The Eric Maynor problem

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Washington's backup point guard is struggling mightily, and it'll take a massive improvement for him to be the kind of presence the Wizards hoped. In the meantime, what can the Wizards do to compensate?

When the Washington Wizards signed Eric Maynor on the first day of free agency, I tried to keep an open mind. Maynor had never been quite as good as his reputation suggested, and he'd especially tanked since suffering a torn ACL at the beginning of the 2011-12 season. The hope was that the slight signs of life he showed at the end of last season with the Portland Trail Blazers might carry over to this season, especially with him one more year removed from that surgery.

I was skeptical, especially considering the rush to close the deal on the first day of free agency, but I saw the logic. Fast forward a few months, and those fears have manifested themselves and then some.

So far, Maynor is among the worst rotation players in the entire league. He's shooting 31 percent from the field and is coughing the ball up on nearly 20 percent of the team's possessions when he's in the game. His defense, never his strong suit, has gotten even worse. His shot-clock usage given his poor play is staggering. Sadly, any decisiveness he once had before the knee injury has been lost, as he's seeing plays a beat too slow and isn't getting into the lane to create a play. Consider the awfulness of this possession from Monday's loss to the Nuggets, one that was poorly executed by all, but especially Maynor.


Maynor did not see the court again after that play.

Perhaps the most laughable stat of all? The Wizards have been outscored by 29.3 points per 100 possessions when Maynor is in the game, per NBA.com. In other words: if Maynor played all 48 minutes of all 82 games at his level, the Wizards would lose by nearly 30 points each time. That's an incredible amount of damage yielded in Maynor's little court time. Maybe Maynor picks it up, but he has a looooooong way to go.

Most frustrating, of course, is that Ernie Grunfeld and the Wizards' brain trust believed in Maynor enough to lock him up on the first day of free agency. The cost wasn't prohibitive -- two years, $4.1 million, with the second year a player option -- but backup point guards don't usually cost a ton of money. Here's a list of backup small guards around the league, sorted by contract value. Bolded players were free agents this summer.

As important as a backup point guard was to the Wizards in light of their issues without John Wall last season, teams don't generally spend a lot on these types of players. Contracts like Jarrett Jack's are the exception, not the rule. Just this summer, teams found useful players like Nate Robinson, Toney Douglas, Darren Collison, Pablo Prigioni, Patty Mills, Shelvin Mack (ugh), Shaun Livingston, Devin Harris, Aaron Brooks, Jordan Farmer, Phil Pressey and Matthew Dellavedova for less than what the Wizards paid for Maynor. And this list doesn't even include players out of the league or tearing it up in the D-League.

Of course, not all of those players were viable Wizards options, but some of them were had they waited out the market a little longer. At this point, Maynor isn't as good as A.J. Price was last year, and he had to win his job in training camp with the Timberwolves. Unless Maynor dramatically turns this around, the decision to sign him was a mistake, especially because it took place on the first day of free agency.

For the here and now, though, the Wizards must find ways to compensate. Some possible options:

  1. Stay the course: Maynor can't be this bad all year, right? Perhaps some time with this system and some better, healthier teammates will at least make him competent.
  2. Promote Garrett Temple: Temple has been an offensive disaster this season and lacks Maynor's general point guard instincts, but he can run an offense decently and is a significant defensive upgrade. As a band-aid solution, this would be my preference.
  3. Elevate Glen Rice Jr. and have Bradley Beal run point with the second unit: This was an idea suggested by Jeff to me recently. I am concerned about having Beal set up the offense, but given Rice's solid game on Monday, maybe this is one way to earn him minutes and at least keep less productive players on the bench.
  4. Sign someone, anyone: The problem with this: the Wizards have 15 guaranteed contracts and must eat salary to add anyone. That's especially difficult because the Wizards are within $1.3 million of the luxury tax line of $71.7 million. Whoever they release still must be paid, plus whoever the team signs. It's going to be really difficult to sign someone and not go over the luxury tax.
  5. Make a trade: I have no clue who the Wizards could give up, but this is an option. Our Raptors bloggers have floated various trade scenarios to me for Kyle Lowry, for example, suggesting a couple members of the Flotsam, plus a second-round pick. That could work as a band-aid solution, though Lowry is an impending free agent and may not take too well to a bench role.
What's your solution? Let us know in the comments.

(All salary data via the indispensable Sham Sports)

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