Vol. VI: Pre-Draft Daggers with Steve Buckhantz
WashingtonWizards.com caught up with Wizards commentator Steve Buckhantz to get his take on current happenings around the NBA
WW.com: Big trade for the Wizards last week, tell us your thoughts on the two newest members of the team, Ariza and Okafor, and your thoughts on the trade itself?
SB: It was clear that Rashard Lewis would not be back with the team, one way or another. Many folks didn't realize he was the second highest paid player in the NBA, after Kobe. This season he was scheduled to make around 23 million dollars but the team could have bought him out for just under 14 million. This way, they pass along his deal and get two players in return. Granted, both have lucrative contracts but I'm told it's still a beneficial swap for Washington. We all hope Ariza and Okafor can make positive contributions, which both players have done in the past. Aside from their documented skills, I believe their greatest asset is veteran leadership. Both are eight year veterans and can help guide some of our young players, so their addition from that standpoint is welcome.
WW.com: With these two acquisitions through trade, do you think the Wizards will still be active in free agency?
SB: The pieces to this puzzle are still being placed, whether that is through trade, draft or free agency. We'll see where the team is with regard to the salary cap, but suffice to say, they are not done with the process. And it's a process that does not end this season, but will continue next year as well as the year after.
WW.com: We’ve chronicled your NBA Playoff predictions throughout the Daggers series and you said from the beginning it would be Miami over OKC. Do you see this being a match-up that we see more of in the NBA finals for the next 5-7 years?
SB: Initially, I picked the Heat to win it all because I felt a team with TWO superstars, plus other very good players would persevere over most any other squad, which proved to be the case. Winning game two in Oklahoma City was ENORMOUS for Miami. With the two-three-two format, the Thunder's goose was cooked at that point, having to play three straight in South Florida. I didn't think they'd be able to handle that environment and as it turned out they folded under pressure, committing far too many mistakes in critical situations. Plus, guys like Harden and Ibaka were overshadowed by guys like Battier and Miller. Miami has a tremendous defense, but it was under publicized. They can be smothering, as we witnessed, and when they decide to play that way for the better part of 48 minutes, no one is going to beat them.
OKC was on the verge of excellence LAST season, and THIS year took one more step towards achieving it. I don't know if they'll duplicate the feat next year..wouldn't surprise me. I fully expect Miami to be a dominant team for many years to come, in much the same way the Lakers were.
WW.com: Were you able to get a look at the post-game attire worn by many of the players in the playoffs? If so, what did you make of some of the outfits and eyewear worn by many of the elite players?
SB: Much of what is worn today puzzles me but to each his own. The glasses without the lenses are a bit odd. I'm guessing in about 15 years they'll be begging for lenses!
WW.com: It’s NBA Draft week, what are your plans for Draft night and as of now, who is your prediction for the #3 pick?
SB: On draft night I'll be at Verizon Center co-hosting the big draft night extravaganza with Wizards radio voice Dave Johnson and look forward to seeing everyone there! As I said previously, it all depends on who Charlotte takes with the second pick (providing they still have the second pick). I'm getting the feeling Washington will take Brad Beal, or perhaps Thomas Robinson, and either player will help the team immensely. But again, we won't know till Thursday night.