The Washington Wizards are walking, stinking proof that the Yankees/Red Sox Strategy — spend more money, get more wins — doesn’t always work. Having re-signed Antawn Jamison and Gilbert Arenas to $160 million worth of contract last summer, the Wizards will spend this summer working out Lottery picks, as they’ll finish with the East’s worst record (18-61 as of today) and have a good shot at the No. 1 overall pick.
Caron Butler isn’t standing for a repeat. Talking to the Washington Post, Caron says he’s going to be a beast in the gym this offseason, and he expects Arenas, Jamison and the rest of his teammates to follow suit:
Butler also said he will focus on strengthening his body and becoming more durable after missing at least 15 games for the third consecutive season. He plans to train with (LeBron) James and former teammates Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant this summer.
“I know, personally, I will be in the best shape of my life, the best condition of my life,” Butler said. “Physically, mentally, I will be better than ever. I will have the best year of my career next year. I’m putting that on paper. I will have the best year of my career, on the court and off the court. I will be seriously ready.
“I think everybody is going to be hungry like that this summer,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of time to [play around]. This is our moment.”
Butler goes on to compare his team to the pre-Big Three Celtics, hoping to go from Lottery to championship given the additions of a healthy Arenas and Brendan Haywood. And just like Paul Pierce told the C’s going into the ’07 Draft, he’s more interested in using that Lottery pick to help bring in a vet (i.e. Boston using it’s No. 5 pick to get Ray Allen) rather than taking a college kid.
Butler said he is “not playing for no lottery pick” but he believes that Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin, the favorite to go No. 1 in the NBA draft, is the only player from the college ranks who can help the Wizards right away. “We’re going to be left with a lot of decisions for the GM, because you have the options. Do you trade a pick? Do you package a player with a pick, all those types of things, and get a quality player? If you look at our window for opportunity, we have a four-year window right now. Guys are not getting no younger. Antawn is 32, I’m 29, Gilbert is 27. DeShawn [Stevenson] is 28. Brendan is approaching 30. The core guys are in the prime of their careers. Right now, we don’t have time to have another developing year.”
“That’s where I stand,” Butler said. “If it’s not Blake Griffin or somebody that can make an immediate impact, then I would prefer having a veteran come in to help us. The time is now.”
How good can the Wizards be next year if everyone’s healthy and they have a No. 1 or No. 2 pick at their disposal?