By using the amnesty provision on Andray Blatche, the Wizards cast off their last remaining headache of the past three seasons. The closest to an admission of the mistake the team made betting on Blatche's development came on owner Ted Leonsis' blog, where he wrote, "Andray's time in D.C. didn't unfold as any of us had envisioned."
Leonsis now prefers only to look forward, and the Wizards rightfully should be judged on how they perform when the 2012-13 season begins. But the leash still will be short for a franchise that -- despite its admirably rapid turnover -- remains weighed down by years of underwhelming play. Here's where frustration could come quickly this fall:
If Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza struggle » Both will be around for the next two seasons as collateral for getting rid of Rashard Lewis, who wasn't going to contribute. Okafor's playing time isn't guaranteed, especially with Nene -- who must stay healthy -- and high expectations for Kevin Seraphin. But Ariza is the presumed starter at small forward, where the Wizards have struggled to get production. He needs to score in double figures for a fourth straight season and show that he's better than a career 31.7 percent shooter from 3-point range.
If Jan Vesely doesn't develop » Seraphin may go down as a rare successful overseas draft choice for Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld. But that won't matter if Vesely, Washington's 2011 lottery pick, can't figure out how to hit midrange jump shots and free throws consistently. Through four summer league games, Vesely averaged 9.3 points on 51.6 percent shooting, but he averaged more fouls (6.8) than rebounds (6.5) and shot just 35.7 percent at the line (5-for-14).
If John Wall doesn't make the leap »
After being shielded from judgment by the lack of talent around him in his first two seasons, Wall no longer has any excuses. (The Wizards also need to figure out whether Shelvin Mack is good enough to be the long-term backup point guard.) Wall must develop his ability to play under control and to knock down open jumpers. Leonsis and Grunfeld have freed themselves from Blatche; all their ropes are now hitched to Wall.
- Craig Stouffer