It's a slow news day for the Wizards. There's been reports of the Wizards wooing Trevor Ariza in the past few days, but everyone knows the market for wing players like him is on hold until Carmelo Anthony and the Big 3 in Miami make their respective decisions.
So, we're forced into more speculation. J Michael of CSN Washington tweeted out the following, which drew my interest.
None of this is earth-shattering. It's under the very likely scenario that Ariza does re-sign in Washington, and it's worth noting the plan was made prior to the Martell Webster injury, but many of this is obvious. We know Otto Porter is in line for more minutes, and we know Webster is Beal's primary backup for the time being because he was exactly that just last season. The Wizards don't have a traditional shooting guard behind Beal because their 2s and 3s are interchangeable in Randy Wittman's offense.
But I do have some concerns with this line of thinking.
1) What does this do to Beal's reps with the second unit?
This is my chief concern. This has nothing to do with tapering down the starters' minutes because there are other ways of going about it (namely improving the bench). It has everything to do with Beal's rapidly improving off-the-dribble game. If we learned anything about Randy Wittman last season, it's that he has a tough time managing his offense. In the regular season, it was running the offense through the post too often or calling too many plays out of timeouts that centered around a two-man action involving Beal and a big man. They almost forgot John Wall existed for long stretches, hence, their offense withering down the stretch.
Beal's floor game did sort of come out of nowhere, and Wittman was forced to improvise against the two best defenses in the league, but expecting wholesale changes to the offense isn't reasonable.
In a perfect world, the offense will be just fine with Wall and an improving Beal. They have always been lights out with a healthy starting lineup, but we could be in for an entirely new Beal if he makes that jump. Should he improve, I have my doubts that Wittman will get the most out of him and John together, which is why I believe he should see his normal minutes with the second unit. Furthermore, he helps absorb some of the hit the defense takes when Andre Miller gets subbed in for John, which brings me to my next point ...
2) Andre Miller and Martell Webster in the backcourt cannot work defensively
Webster will be coming off his third back surgery in four years. He struggled to defend last year as he dealt with nagging back and ankle injuries, but the expectation was for him to be Beal's full-time backup for good? Bradley may have taken a small step back defensively, but for all of his flaws, he was at the very least able to relieve Miller by switching onto the quicker guards. This has been Webster's weak point since entering the league.
3) Reducing Wall and Beal's minutes won't work if you're bringing the same guards back for another year
Washington lost their chances of going through with this by picking up Andre Miller's option and deciding to use their cap space on Gortat and (possibly) Ariza. Ernie Grunfeld has done an excellent job in free agency by buying low on Drew Gooden, Webster and, to a lesser degree, Garrett Temple. But if Ariza makes it back, they will have 10 players under contract, not including Kevin Seraphin, who seems like he's returning, and Temple, who Washington is interesting in re-signing as well.
It will be very hard to manage Wall and Beal's playing time when the alternatives are playing Webster and Miller. The Professor is as durable as they come and many were pleased by his return, but he had his struggles last year and is 39. There were times when the offense got into sets late and they struggled to generate a clean look with the clock running down because Miller was always so gun-shy. (Or patient, whatever word you want to use). I'd be a lot more optimistic if Washington brings in a combo guard they can run the offense through, but until then, I think you have to play those two close to the minutes they were at last season.
Maybe Porter and Rice can step up and relieve that burden. If not, though, the alternatives aren't pretty.
I understand the train of thought. Rest is a great thing, and Wall in particular looked drained in April and May. But I suspect this will be a lot harder than we think.