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Buying Washington's #1

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At FanHouse, I explain why Washington is dumb to trade its draft pick to keep its veteran core (Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler) in tact. The popular rumor is that the Wizards will attempt to package the pick (unprotected, no doubt) with either Etan Thomas or Mike James in exchange for an expiring contract. Thanks to the extensions for Gilbert Arenas, Jamison, Darius Songaila, DeShawn Stevenson and others, the team is due to pay $7-8 million in luxury tax in 2009-10. The Wizards do not pay the tax. Given the team's record, I don't blame them.

The Kings have some expiring contracts. Bobby Jackson, in particular, could be traded for Thomas or James straight up. (I believe this to be the case; Thomas apparently has a 20% trade kicker. If the kicker is larger than 20%, there would need to be a Bobby Brown or Quincy Douby involved. If the kicker is 20%, Jackson-for-Thomas works.)

Thomas is owed (assuming the 20% kicker) $8.8 million in 2009-10. That's a lot of money for someone who wouldn't likely play well or often. He'd be Kenny Thomas Part II, assuming the King are not able to trade Kenny Thomas Part I this season.

But you'd be getting another top-six pick. Washington is currently 29th in the league, better only than Sacramento. I assume Minnesota has a fighter's chance of getting into the bottom two in the league, which would bump Washington to No. 28 at best. That would guarantee a pick no worse than No. 6.

Shareef Abdur-Rahim is officially off the 2009-10 payroll, assuming he does not pull a Darius Miles next year. By trading expiring contracts for Thomas and no other moves, the Kings would sit at $60 million in payroll. Add $8 million in the event the Kings get the No. 1 pick and the Washington pick ends up No. 2. In all likelihood, the team would be safely under the luxury tax threshold by a small amount.

And the team would own: Kevin Martin, Jason Thompson, Spencer Hawes, two of the top six picks in the 2009 draft, Donté Greene, a late first-round 2009 pick, $28-33 million in '10 expiring contracts, Francisco Garcia and Beno Udrih. The team would have only $35 million locked in for 2010-11.

And again, this assumes no other deals. If you want to start from scratch, adding two top-6 picks ain't a bad way to go. (I'm a bit skeptical Washington will actually trade its pick this week, but the rumor has popped up in multiple legit places.)