Wizards trade Vesely for Andre Miller

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Updated: February 20, 2014
NBA: Washington Wizards at Miami Heat

The Washington Wizards finally rid themselves of one of GM Ernie Grunfeld‘s more embarrassing embarrassments by trading forward Jan Vesely, the 6th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, to the Denver Nuggets — who clearly enjoy taking Washington’s big men trash — in exchange for disgruntled uber-veteran point guard Andre Miller. The deal also involves the Philadelphia 76ers, who get a first round pick from the Wizards in exchange for taking the horrible Eric Maynor off Washington’s hands. [I believe the Sixers now have 9 picks in the second round of the 2014 Draft. No kidding.]

Miller’s contract runs out after next season, but he’s only guaranteed $2 million of his $4.652 million in 2015 so the deal actually saves the Wizards a couple hundred thousand of Ted Leonsis‘ dollars. The Wizards now have one roster spot vacant.

Miller, who turns 38 in March, hasn’t played since January 2 after he had a heated disagreement with head coach Brian Shaw. The Nuggets sent Miller away from the team and he hasn’t been on an NBA court since. Despite that, Miller does not have a reputation for being a coach-killer or a malcontent. He was very unhappy with his role and playing time in Denver and apparently allowed his emotions to get out of hand.

So is this a good deal for the Wizards? Sure. Vesely, 23, is a terrific run-and-jump athlete with no other discernible basketball skills. He can’t hit a shot unless it is a dunk and half the shots he does take are dunks, so his shooting percentage of just over 50% isn’t a real shock. His .267 free throw shooting percentage, on the other hand, is an offense to all five senses. [That's right, it tastes bad, too.] He has some defensive and rebounding instincts, but he’s so skinny and frail that he generally cannot take advantage of it. He’s been a DNP-CD in five of Washington’s last ten games and has played in only 33 contests all season, usually getting garbage minutes when he gets any at all.

Although Vesely will never match Kwame Brown in terms of all time bust status — Brown was a first overall pick and Vesely was sixth overall — he’s definitely one of the most horrific personnel blunders in team history. [And long-time Wizards fans know that's no small feat.] The Wizards declined to pick up Vesely’s option in 2015, making him a free agent at the end of this season. In other words, the Wizards didn’t want Vesely back anyway.

I’m not sure why anyone would want Vesely on their team. Although he’s an athletic 23-year-old, there does not seem to be much of an upside with the kid. His basketball skills have, if anything, regressed since he entered the NBA. That seems hard to believe since his basketball skill have always, as far as I can tell, been close to nil. In my opinion, no team in its right mind would pay Vesely more than the veteran minimum contract. Basically, the kid would be doing himself a favor if he quit the NBA and returned to Europe to play hoops there. Maybe he can make something of himself in Europe. In America he’s just another big guy who can’t ball, but got an NBA contract because he’s tall and can run.

Miller fills a need for the Wizards — backup point guard. Washington unwisely let Shelvin Mack go and he’s become one of the better point guards in the NBA. They’ve tried to replace him with AJ Price — who didn’t work — and Eric Maynor — who REALLY didn’t work. Now, Maynor and his $2.1 million contract for this year and player option for next year will go to Philly. The Wizards could have avoided all this if they’d just been patient with Mack, whom they drafted in the second round, but they weren’t so all this becomes necessary.

Washington is trying to make the playoffs this season — Grunfeld is desperate to do this and thus save his job — and Miller should help ensure that happens in the embarrassingly weak Eastern Conference. [The Wizards are 26-28, 2.5 games out of the fourth seed.] Miller is a very experienced ball-handler who can hit a shot if he’s left open and will usually make good decisions with the ball. He’s slow and will slow the game down when he’s on the floor, but if the Wizards can adjust to that he should be a sizable upgrade over Garrett Temple and Maynor. Miller was putting up a career-low 5.9 points, 3.3 assists, 2.4 rebounds in just 19.0 minutes per game with the Nuggets, but his career averages are 13.6 points, 7.0 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game. He’s a declining player, obviously, and hasn’t got much time left, but he should be big upgrade for the Wizards, assuming he’s in good shape.