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News » Wizards deal Daniels, add more scoring

Wizards deal Daniels, add more scoring

Wizards deal Daniels, add more scoring
Seeking to address a scoring deficiency in the backcourt, the Washington Wizards finalized a three-team trade Wednesday to bring seventh-year point guard Mike James and second-year combo guard Javaris Crittenton to the District.

The Wizards shipped 12th-year point guard Antonio Daniels to the New Orleans Hornets in exchange for James. And in return for Crittenton, Memphis got back the conditional first-round draft pick it gave to Washington as part of last year's Juan Carlos Navarro trade. To complete the deal, the Grizzlies agreed to send a conditional second-round pick to New Orleans.

To make room on the roster, the Wizards released second-year point guard Dee Brown, who had signed only a partially guaranteed deal this past summer.

"We think this is going to upgrade our backcourt with a solid veteran in Mike James and a very talented young player in Javaris, who we're very familiar with," team president Ernie Grunfeld said. "[Crittenton] has been in the league two years. He's got very good size in the backcourt and can play both positions. And Mike obviously has been a good scorer in this league and a solid veteran. We feel like they're going to come in and fit in very well with what we're trying to do and give us some additional punch in our backcourt."

Because Daniels and James earn roughly the same amount - both having two seasons and a little more than $12 million left on their deals - and by dropping Brown's contract for Crittenton's $1.38 million salary this season, the Wizards managed to remain under the NBA luxury tax threshold of just over $71 million.

The Wizards have needed additional punch from their guards with Gilbert Arenas still rehabilitating from arthroscopic knee surgery in September. During a 4-15 start to the season, Washington's guards have combined for just 32.8 points a game. (For perspective, Arenas averaged close to 30 in his last two healthy seasons: 29.3 in 2005-06 and 28.4 in 2006-07). Shooting guard DeShawn Stevenson (8.0 ppg) and Daniels (5.1) rank 80th and 100th, respectively, in scoring among starting guards this season.

Only second-year reserve Nick Young has produced at the position, scoring 11.3 off the bench. Brown and Juan Dixon, who have shared starting point guard duties with Daniels, have averaged 6.0 and 2.4 points, respectively.

"We needed help at the point guard spot," Stevenson said. "It sucks that [Daniels] had to go, and especially Dee Brown. He was a real good guy, so I'm real sad about that.

"First it goes to the coach, and then if it doesn't get on track, then it goes to the players," Stevenson added. "This is the business of the NBA. We get paid a lot of money and things happen. [Daniels] will be all right. He's a good veteran, plays real hard. He'll be all right."

Center Brendan Haywood - who's recovering from wrist surgery that is expected to keep him out for up to six months - said all the parties involved benefited from the trade.

"I don't know much about Crittenton - haven't seen him much. But as far as Mike James, that's a guy that's averaged 20 points at one point in his career," Haywood said. "He can space the floor out and is good at getting to the basket. It's also good for Daniels. At this point in his career, he'd like to be a backup a little bit more on a championship-level team, and he's better in screen-and-rolls, and that's basically all New Orleans runs."

The 33-year-old James, who has averaged 10.6 points and 3.6 assists a game in his career, will play for his ninth team (though he twice has played for Houston). In 2005-06 he averaged career bests in scoring (20.3) and assists (5.8) for Toronto. He also won an NBA championship with the Detroit Pistons in 2003-04.

But James was behind All-Star Chris Paul in New Orleans and then fell out of favor with coach Byron Scott. James averaged 2.5 points and 1.0 assists in 9.3 minutes in eight games but hadn't played in nine of the team's last 10 contests.

Crittenton also had languished on Memphis' bench but boasts great potential. He will play for his third NBA team despite not turning 21 until Dec. 31.

He left Georgia Tech after one season, and the Los Angeles Lakers selected him with the 19th pick in the first round of the 2007 draft - three picks after Washington selected Young out of USC. The Lakers later dealt Crittenton, along with Kwame Brown, Aaron McKie, Marc Gasol and two first-round picks, to the Grizzlies for Pau Gasol and a second round selection.

But he was caught in a logjam of guards, behind last season's No. 4 overall pick Mike Conley Jr., 2006 draft pick Kyle Lowry and rookie O.J. Mayo. In seven appearances this season, Crittenton averaged 2.7 points in a team-low 6.3 minutes a game.

The Wizards like Crittenton's size (6-foot-5, 200 pounds), athleticism, versatility and potential. Grunfeld said had Young not remained on the board in the 2007 Draft, Washington likely would have selected Crittenton at 16th overall.

"He has great size and athleticism and is a very competitive, serious kid," Grunfeld said. "I think with this trade we get someone who can help us immediately with Mike, who is a veteran and a proven NBA player and Javaris can come in and help us, but we'll see how the whole thing unfolds and comes together. They'll have to learn the system and get comfortable playing with their new teammates."

Grunfeld said the trades are no indication that Arenas, who has had three knee surgeries since April 2007, has had another setback. The three-time All-Star remains on schedule with his progress but isn't expected to return to action until after Jan. 1.

Both new players were expected to arrive in the District on Wednesday night and then undergo physicals Thursday morning. The Wizards host the Boston Celtics on Thursday, but the availability of James and Crittenton remains uncertain because Daniels also must pass his physical in New Orleans before the trade can go through. New Orleans doesn't play until Friday night, so it wasn't known when Daniels would report.

Wizards coach Ed Tapscott said Dixon would start at point guard for the Boston game and that once the new pieces were available he and his staff would work to bring them up to speed as soon as possible.

James' transition should prove easier than Crittenton's, however, and he could make more of an immediate impact.

"One of the benefits to Mike James coming is [that] in New Orleans they run some of the same sets that we run, some of the Princeton hybrid," Tapscott said. "So he'll already understand some of our halfcourt sets in particular and be able to come in pretty seamlessly."

BOSTON Celtics at WASHINGTON Wizards

When: 8 p.m.

Where: Verizon Center

TV/radio: TNT, ESPN 980

Probable starters: Celtics - F Paul Pierce, F Kevin Garnett, C Kendrick Perkins, G Ray Allen, G Rajon Rondo. Wizards - F Caron Butler, F Antawn Jamison, C JaVale McGee, G DeShawn Stevenson, G Juan Dixon.

Injuries: Celtics - none reported. Wizards - Out: C Brendan Haywood (wrist), G Gilbert Arenas (knee).

Outlook: The defending champion Celtics storm into Washington boasting a league-best 20-2 record and a 12-game winning streak. They could catch the Wizards short-handed if the trade for Mike James and Javaris Crittenton isn't finalized by game time. But the Wizards fared well last season against Boston despite not having all their parts. Washington went 3-1 against the Celtics and was the only team to win the season series against them.

Trading places

After weeks of talks with both Memphis and New Orleans, the Washington Wizards pulled off a three-player deal expected to address both immediate and future needs in their backcourt.

The Wizards get:

PG Mike James

A seventh-year veteran, the 6-foot-2, 188-pound James owns career averages of 10.6 points and 3.6 assists. In addition to giving Washington a leader as the Wizards continue without the rehabilitating Gilbert Arenas, he adds a legitimate scoring threat to what had become an anemic backcourt with Antonio Daniels (5.1 ppg) and DeShawn Stevenson (8.0 ppg).

PG/SG Javaris Crittenton

In the 6-foot-5, 200-pound Crittenton, the Wizards add a player capable of playing both guard spots. Although he was in a logjam both with the Lakers (who selected him 19th in 2007) and Memphis (who traded for him last season), Crittenton has been on the Wizards' radar for some time. If Nick Young hadn't been available at 16th overall in 2007, Washington would've been happy to take Crittenton.

New Orleans gets:

PG Antonio Daniels

The 12th-year vet, who had spent the majority of his career as a backup before starting in place of Arenas last season, returned to his familiar role this year but struggled offensively. He gives the Hornets a seasoned backup to Chris Paul. Daniels is also familiar with New Orleans' system because Byron Scott runs variations of the Princeton offense Eddie Jordan designed when the two coached together in New Jersey. The Hornets also get a conditional second-round pick from Memphis.

Memphis gets:

Conditional first-round draft pick

Memphis originally gave this pick to Washington in exchange for Juan Carlos Navarro last year. Navarro returned to Spain after last season, and Memphis tried to get the pick back. The Grizzlies acquired Crittenton as part of the deal that sent Pau Gasol to the Lakers for Kwame Brown. Now they can declutter a deep backcourt.

What it means for the Wizards:

For now, they add scoring potential to a backcourt that ranked among the worst in the league in scoring with 32.8 points a game. It also gives them a young player that can contribute in the future in Crittenton. Once Arenas returns - which is expected sometime after Jan. 1 - the team will have a more balanced, versatile bench to help offset him and fellow All-Stars Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: December 11, 2008


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