Trevor Ariza emerged as the team's most consistent and valuable player from the wing last season, but that means he could be due a raise from his $7.7 million salary. A good number of small forwards earned over $10 million during the 2013-14 season, including some who arguably performed worse than him.
This doesn't mean that the Wizards are just going to let Ariza walk without a fight. They will come up with an offer in order to meet Ted Leonsis' mandate that they try to keep the core of this team together. They will also have to do so while managing the salary cap for the future, considering that John Wall's max extension goes into effect next season, Nene still has multiple years left on his deal and Bradley Beal will soon receive a big extension of his own.
But for the purposes of this piece, let's assume that Ariza is on another team in 2014-15. If so the Wizards need to decide whether they have to find a one-to-one replacement for Trevor Ariza in free agency altogether.
Given how much Ariza contributed to the Wizards last season, it's going to be hard to replicate that type of success again, even if he does re-sign, but the Wizards also have some in-house options at the small forward position. They have Martell Webster and Otto Porter under contract for next season, and as Mike already noted, there's a way Webster can regain much of his 2012-13 form. However, Webster was never the defensive stopper that Ariza was and Porter needs more seasoning to develop into a contributor.
Luol Deng, Cleveland Cavaliers - We already spoke in detail about Deng and the impact he could provide to the table. He's is a more versatile player on offense and one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA. However, he is likely going to ask for a salary even higher than Ariza would and the Wizards still need to find out on what to do with Porter. Plus, he's an old 29 given the minutes he's played. I don't see the Wizards pursuing him that aggressively unless they know that at least Ariza won't be back.
C.J. Miles, Cleveland Cavaliers - Miles enters unrestricted free agency after two seasons with the Cavaliers, where he has been making threes and free throws at a good clip while not averaging even 24 minutes a game. The Wizards could sign him to a deal for much less than Ariza and he could be an effective three point marksman in the rotation. But I also doubt he's any more of a long term starter than Webster or Porter.
Evan Turner, Indiana Pacers - Turner is a restricted free agent, so the Pacers could technically match any offer sheet he signs. That said, he didn't play much of a role in Indy after he was traded there from the Philadelphia 76ers, where he was putting up good fantasy numbers on an otherwise bad team. His defense has a lot of room for improvement and the Wizards already have Webster, who also is iffy on that end of the floor. If the Wizards could get Turner to sign a reasonable offer sheet and the Pacers do not match it, it could be worth it if they can get him to play better team defense.
Marvin Williams, Utah Jazz - The former No. 2 pick in the 2005 NBA Draft will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Williams has been what I would call a utility player his career. He can shoot, rebound, take care of the ball, and play defense, but he hasn't done anything at an elite level so far. That kind of reminds me of what we thought of Otto Porter before the NBA Draft. I don't see him earning a significant amount next year, so if the Wizards can sign him at a reasonable price, he could be used as a player to exploit mismatches on the floor given his 6'9" height.
Al-Farouq Aminu, New Orleans Pelicans - Aminu will be an unrestricted free agent after averaging 7.2 points and 6.2 rebounds during the 2013-14 season, but his numbers dropped from the previous season and he fell out of the starting lineup, so it's unlikely he's coming back to the Big Easy. Aminu can be an athletic defender, but he is a very inconsistent shooter to the point where teams just left him open and dared him to shoot. The Wizards (and any other team) should be able to sign him at a reasonable rate considering this, but he has to improve his shooting ability or teams will just be playing five-on-four whenever he is on the floor.
Thabo Sefolosha, Oklahoma City Thunder - The Swiss unrestricted free agent is listed as a shooting guard, but in the Wizards' system, the wings are pretty interchangeable. Sefolosha has built a reputation for being a solid 3-and-D player in this league. However, Sefolosha's three point shooting percentage dropped considerably in the 2013-14 season and he fell out of favor during the playoffs for Reggie Jackson. If he can be signed at a low price and regain his efficiency from the three point line, he could be a good pickup for the Wizards.
If the Wizards must replace Ariza, it won't be done with signing one player. Webster, Porter, and whichever free agent wings they sign this summer can help fill the void by committee.
Are there any other free agent small forwards who you believe could be good fits in Washington? Share them in the comments below.