Remember the 2010 draft? Hey, of course you do. The Los Angeles Clippers selected Al-farouq Aminu, picking eighth. Considered a project at small forward with considerable upside when he was drafted, he was something of an afterthought in the trade Chris Paul trade that was more about Eric Gordon and the allure of a Timberwolves' first-round draft pick that turned into ... Austin Rivers.
Several years had passed without Aminu progressing in the lofty, nebulous vein fans reserve for mid to late lottery picks by the time he was traded. He was still an enigma in New Orleans and the team declined his option for the 2012/13 season despite his elite rebounding and having improved on already solid defense.
Yet that wasn't the end of the road for Aminu in NOLA. The most the team could offer him as an unrestricted free agent was the value of the team option they declined. The Pelicans no doubt benefited from a surplus of sweet-shooting wings flooding the market, as well as Aminu's own decent play as a good defender, and Aminu decided to wait another year as he signed a one year deal for $3.7 million.
Point being, declining the team option on a player isn't saying goodbye.
That has to be on the mind of the Wizards' front-office as they decide which options to pick up for next season. Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Booker, Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton are all theoretically on notice. Seraphin has flashed that beautiful hook shot, but as Umair discussed, his awareness needs an upgrade. Booker can make an impact with his energy on the offensive end, but how many undersized power forwards command attention in the open market without being able to effectively defend the pick-and-roll and reliable jumpshot? Jan hasn't shown as much as either of those two, and judging from some of his recent comments, might put Washington in his rear view in free agency at the first opportunity. Singleton still has plenty to pick up on the both sides of the ball.
At this point, the Wizards can get away with declining their options or qualifying offers. They can always re-sign the players whose options they decline, like the Hornets/Pelicans did with Aminu, and they can always pick up qualifying offers again if the restricted free agents don't go elsewhere.
To push for a transformational free agent, you've got to make room and the Wizards can't really afford to guarantee contracts for players who are just taking up space.
More from Bullets Forever:
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- Why Bradley Beal might be the second star Washington needs
- Who could be the Wizards' free-agent splash? Looking ahead at the summer of 2014