"It's especially disappointing considering there was real talent on the board. Missouri point guard Jordan Clarkson went to the Lakers. Louisville's Russ Smith was taken one selection later. Baylor's Cory Jefferson and Florida's Patric Young could have filled in as depth along the frontcourt. Instead, the Wizards gave away another potential cheap player for nothing more than cash, which only appears to benefit the owner."Washington Post:
For the first time since 2009, the Washington Wizards entered the NBA draft without a first-round pick, having shipped it (and a future second) away in the October trade that brought them Marcin Gortat, and to absolve themselves of Eric Maynor and Jan Vesely in the Andre Miller swap.
Ultimately, the Wizards elected to end their season in a manner similar to the way it began, trading No. 46 overall pick Jordan Clarkson, a point guard out of Missouri, to the Los Angeles Lakers for cash considerations. Washington received just less than $2 million in the deal, according to a source with knowledge of the situation, granting them more flexibility on the free agent market, which opens July 1 and is expected to include Gortat, Trevor Ariza and six other Wizards.
“We focused in on two, three players [Jarnell Stokes, Johnny O'Bryant and Dwight Powell] who we thought would be there but were gone by the time it was our turn to pick, and we didn’t want to waste it and just bring someone in that we didn’t think would fit in with what we were trying to do,” Wizards General Manager Ernie Grunfeld said after emerging from the Wizards’ draft war room at Verizon Center late Thursday night. “Nothing really came up for us and we felt like it was best to move the pick for cash considerations, and this way it opens up another roster spot for us to get someone who’s established.”
The last time the Wizards traded their pick for cash was in that 2009 draft, which also marked the last draft that the Wizards did not take a player. That year, the Wizards selected guard Jermaine Taylor out of Central Florida with the 32nd overall pick before shipping him to Houston for $2.5 million.
Prior to Washington trade on Thursday, the Suns used the No. 18 pick acquired from the Wizards in the Gortat trade to select Syracuse point guard Tyler Ennis in the first round.
With the draft behind them, the Wizards’ front office will turn its attention to free agency in hopes of re-signing most, if not all, of the team’s core on the heels of the team’s first playoff appearance in six years and a run to the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Andre Miller is expected to be brought back as the backup point guard under the final year of his contract that’s worth $4.6 million, bringing the Wizards’ 2014-15 payroll of Miller, John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Nene and Martell Webster to about $46 million. With the cap expected to fall around $63 million, the Wizards will have a fair amount of space to go after Gortat and Ariza, who are likely to demand the highest salaries among the team’s free agents.