- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 25, 2009

HereI thought Kevin McHale no longer was with the Timberwolves.

Or perhaps David Kahn was channeling McHale’s ghost.

Is the fifth pick really that appealing? Or is Kahn merely a sucker for a sweet-sounding sonnet as penned by the Poet?

This qualifies as a heist, although not in the Caron Butler-Kwame Brown spirit [-] at least not yet. Butler was not a two-time All-Star at the time of the trade. Randy Foye is not done developing, no more than Butler was.

Ernie Grunfeld stands guilty of picking on a cripple. Or he came into some incriminating information or pictures that prompted Kahn to take the fifth pick, an accounting error, a 6-footer trapped in the body of a 7-footer and a pair of cement shoes.

The Wizards received two shooters, Foye and Mike Miller, as compensation. Grunfeld probably could have fleeced Kevin Love from Kahn as well if not for his need to have other general managers accept his calls.

Grunfeld still has Andray Blatche and Nick Young to peddle as lead offerings. They could fetch an upgrade in the frontcourt. If not, their parting could qualify as addition by subtraction.

Blatche has been allowed to hide behind his birth certificate, while Young has been hiding behind his blinders. They are left to hide in plain sight, and not usually a pretty sight.

Grunfeld landed two skilled players who are able to help right away. That would not have been the case with the No. 5 pick in the draft.

Foye averaged 16.3 points in his third season in the NBA, while Miller averaged a career-high 18.5 points in the 2007 season.

The dark mood enveloping the Wizards may not have dissipated with a lopsided trade. But it lightens the summertime air. It also confirms that Grunfeld is sticking to the master plan of Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison and Butler as the team’s foundation unless someone becomes stupid.

And as you can see, you never say never to the possibility of stupid.

Let’s imagine a starting lineup of Arenas and Foye in the backcourt and Butler, Jamison and Brendan Haywood in the frontcourt and a bench of Miller, DeShawn Stevenson, Javaris Crittenton, Javale McGee and Dominic McGuire.

That hints of a potentially high-scoring outfit, perhaps better equipped than the team that was atop the Eastern Conference going into the All-Star break in 2007. This assumes Arenas will not be his old self next season but healthy enough to be a significant contributor.

The Wizards are not necessarily ready to contend with the Magic and Cavaliers, or even the Celtics, depending on how the rest of the offseason unfolds. But they can see themselves fitting among the second tier of playoff teams.

Foye and Miller certainly fill the perimeter-shooting void that was created by the departure of Roger Mason last offseason. That void was exacerbated by an incapacitated Arenas and a brick-heaving Stevenson.

It is not clear if Foye or Miller is willing to assume the Poet’s role as Haywood’s sparring mate.

When the minutes got tough, the tough took to throwing haymakers. The Poet-Haywood pugilistic showdowns came to merit Roman numerals, three in all. A fourth would have been in the offing if the Poet had not missed the 2008 season and Haywood most of last season.

Otherwise, Foye and Miller qualify as a significant upgrade. Of course, none of Grunfeld’s tinkering will reach its full effect unless Arenas returns in at least grade-B form. That is the uncertainty that goes with this offseason.

Grunfeld is functioning with the expectation that Arenas is finally going to make it back in some competent form.

The reports on Arenas are favorable, as expected. The latest is he looks “very, very good” in his workouts, according to an insider with the Wizards.

That is good to hear, even in late June, when a seemingly sucker trade eliminates the need to wait on another project from the draft.

So a thumbs up goes to Grunfeld as he attempts to find another sucker.

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