The Wizards were nothing if not consistently inconsistent during the 2013-14 regular season. Ultimately, the goal of making the postseason for the first time since 2008 came true, but the path was a bumpy one. There were the growing pains from a youthful backcourt and a sidelined Brazilian big man, not to mention the grind of an 82-game campaign. There was also often maddening play off the bench, until there wasn't or at least less so.
The improvement came with personnel changes. Those tweaks, at least in a small way, would direct the Wizards to ship away their lone second round pick.
First, let's go back to the trading deadline. Trevor Booker, Jan Vesely and Kevin Seraphin, all still on their rookie contracts, were the primary interior reserves. Free agent flop Eric Maynor went from point guard John Wall's primary backup to a permanent towel waver. Garrett Temple took over for Maynor and provided a steady effort, but lacks the playmaking skills to run an offense.
All showed flashes, some more than others, but coach Randy Wittman never knew from game to game what these reserves would deliver. The inconsistent player rotations showed as much.
Then the Wizards traded Vesely and Maynor for Andre Miller, one of the league's all-time crafty point guards and it turned out still a viable threat even at 38. Then the Wizards signed free agent Drew Gooden, who went from hanging out in Rockville to stepping in and up when Nene missed several weeks with a knee injury. Then Al Harrington returned from his own knee ailment, providing Wittman another veteran option.
The Wizards sported a 26-28 record when they added Miller. After acquiring him from the Nuggets on Feb. 20, Washington finished the regular season 18-10; defeated the Chicago Bulls 4-1 in the opening round of the postseason and then battled the Indiana Pacers for six games. Wall and Bradley Beal remained the headliners, but more experience around them helped limit any stretches of woe.
The Wizards sold the No. 46 pick in the 2014 draft to the Los Angeles Lakers for cash considerations. Grunfeld stated the primary reason for the move being their targeted players were no longer on the board. As Grunfeld fielded media questions later in the evening, I asked if there was a specific position need he wanted to address.
"We weren't looking for any specific position," he said. "We were looking for the best available players, someone who could fit into our system. We had a lot of young players on the team last year and once we started adding some veterans to it and getting some nice balance, that really started to help us. This (trade) will open up another roster spot to get someone in there who is probably more established than a second round rookie would be."
Grunfeld also stated, "We like our young core. The rookies, the developmental players are still going to be Otto [Porter] and Glen [Rice Jr.]for us. We really want to focus on that and get some players in here as free agents and see where we go with that."
Porter and Rice, players the organization remain confident in yet need additional seasoning, received scant minutes as rookies. Most likely, any second rounder would fall into the same category this season., but with youth comes potential.
For now, the Wizards passed on adding a kid - long shot undrafted rookies will join Washington for the NBA Summer League - with the hopes that an experienced hand or two can join the mix in free agency or via a trade. In some part, this plan worked last season. The hope is more of the same.