Bad mid-level signings can cripple franchises. Chucking MLE and higher contracts at the likes of Drew Gooden and John Salmons can ruin years of carefully planned cap flexibility. With John Wall in place, the last thing we want to see is the front office over (or under) commit to anyone. Easy job, yeah? In his current form, Nick Young's unconscious shooting and respectable man defense makes him sound a lot like a sixth man on a contender.
Establishing the market for that kind of player on a non-contending team is difficult. This is usually because a dearth of contender-level talent means that player is starting, and starters command a different level of contract (unless it's Jason Terry). Of course, if you can get such a player for less than they're worth, that's a huge bonus. But there's often far more risk involved in letting the market establish itself than the gambit is worth. That's how the Redskins ended up snaking Stephen Bowen from the Cowboys, but the example we're going to look at is Wesley Matthews. The gambit the Trail Blazers used to sneak him away from the Jazz works for the home team this time and it's the kind of smart cap move that adds up to flexibility next summer.
Wesley Matthews was an undrafted swingman who signed on to the Jazz and enjoyed a very respectable season. The Jazz decided not to make an offer to their rookie gem and waited for the market to establish itself. Matthews later stated he likely would have signed a reasonable offer straight out, but he never received an opening bid from the home team and the Trail Blazers were waiting. Portland frontloaded a 5 year, $34 million offer sheet and with the Jazz close to and conscious of the salary cap line, they were instantly checkmated. What does this mean for the Wizards?
Reflexively, it means there's little chance we'll lose Nick Young unless someone overbids recklessly. We should be able to outbid any offer from an opposing team by frontloading the deal a la the Trail Blazers. But the model I'm really lookinig to copy is Nick Collison's deal with the Thunder, authored by Sam Presti.
Speculation has begun on the Wizards cap space, and just what they plan to do with it. The BOYD gambit beloved of the Bullets Forever community is out following the likely terms of the new CBA. We see plenty of cap space, but with the FA class of 2011 being underwhelming especially with the looming 2012 offseason featuring a higher caliber of player, there aren't any targets out there for the kind of cash the Wizards have to burn.
Presti signed Collison to a 4 year, $11 million dollar extension with a $6.5 million signing bonus. The way it's structured, Collison's salary declines over the life of his contract. The Thunder's cap space took a large hit upfront (otherwise sitting and becoming dead cap space), but left plenty of extra flexibility through the 2014/15 season while retaining a key reserve. Sign Nick to a similarly structured deal (it will certainly take more cash) with a big signing bonus and we've retained a key player, utilized cap space to the fullest possible extent, and guaranteed maximum cap flexibility going forward.
Not everyone is in love with Nick's game, preferring a SG who is a stronger team defender/rebounder/playmaker. To play devil's advocate opposite myself, should the team decide to trade him in the future, a cap friendly contract for a scoring off guard coming into the prime of his career is a big trade inducement. I believe Nick is a part of the contender the Wizards are building, but whether you agree or not, his signing and the terms of it are crucial to the future of the franchise.