The trade that was a rumor is now a reality. The Washington Wizards have traded PG Antonio Daniels and a conditional 1st round pick they got from the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for Spanish guard Juan Carlos Navarro and received combo guards Javaris Crittenton from Memphis and Mike James from the New Orleans Hornets. To make room for the new players, the Wizards waived PG Dee Brown, who did not have a guaranteed contract.
The Bullets shed Daniels' contract, which is worth $6.2 million this year and $6.6 million next year, but they take on Crittenton's contract, which is worth $1.38 million this year and Mike James' deal, which is worth $6 million this season and almost $6.5 million next season. Washington has a press conference scheduled for 1 PM this afternoon.
Here is what I wrote about Crittenton and James earlier today.
Crittenton is a 6'5" point guard who was the 19th overall pick in the 2007 draft. He has played in 57 games during his young career, but the Grizzlies have PG OJ Mayo and PG Kyle Lowry on the roster and they favor those players over Crittenton.
This is what John Hollinger of ESPN thinks of Javaris Crittenton:
2007-08 season: Crittenton was only 19 and didn't really know what he was doing yet, so despite the low PER I took a lot of encouragement from his rookie season. For starters, Crittenton showed NBA athleticism in a few different areas. He ranked sixth among shooting guards in free-throw attempts per field-goal attempt and eighth in rebound rate, and he showed he can create offense -- he actually had the second-highest usage rate on the Grizzlies behind Rudy Gay.
Additionally, Crittenton's biggest negative is really a positive. His turnover ratio was positively awful, ranking 60th out of 63 shooting guards, but young players with high turnover rates tend to progress much further in future seasons than those who do not.
Note that I said "among shooting guards" above. Most of Crittenton's minutes came last year at the 2, and despite his being labeled a point guard coming out of college I think this is almost certainly where his long-term future is. Even as a 2, Crittenton ranked third-worst in pure point rating, and at 6-5 he'll probably have to play the wing for defensive purposes anyway.
Scouting report: A quick guard who handles the ball very well for his size, Crittenton only played one year of college ball and thus has to do quite a bit of on-the-job training in the NBA. He still doesn't always know where to be or where to go and he seriously needs to improve as a shooter -- he was 14-of-51 on long 2s, 10-of-37 on 3s and only 69.2 percent from the free-throw line.
Crittenton is also thin for his size, which might change as his body fills out but could be a liability if, as I suspect, he ends playing most of his career minutes on the wing.
As you can see, Crittenton is not the pure point guard Washington surely wants, but he may be the closest they can come to it right now. If Washington can make this deal for Antonio Daniels and not give up a first round pick, they should do it immediately. Daniels is breaking down and is overpaid at this point anyway. Giving up a first round pick is problematic, though. Washington looks like it will have a pretty high first round pick after this season and so does Memphis. Perhaps the pick can come from a third team, like New Orleans, that won't be selecting anywhere near the lottery.
James is another combo guard who can handle the ball and score. He won the job as Chris Paul's backup in New Orleans, but has fallen out of favor. And no wonder. James was once a promising player, but he lost his shot and doesn't pass anymore. He shot under 35% from the field last year [you read that right] and is shooting 32% from the field so far this season. Here is what John Hollinger thinks of James:
2007-08 season: Talk about a free fall. In 2005-06 James had a player efficiency rating of 19.88; last season it was barely a third of that (8.62). James continued his mighty decline by starting the year as a key reserve for the Rockets and ending it so far down the end of the Hornets' bench that his seat was technically in Mississippi.
Known for his scoring exploits, James shot only 34.8 percent and had the fourth-worst TS% in basketball. Worse yet was his passing, or lack thereof -- his assist ratio was an embarrassing 14.7, ranking far and away the worst among point guards, and his pure point rating was not only dead last but very nearly negative -- normally a near-impossibility for somebody playing the point.
Scouting report: James' sudden slippage is most noticeable at the defensive end, where he's gone from reasonably solid to instantly flammable. He's too small to guard shooting guards effectively, but he can't keep opposing keep point guards in front of him unless they're strapped into a chair. He's 33 and was never an A-list athlete, so perhaps we should have expected this, but the decline still has been jarring.
Offensively, James is nobody's idea of a true point guard, but is capable of freeing himself for high-arcing jump shots that, until last season, have found the net with regularity. He often is used as a shooting guard in small-ball lineups due to his shoot-first tendencies, but that requires a matchup where his defensive deficiencies can be hidden.
2008-09 outlook: Unbelievably, it appears the Hornets will go into this season with James as their primary backup point guard. While it stands to reason that he'll shoot the ball better than a year ago given his track record, it also stands to reason that his rapid decent into mediocrity won't suddenly abate at age 33.
In other words, Mike James blows and is basically just collecting sizable paychecks at this point. Why the Bullets want this guy is beyond me. Unless, of course, Gilbert Arenas is hurt worse than he or the team is letting on and they need more bodies to take his minutes.