These days it seems like nothing can go right in the nation’s Capital: Washington D.C., with that whole Trump thing, oh and also the Wizards suck…again. On January 4th, John Wall underwent season ending surgery to repair a heel/Achilles deformity rendering him out for the remainder of the season.
Enter Bradley Beal, saving grace, shining light and all around bucket getter.
Alas this was not the case. The Wizards continued to struggled with Beal at the helm, finishing the season 32 – 50.
Heading to the offseason there are a couple of things to note that make life tricky for the Wiz. The most notable of these is the Cap space situation, with John Wall’s contract exploding from $19 million/year to $38 million/year, Jabari Parker’s $20 million cap hold, Ian Mahinmi’s guaranteed $31 million over two years and Bradley Beal’s $56 million/2 years, the Wiz will struggle to make the money work in signing anyone of note.
The second issue is the culture; for the past 5 seasons many of the reports out of Washington come back to: their lack of a leader, lack of locker room cohesion, lack of coach ability and all around LACK OF ANYTHING OF NOTE.
With that being said, the Wizard’s will only have 6 players under contract for the 2019/20 season (assuming they bring back Jabari Parker). The first priority for the Wizards outside of trading John Wall, is resigning Trevor Ariza. The mid season trade saw them give up a young and talented (albeit troubled) Kelly Oubre Jr, if the wiz don’t retain Ariza’s services then it will have all been in vain. Ariza is a rangy and versatile defender that can still shoot in stretches, his services will be highly sought after by any playoff team, particularly for the Laker, 76ers and teams of that ilk.
There is no clear cut way to revamp this roster, but the logical path is to bring in veteran players on middling contracts that can contribute immediately, the caveat being that the guys they do bring in need to have their head screwed on and illicit a positive change amongst the pre-existing Wizards. The Wizards wont be signing someone like Kevin Durant or Klay Thompson, there simply isn’t the money or appeal for that to happen, so this article might be a little disheartening to those of you who have suffered enough to call yourself Wizards Fans.
As such, here are 3 guys the Washington Wizards should chase after in Free Agency:
Temple is coming off a strong season with the Grizzlies, his trade to LAC left a little to be desired in terms of production with his shooting splits waning and his defense letting slip a little. That being said, he’s the type of player that will contribute straight away on any team and his veteran leadership is something greatly needed in this Wizards organization.
Pending an Ariza resigning and health permitting, the Wizards could roll out a starting five of:
PG John Wall
SG Bradley Beal
SF Garrett Temple
PF Trevor Ariza
C Dwight Howard
Not only is this full of shooting, but its also versatile and switchy defensively. If Howard can protect the rim, at anything close to respectable levels, it will allow Wall and Beal to hound opposing ball handlers and create transition opportunities for themselves and others. The three point shooting is there with Beal (35%), Ariza (35%) and Temple (35%) filling out the wings. The influx of youth and energy off the bench with Parker and Portis, led by Satoransky and Bryant could really see this team pull itself out of mediocrity.
Temple likely will demand around $10 million/year but I can see that number dropping as the playoff teams lean towards other 3 and D options on the open market. That doesn’t make Temple to the Wizards seem like a likely scenario, but it is one that I can see developing and one that the Wiz should chase at all costs.
This fit is less about play style and more about bringing in a player who can be an extension of the coaching body, someone who Wall and Beal will listen to straight away and that will demand respect from the younger players on this team. Carter is a known journeyman at this point in his career and any team would sign him in a heartbeat, even if he didn’t play a minute all season. His mentorship is an unquantifiable piece of basketball necessity that teams like the Wizards need desperately.
Take a look at the Atlanta Hawks this past season, they outperformed their Vegas win predictions and had fun doing it, they looked like a cohesive (though not particularly talented) playing group that got some big wins over teams like the Bucks and 76ers. Carter’s leadership could hopefully ground Wall and Beal and convince them to start playing a more team centric brand of basketball, something which I’m sure Wizards fans and players want to see more of.
The emotional issues of this Wizard’s team are as much, if not more of, an issue than their on court performance. They have a tendency to play down to bad teams and up to good ones, indicating a lack of leadership and consistent effort. The addition of a player like Carter could hopefully show this team the light…hopefully.
Hood accepted his qualifying offer from the Cavs last summer, making him an unrestricted free agent this free agency. His performance in the playoffs with the Portland Trailblazers showed that he could contribute on a playoff team, excelling as an iso scorer off the bench attacking mismatches and weak points. He’s just the type of guy that the Wizards need, a solid 3-point shooter with length and versatility defensively.
Hood seems to have his head in the right place, and looks like a kid who wouldn’t be fazed by the off court antics of this Wizards team. If the Wizards managed to scrounge up the money for Hood then I can see him considering this position, especially as it will likely be a starting role on a potential playoff caliber team, but this comes back to what I said in the opening: Why would any young free agents want to come to Washington?
This is where careers go to die, the off court drama and the disappointing on court performances mean that players are constantly overlooked (see Thomas Bryant’s stats this season) and all in all makes Washington DC an extremely unappealing destination.
If Hood’s asking price is too steep for other teams, similar to Temple I can see him dropping his sights to a starting role and consistent minutes at a lower cost to whatever team he decides to sign with. But the only way the Wizards get their foot in the door is if they get their sh*t together and work this all out like big kids.