Social scientists introduced the concept of unintended consequences. When a change is introduced in a complex system, often unexpected outcomes, both positive and negative, will result. With that in mind, when the Wizards selected Jan Vesley, Chris Singleton and Shelvin Mack in the 2011 NBA Draft, their selections will likely have a direct influence on any decisions the team makes to further reshape its roster.
The Wizards were able to select three players who addressed specific areas of need. It is expected that all three will make the team, so how will their selection affect the team's decision moving forward? How will their presence impact which existing players the Wizards keep and what players they target in free agency? Introducing these three players will have an immediate and direct impact on other players on the roster.
Let's take a look at the current state of the unofficial roster broken out by the primary position each player is expected to play:
Mustafa Shakur - RFA
Shelvin Mack (R)
Without question, the Wizards' starter is set for quite some time to come. Shelvin Mack, if you listen to the comments by Ernie Grunfeld and Flip Saunders,will be the eventual (or immediate) back up to John Wall.
They Wizards also made a qualifying offer to Mustafa Shakur, which implies, but does not guarantee, that he will be with the team - as a NBA team has the right to withdraw a qualifying offer, making the player an unrestricted free agent (Correction: The Wizards did not extend a qualifying offer to Shakur).
The Wizards have two very young point guards in Wall and Mack, it would seem to make sense to add a veteran to the roster. This veteran should not expect to see significant minutes, but should instead expect to share time with Mack. Additionally they should be there in case of injury or to be used to exploit certain matchups. This should be a solid vet who is essentially nearing the end of his career. One such vet that comes to mind is Anthony Carter. He's far from exciting but a solid 13 year guy who will play his role.
Nick Young - RFA
Othyus Jeffers - RFA
This is a bad year for Nick Young to be a restricted free agent, as there is uncertainty over the CBA and the salary cap is likely to be reduced. It is highly unlikely that teams will line up to sign Young as a RFA. So while both Young and Othyus Jeffers are restricted free agents, one if not both are likely to be back with the team.
Last season, Young and Jordan Crawford both proved that they could be capable scorers. However, Crawford in particular was not particularly adept at providing consistent shooting from behind the three-point line. It would benefit the Wizards to spread the floor by adding a consistent three point threat. Can the Wizards get Young, Crawford, Mack or one of their wing players to develop into this type of consistent shooter, or will the Wizards need to pick up this type of player later in the offseason?
Yi Jianlian (RFA*)
Jan Vesely (R)
Andray Blatche, Rashard Lewis and Vesely are (or will be in the case of Jan) under contract for the upcoming season. Yi Jianlian is currently a restricted free agent, but since the team did not make him a qualifying offer, he will become an unrestricted free agent on June 30th, which means that he probably played his last game with the Wizards. Yi's injuries seemed to rob him of the ability to string together consistent performances last season, and few will cry over his departure - except maybe the Wizards marketing department and the lost opportunities in China. However, Yi, when he wasn't injured, did provide Flip with the flexibility to play center.
Ernie Grunfeld and Flip Saunders have spent a significant amount of time talking about the cultural shift to playing consistently hard and a commitment to defense. While Blatche and Lewis are near locks to be with the team next season, it is a very big season for both gentlemen. Blatche needs to prove that he can mature and conform to how the coaching staff wants him to play. Lewis is likely playing to showcase his talents to a future contender who believes that they are "one player away."
The presence of Blatche and Lewis (assuming he is fully healthy) will impact the minutes available for Vesely and Trevor Booker (listed below). Prior to his injury, Booker had worked his way into the Wizards rotation. If Blatche is still unable (or unwilling) to perform as a complete player - scoring, rebounding and defense - then the Wizards should consider moving him in order to create additional playing time for their younger power forwards. Andray has been able to prove over the last season and a half that he can score in the NBA. However, if he is not going to consistently rebound and if he continues to be a defensive liability, then he is not worth the roster spot.
Maurice Evans - UFA
Josh Howard - UFA
Larry Owens - RFA
Chris Singleton (R)
Booker and Singleton are (or will be in the case of Singleton) under contract for next season. The Wizards made a qualifying offer to Larry Owens, so it is possible that he will be back with the team. However, Howard and Evans are unrestricted free agents. It is unlikely that Howard, particularly after being injured much of the last two seasons, will be back with the team. While both the team and Evans would like to agree to a new deal, Evans will receive some interest on the open market. If the Wizards lose both Evans and Howard, then it might be necessary to pick up a defensive-minded veteran small forward in free agency. If only there were a ton of them laying around (sarcasm).
Hamady N'Diaye - RFA
McGee and Seraphin are both under contract and N'Diaye was given a qualifying offer, so as it stands today, all will be back with the team. Seraphin earned playing time in part due to injuries to Yi. N'Diaye played very sparingly aside from his trips down to the NBA Developmental League. While these three, and likely Blatche, will log all of the Wizards minutes at center, it could benefit the Wizards to add a veteran reserve that can play both the 4 and the 5.
The current CBA guarantees that league-wide team rosters will average 14 players. Each team must have 12 players on its active roster and can have up to three more players who are inactive - bringing the total possible to 15 players. If this does not change in the new CBA, then it would mean that
four three of the 18 players mentioned will definitely not be part of the final roster.
Most obviously, the selection of Vesely, Singleton and Mack means that there are three fewer roster spots. How quickly adjust to the NBA game, their offseason development, the skills and flexibility that they provide will all be factors in what additional pieces are brought in to round out the Wizards 2011-12 roster.