So the trade rumors are no longer rumors, and the Wizards pulled the trigger (no pun intended) on a blockbuster trade over the weekend.
Let's break down this trade.
Money saved, check.
Breaking up the big 3, check.
Getting better players, nope.
This trade was all about saving money. Josh Howard's contract has a team option for next year. That means the Wizards could decline the $11 million salary and Howard would become a free agent next season. Howard was an All-Star in 2007, but this year he was having his worst season in his NBA career since his rookie year. The former Wake Forest first round draft pick averaged just 12 points per game this season.
And, most puzzling, during a tumultuous season where Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton have been suspended for the season because of gun play, the Wizards traded for a guy with a checkered past.
Two years ago before a playoff game, Howard admitted smoking marijuana during the offseason. During a radio interview he said, "I think that everybody in the media world and in the sports world knows that NBA players do smoke marijuana."
After the interview gained national attention, Howard released an apology on his Web site: "I recently talked about a controversial topic with members of the media. I used poor judgment and I want to apologize to my fans, the Mavericks and the NBA. I am fortunate to be playing basketball in the League. I realize I have a responsibility as a role model for young fans, and I take that responsibility seriously."
The last thing the Wizards need right now are problem players. If Howard wants the Wizards to pick up the team option, he had better be on his best behavior.
Losing Caron Butler, a good character guy and a great team guy, will be tough on the whole city. Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who rarely comments on trades, said "you're going to love Caron. He's tough as nails."
Bryant and Butler played together on the Lakers and remain good friends. Butler averaged only 16 points this season. Last night NBC4's Lindsay Czarniak talked to Butler on the phone. He said it's hard to leave Washington, but it's a business.
"I had a great time, we left it all out there on the court, very thankful to the city, organization, and I will truly miss this city," Butler said.
Don't forget about Brendan Haywood in this deal. Haywood was playing some of the best ball in his career. He was the longest tenured Wizards player and now he'll give the Mavericks big help in the low post. Haywood will start in place of an injured Erick Dampier and will be a key figure if the Mavs can go far in the playoffs and beat the Lakers.
Haywood, Butler and Stevenson go from playing on a 17-33 team to a division-leading team with a 32-20 record.
I don't feel sorry for those guys, but I feel sorry for Antawn Jamison, who is left playing on a team with no bright future.
The Wizards could still trade Jamison before Thursday's deadline. The possibilities include Jamison to Cleveland or part of a three-team trade involving the Phoenix Suns. No matter what happens, the Wizards season ends in 32 games and the only question will be which lottery pick will the team get in the NBA Draft.