched, and going back in the gym and looking at what he can improve, Crawford threw a temper-tantrum. Look at Chris Singleton: he started a majority of the games for the Wizards last year. This year, he  got benched for a prolonged period of time (longer than Crawford’s most recent benching). He took it to heart, worked on his game and has now worked his way back into the rotation.

Crawford, on the other hand, had a great month of December. Then he had a couple of bad games and found himself in the doghouse. Unfair? Maybe. But that doesn’t excuse him behaving like a petulant four-year-old who didn’t get the toy he wanted for Christmas (albeit a four-year-old who is QUITE passive-aggressive).

So I’m ok with getting rid of a malcontent for nothing. Addition by subtraction. Besides, it’s not the Wizards could have gotten Fab Melo in the trade, right? Right?! Wait, what’s that? We COULD have gotten Fab Melo?!

You’re right Ernie, we probably don’t have enough D-League spots available to take back a first-round pick and stash him while he develops. I mean, who wants a 7-foot, shot-blocking presence anyways? Melo might not be the answer in the middle long-term, but you don’t think he could have developed into a quality backup center, who played 20 minutes a game and wreaked havoc at the defensive end? Nah, let’s take the bag of bones instead! Besides, it’s just unconscionable to pay a guy a salary who doesn’t play for you at all right?

I hesitate to say this because it’s a borderline ad hominem attack, but this feels like a move that was made because this franchise is cheap. I mean, what are the Wizards really going to do with $2.2 million in saved cap space? And it’s not like Melo had a gigantic contract. You’re telling me we couldn’t take back $1.3 million next year for a project big man? Did that break the budget?

A lot of sites are skewering the Wizards, and I think it’s only partially deserved. This team had to get rid of Crawford’s toxic presence, but expecting another team to suddenly give up riches for the Wizards’ garbage was unrealistic. That being said, Melo would have been about as good of an asset as you could have hoped for. And Ernie said No.

I’m giving this trade a C. Ultimately, it’s a nothing trade. The Wizards won’t miss Crawford, but they get ABSOLUTELY NOTHING back. The reason the grade drops so low is this trade represents yet another missed opportunity for the Wiz.

Other takes on the trade:

The first game of the Jason Collins era is tonight against the Nuggets, 7 PM ET/ 6 PM CT

Capitals: The Caps played one period that resembled “Caps Hockey,” but otherwise were the same ‘ole Caps from this year, taking terrible penalty after terrible penalty. It caught up with them in the third period as they gave up two goals and lost 3-2 to the Devils.

At this point, what more can you say other than that the Capitals CANNOT keep taking this many penalties? It’s a broken record, but it’s something the Caps have to fix before they can make any kind of dent in the standings.

The Caps had bad first and third periods, stymied by the Devils’ neutral defense, resulting in a litany of Caps turnovers and no sustained zone pressure.

Some positive take-aways: Alex Ovechkin was buzzing around the ice all night, laying the lumber, creating opportunities and forcing the Devils to take penalties. It didn’t pay off on the score sheet, but otherwise this was a vintage Ovechkin game.

Braden Holtby had another strong game, and was one of the reasons that this team was able to keep it close. John Carlson had a strong defensive game and is starting to look more like the John Carlson we expected to see this season. The power play unit is still humming and getting great puck movement and opportunities, and they tallied twice more last night. So there’s that.

Recaps:

Standings Update: Caps are DFL in the NHL.

Nationals: On a brighter note, the Nats have a GM who is actually competent and it’s just a pleasure. The Nats inked Chris Young to a minor-league deal yesterday, making a great depth signing. The Nats had historic good fortune last year, with almost all of their starters staying healthy the entire season. To expect that again this season is probably unrealistic, although obviously they are independent events. In any case, having a guy like Young, who can eat-up innings and allows guys like Zach Duke, Craig Stammen and Christian Garcia to stay in their existing roles, could prove to be invaluable. A shrewd move by Mike Rizzo.

Also, if you’re interested, here is the pitching lineup for the team’s Grapefruit League opener Saturday.

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