The Washington Wizards have acquired the 17th overall pick in tonight's NBA Draft and G Kirk Hinrich in exchange for...well, nothing right now. This is a straight salary dump for the Bulls, who will now be about $30 million under the salary cap and are close to being able to pursue not one, but two max free agents -- guys like Lebron James and Chris Bosh. Look for the Bulls to explore another salary dump deal soon.
Hinrich, whom the Bulls have been trying to unload for some time now, has two years remaining on his contract. He will earn $9 million this season and $8 million in 2011-12. The deal cannot be made final until July 8, when the Wizards will officially have enough cap space to take Hinrich in return for nothing. Meanwhile, the Bulls will make the 17th selection for the Wizards tonight.
Reports are that the Wizards will also send $3 million to the Bulls as part of this deal. In other words, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis may have just paid $20 million [Hinrich is owed $17 million over the next two years, remember] for the 17th pick. If true, you have to give it up for Leonsis. He has made it clear he does not intend to spend his way to an NBA championship, but he's not averse to throwing some cash around either -- particularly when doing so doesn't involve paying the luxury tax.
Hinrich joins a Wizards back court that already contains Gilbert Arenas, Nick Young and Quinton Ross. After the first pick is made in tonight's draft, that back court will also feature John Wall as the starting point guard.
Hinrich is a 6'3" combo guard who gives up size to his opponents all the time, but he is an excellent on-ball defender who really makes his man work hard for points and assists. Hinrich is one of the best back court defenders in the NBA, though he fouls a lot due to his lack of size.
Offensively, Hinrich can be a good outside shooter with definite 3-point range and he rarely takes the ball to the hole anymore. The problem is his outside shot isn't what it used to be and his TS% fell to just over 50% last season. His field goal shooting, free throw shooting, 3-point shooting and scoring average all declined last season, leading to a 11.61 PER.
WHAT I THINK OF THIS
It's certainly possible Hinrich can resurrect his career in Washington and I'm sure the Wiz will give him every chance to do that. However, this definitely looks more like the Wizards using their cap space creatively, employing a "cash for trash" or "bring out your dead" [BOYD] strategy of taking other team's bad contracts in exchange for young prospects and/or draft picks. While most people would want the BOYD strategy to involve taking back only players with 1 year remaining on their contract, that might not be realistic. I can understand not wanting any more multi-year contracts going into a new collective bargaining agreement, but that's a view lots of teams have so making those deals won't be a simple matter. In any case, Hinrich's contract will now be a valuable bargaining chip going into the 2011-12 offseason, when he has only one year remaining and will look good to teams hoping to shed salary.
The deal could still fall apart since it can't be made official until July 8, but it is obviously a lot more likely to happen than to not. It doesn't look like a great trade for the Wizards right now, but we don't know what else is happening tonight. If a really valuable player falls in the draft and the Wizards get him at 17, the deal will look a lot better. If the Wizards are able to use that 17th pick as part of a deal to move up and grab another top player in the lottery, this trade will look a lot better. I don't think this trade can be fairly evaluated until we see what else happens tonight.
Washington now has the 1st pick, the 17th pick and the 30th pick in the first round, as well as the 35th overall selection in tonight's draft. The Wizards might keep all those picks or you may very well see them trading a package of the last 3 picks to another team in order to move up and get a second lottery pick.