We're putting the cart before the horse here, but since it's August, I figure we could take a look ahead at next year's free-agent class in light of Ted Leonsis' recent comments that the Wizards want to be in a position to pursue a "marquee, brand-name free agent" in the near future.
I'll believe the Wizards are significantly dipping their toes into the free-agent market when I see it. Nevertheless, let's look at who the Wizards might go after if they do indeed try to make a move.
HOW MUCH CAP SPACE?
The Wizards punted on cap space this summer by trading for Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza, but they could be sitting pretty next summer depending on a few moves. Using Sham Sports as a guide, here's the Wizards' salary situation in 2014.
PLAYERS FOR SURE UNDER CONTRACT
JOHN WALL: $13.7 million (projection)
NENE: $13 million
MARTELL WEBSTER: $5.3 million
OTTO PORTER: $4.5 million
SUBTOTAL: $36.5 million
PLAYERS WITH OPTIONS
BRADLEY BEAL: Has a third-year team option for $4.5 million that will surely be picked up on October 31.
JAN VESELY: Has a fourth-year team option for $4.2 million that I hope won't be exercised. That's too much for what he's shown, and he can always be re-signed anyway even if the option isn't picked up.
CHRIS SINGLETON: Has a fourth-year team option for $2.5 million that must be picked up by October 31. I would pass on this one as well.
ERIC MAYNOR: Has a player option for $2.1 million. Probably 50/50 on whether he picks it up.
Let's assume Beal and Maynor have their options picked up. That brings the subtotal to $43.1 million.
EMEKA OKAFOR: His cap hold will be 150 percent of his previous salary, which comes to $21.75 million. The Wizards must renounce him -- and thereby relinquish their Larry Bird rights to re-sign him -- to sign a marquee free agent.
TREVOR ARIZA: His cap hold will be 150 percent of his previous salary, which comes to $11.5 million. The Wizards will probably have to renounce him -- and thereby relinquish their Larry Bird rights to re-sign him -- to sign a marquee free agent.
KEVIN SERAPHIN: Will be a restricted free agent. If the Wizards want to gain the right to match any contract offer, they must exercise his $3.9 million qualifying offer. His cap hold would be 250 percent of his previous salary, which comes to $7 million. It's unlikely that Seraphin's next contract will be for more than $7 million in year 1, so the Wizards could elect to sign him quickly at a lower amount, or they could not pick up the qualifying offer, renounce him and let him fly free. I like the idea of option 1, but it'll depend on his play this year.
TREVOR BOOKER: Will be a restricted free agent, so the same conditions Seraphin has apply here. Booker's qualifying offer is $3.4 million, and his cap hold will be just under $5.8 million.
GARRETT TEMPLE: His cap hold will be whatever portion of his current minimum salary is not paid by the league. This'll be well under $1 million and therefore isn't significant.
GLEN RICE JR: Will make $816,000 in 2014-15, but is only guaranteed slightly less than half of that. Can be released at any time.
If the Wizards use a first-round pick, it'll likely cost somewhere between $1.3 and $2 million for his first-year salary.
The most realistic scenario is that the Wizards pick up Beal's option, make a first-round pick and see Maynor pick up his option. That'll leave the Wizards with salary number somewhere between $44 and $45 million. The salary cap was set at just over $58 million this year and will likely get bumped up slightly, perhaps to $60 million. That potentially puts the Wizards on the border of having maximum cap room, with a few pieces available to potentially sign and trade to land a big piece.
So, the room is there. Who could come? This is an exercise in baseless speculation, but what the heck, let's do it anyway.
LEBRON JAMES: Not happening.
DIRK NOWITZKI: Not happening.
CARMELO ANTHONY: Not happening.
PAUL PIERCE: He'll be turning 37 before opening night in 2014-15, so while he's still going strong, he probably doesn't fit the timeline. Besides, the Nets will keep him if he's still any good.
GREG MONROE: Now this one's interesting. Monroe would be a restricted free agent and I've seen no indication that the Pistons want him to fly away, so this possibility could get shut down really quickly if Monroe gets a contract extension before October 31. But if not ... he's young, from the area, one of the league's best young big men and a less-than-ideal fit in Detroit given his struggles playing with Andre Drummond last year and the addition of Josh Smith. I'd happily sacrifice some assets to bring Monroe here to replace Emeka Okafor and become the team's critical frontcourt piece if the opportunity presented itself.
DEMARCUS COUSINS: The same things that were just written about Monroe apply double to DMC, since he's John Wall's buddy and a Dan Fegan client. Given the choice, though, I'd prefer Monroe.
DERRICK FAVORS: The jury is still very much out on him, but he's another young big to watch. Problem is, if he breaks out, the Jazz will want to keep him.
PAU GASOL: Barring a bounce-back season this year, I think he's too old. But if he does bounce back, he could be a useful bridge player in the short term.
CHRIS BOSH: I find it hard to believe he's leaving Miami, but if he does for some reason, he should vault way up the list. Still relatively young and a perfect fit offensively. He's also much better defensively than people realize, particularly in the pick and roll. A frontcourt of Bosh and Nene would be so much fun to watch.
ROLL OVER TO 2015: Problem with this strategy is that the Wizards will need to either re-sign Okafor or find a suitable replacement, which will eat into their cap space that year. The Wizards also need to work on an extension with Bradley Beal, though it wouldn't kick in until 2016. That's why 2014 is the best time to strike.
MAKE A TRADE INSTEAD: This would be another option -- perhaps a better one, even. The Wizards have Okafor and Ariza's expiring contracts, Porter, Seraphin, any member of the forward flotsam and first-round picks every year to dangle as bait. That's a lot more than most teams possess.
Marquee free agents are scarce by design, but it also only takes one. Here's to hoping the Wizards play well enough to attract these players and they will remain available rather than staying with their current teams.