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Is There Some Sense in the Wizards Nonsensical Jordan Crawford Trade?


The Wizards decision to trade Jordan Crawford for Leandro Barbosa and Jason Collins is yet another in the long list of bad deals in franchise history. Crawford isn't much good, but at least he's able-bodied. Barbosa is out for the year with a torn ACL; Collins is 34 years old and has been terrible for years. Quite literally, the Wizards have traded Crawford for nothing.

There are three main reasons for teams to make trades.

  1. Acquire players who can help the team immediately on the court.
  2. Acquire assets (draft picks, cap space, young players with potential) that may help the team in the future.
  3. Rid the team of bad players, bad people or bad contracts.

Obviously, this trade has nothing to do with improving the team's performance on the court. Barbosa is sidelined for the rest of the year, and he's on a one-year contract. Collins is healthy, but isn't any good. Like Barbosa, his contract expires at the end of the season. I'd be surprised if either guy dons a Wizards uniform.

The second option is out as well. The Wizards could have taken 22-year old center Fab Melo instead of Barbosa and Collins, but Melo is a marginal player who day make a passable backup if he works hard enough.

GM Ernie Grunfeld mentioned "financial flexibility" in his post-trade comments, but this is...umm...BS. Before trading Crawford, the team had $59.6 million in salary committed to 10 players, not counting what they'll pay their first round pick. The salary cap this year is $58.044 million, and is likely to remain close to that next season.

After the Crawford trade, the Wizards will have $57.4 million in salary for next season. Which means they'll still have no meaningful cap space. 

I've heard some argue that the money saved in Crawford's salary can be used to pay Martell Webster. Unless things are a lot tighter at Monumental than anyone has reported, dumping Crawford makes no difference.

Wizards salaries are hovering right around the salary cap. Even adding in the salary for a first round pick, the Wizards would have plenty of space to re-sign Webster and remain under the league's luxury tax threshold. Giving away a low-salary player with at least one more low-cost year on his contract to gain financial flexibility is an absurdity and cannot be taken seriously.

So, we've now ruled out options one and two above, which means we're left with three. Let's unpack that one a bit. Crawford did not have a bad contract, so that one's out. There's room for some debate about his merits as a player. I don't think he's going to be a quality pro, but he played well in stretches, and overall was having the best season of his young career. He still rated solidly below average, and his on/off numbers were horrible, but he was still more productive than his young teammates. Crawford wasn't good, but he wasn't bad either.

Which leaves us with one last option: that Crawford was a bad guy. Or, at least, that his relationship with his co-workers (coaches, players, training staff, front office) had become so untenable that the only solution was to get him off the roster at any cost.

While this last option may be true, it still doesn't absolve the Wizards of making a bad trade -- and this was a bad trade. The team managed to take a 24-year old on a bargain-basement rookie contract who was having the best season of his career and trade him for absolutely nothing.

It's almost unbelievable.