Swap Meet

The Wizards have finally offloaded Kwame Brown. He’s going to LA to play for the Lakers. In return, the Wizards will get Caron Butler and a player to be named later, most likely to be either Chucky Atkins or Devean George. The “Curse O’ Les Boulez” watch will officially begin next Friday when the trade will be made official at the league offices.

The Laker trade was first mentioned by David Aldridge and talked up significantly on Sportstalk 980. The last serious trade offer was rumored to involve Memphis’ Lorenzen Wright and two draft picks. Wright plays the same position and has similar numbers, but does not have much potential to improve the way Brown could. Personally, I was hoping that we could get our hands on Drew Gooden, who Cleveland was shopping around.

I think it’s great that we’ve got rid of a guy who was never going to flourish here, and in return we’re getting a guy who is extremely underrated. Butler can more than fill in for Larry Hughes. Butler averaged 15 points a game while having to share the ball with Kobe Bryant. He may not replace all of Larry Hughes’ 22 points per game, but here’s saying that he’ll at least meet us halfway.

You may wonder if he’s a defensive liability. Well, I checked up on Larry’s stats and his only real defensive contribution was in the steals department, which before last season, he never averaged more than 1.9 a game. I expect the law of averages to kick in, against which getting Butler will be a more than adequate replacement. And Butler shoots a better percentage from 3-point land, even if it’s only a nominal improvement over Hughes.

Then there is the other player to be named. If we get George, that gives us a small forward contingent of Hayes, Jeffries and George, although the logjam is somewhat alieviated by Hayes playing backup to Butler at the off-guard. If we get Atkins, as ESPN seems to believe, then we have a back-up to Arenas. In fact, with his experience he’s an immediate upgrade over Steve Blake.

I think this is a good trade, even though it violates the two maxims of trading players, never trade big for small, never trade young for old. This trade isn’t a full violation as Butler is only two years older than Brown. Additionally, we’re getting more production out of Butler than we would have out of Brown, so the point will be moot as soon we sign a power forward, like Donyell Marshall to back up Jamison.

I like to think of it as trading a small center for a big guard. Small centers are a dime a dozen, big guards are harder to come by in this league, at least ones that will score, rebound and play defense.

Meanwhile, the end of Kwame Brown experiment is huge sigh of relief in Washington, where the pressure on the boy was rather intense. I hope that wherever he goes he can finally be happy, because there was no way he was going to be able to do that here in DC. I only hope playing next to Kobe Bryant won’t be a flashback to another egomaniacal big guard from his past. Only this one has been proven to be more manipulative.

The other player to be added in makes all the difference in the world to Terps fans. If we get Atkins, then expect Blake to sign elsewhere. If we get George, and it pushes Hayes to play behind Butler, then expect Dixon to leave and Blake to stay. The only way I see both of them coming back is for one of them to accept playing third on the depth chart.

On the other hand, the Front Office has been busy. In the past two days, they have held meetings with power forward Donyell Marshall, guards Ron Murray and Antonio Daniels. An upgrade at power forward is a necessity after losing Brown, as long as we bring back fan favorite Michael Ruffin. Courting Murray and Daniels actually indicate that Terp twosome may not be back at all.

In other news, the Nationals traded for Preston Wilson, a Center Fielder who led the majors in RBIs a few years ago. We gave up an injured pitcher and an athletic outfielder who shone in spring training. I liked Davis and hoped he would be more of an everyday player. Essentially this trade was spare parts for a slightly flawed starlet. That’s quite an improvement and ought to give Washington fans hope that they can stay ahead of the Braves.

update: In his first game with the Nats, Wilson has already homered against the Milwaukee Brewers. In fact, I believe it was his first at-bat. Not a bad start, I must say!

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