- The Washington Times - Friday, March 16, 2012

The Washington Wizards reshaped their roster on Thursday by shipping out Nick Young, JaVale McGee and Ronny Turiaf and acquiring Nene, Brian Cook and a 2015 second-round pick.

The signature acquisition in the trade, Nene, 29, is an experienced veteran, but team president Ernie Grunfeld cautioned that the move does not signal the team is abandoning the plan to build through the draft and develop its young players.

“When [Nene] became available, it was something that we felt was important for us,” Grunfeld said via phone late Thursday. “He’s a very solid player, a veteran guy who’s been very consistent. He’s a fierce competitor, a good all-around player, and I think he’s going to add a lot of stability to our front court.”

The 6-foot-11 center does come with a few caution flags. Nene has had a torn ACL, a torn meniscus and a sprained MCL during his 10-year career. League analysts are also questioning why Denver traded a player they signed to a five-year, $67 million deal just one season ago.

But Grunfeld sounded unconcerned, saying the team has filled an important need at an important time.

“The hardest positions to fill are a point guard and a solid big man, and a versatile, solid big man,” Grunfeld said. “We now have those positions filled with Nene and with John [Wall] at the point.

“[Nene’s] shown over an eight-, nine-year period that he’s been very consistent, he’s been in winning situations, he’s a good passer and, above all, he’s a team player.”

Grunfeld said Nene will join the team “shortly.” Players have 48 hours following a trade to report to their new teams and take their physicals.

In saying goodbye to Young and McGee, the Wizards are trading youth for experience, but are also turning the page on two talented but often frustratingly immature players.

“JaVale and Nick are very good people, and we wish them nothing but the best,” Grunfeld said. “But in order to get a good player, you have to give up something, and we felt like we were getting a player that fits in well with what we’re trying to do.”

Nene’s skill set in the post is expected to be a much better fit with Wall than McGee‘s, and, Grunfeld reminded, the team still has plenty of youth to spare.

The Wizards still have seven players on the team who are in their first or second year. With the team set to make yet another appearance in the lottery, more youth will be added at this year’s draft.

“We still have a very young team, but at the same time, you also need some players that have been through major battles, who have been in winning situations and are team players who are committed to winning,” Grunfeld said.

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