So the Wizards are back into the full swing of things after the all-star break and they are spending this time to not only get themselves back in the playoff race, but they are also trying to acclimate both Markieff Morris and Alan Anderson into their rotations. The trade for Morris clears some question marks about the team's long term outlook at the 4 position. Although his transition with the team so far has been very slow, it is assumed that he will eventually take over as the starting PF in the near future. So with that said, when you look at the roster that is under contract next year, assuming Beal is signed back, the Wizards have a player at every position with Kelly Oubre serving as wing depth. They would have every position filled but they also have tons of money left over, so this begs the question, what position is this team trying to upgrade in the off-season or in other words, which player are you going to move to the bench or get rid of in order to upgrade this roster, if any? Let's look at the candidates (Of course Wall is not included):
Again assuming Beal comes back, he is going to be one of the primary scorers on this team. Giving him a long-term contract would signal him as a franchise cornerstone and put the team in a position with the expectation that they are expecting him to contribute. His talent is undeniable and at 22 years old, he has a chance to become an all-star (barring health), but if health issues with Beal continue, what should the team plan of attack be? A few weeks ago, I made the argument of Beal becoming the team's permanent 6th man, but realistically that will probably not happen, so with such a small list of options at the 2 spot in free agency, is it realistic to expect Beal to be moved or moved to the bench? I doubt it. My guess is he will remain a starter
Porter's situation is a bit more murky. Playing in his first year as a full-time starter, he hasn't shown that he is the clear cut owner of the future 3 spot for this team. His play on both ends has been up and down, so much so that Randy Wittman has opted to play Garrett Temple at the end of games as opposed to Otto. Does that sound good? Probably not. Then you add on Kelly Oubre who is playing behind Porter, who has shown flashes, and Otto Porter's impending free agency after next year, what does this team really think of Otto? The decision will need to come this summer. If the Wizards look for an upgrade at the 3, would that signal the end for Otto here in DC? Would it make sense to keep a player that you could potentially replace with a free agent on a long term deal and have to extend him the next year while already having a young 1st round pick at the same position? It seems like the Wizards are going to make a decision soon with their 2013 1st round pick and if things keep up as they are, he will likely be out the door. My guess, he's getting traded and the Wizards will upgraded his position with a free agent. Players like Kevin Durant (duh), Chandler Parsons, Harrison Barnes, Nicolas Batum, and Kent Bazemore could serve as an upgrade.
It's so hard to evaluate his situation since he's so new to the team, but given that the team made a trade for a player that has another 3 years left on his deal, it seems hard to imagine him not being apart of the starting lineup for the team. He possess athleticism that this team has lacked in the front court for a couple of years and he has a skill set that seemingly fits well with John Wall. He seems to fit a lot of the components that this team is looking for at the 4 spot, so my guess is he remains as the starting 4 in the future and the team will find some one to play behind him.
Gortat is such a confusing player. There are nights when he looks like he can be an all-star and nights where he can be pushed around by Mugsy Bogues. With that said, he is a great fit on offense with John Wall. Their chemistry in the pick and roll, along with his ability to finish makes him a great player next to Wall. The issue with Gortat comes on the other side of the ball. One thing I have wondered is if not having Nene next to him on defense has began to expose his defensive deficiencies. He can be a good defender at times, but often times he's simply too slow to rotate against driving guards and struggles against traditional back to the basket type of bigs (even though they are a dying breed). Honestly the team would probably be better off getting a more defensive oriented center to compliment their smaller lineups but given the length of his contract (even though it's relatively cap friendly for the new TV money figures) and the involvement they have made in him as a key piece, I would assume the team will stick with him. Bigs like Hassan Whiteside and Festus Ezeli would be options, but the team would have to pony up some money.
Oubre Jr. is a very talented player but he is also very raw. The team no longer having a draft pick in the draft this year, gives him added value since he is a young player that can develop as a regular contributor to this team. It is assumed that he will remain as a role player off the bench next year, with a possibly more expanded role, but the question becomes, if you do find a player to replace Otto Porter and sign them to a long term deal, then where does this put Kelly? Is he destined to remain as a reserve for the next 3 to 4 years or will he eventually take reigns as a starter at some point? For now, he will be a reserve who can be a good sixth man next year with the right opportunity.
So there you have it. It appears to me that any money spent on this roster during free agency is likely going to be made to reduce or even move Otto Porter from the core. If this team is serious about upgrading and improving from this year, no matter what the result is (unless of course they are champions), they will likely have to upgrade their core and that may mean moving some people around. These next few weeks are critical not only for this season, but also with what the team team will do in the off-season. There is a clear justification for changes being made to this roster.
But what do you think? Do you honestly think this team can afford to stand pat with this core and assume the young players will improve and that will be it, or do you think they will work to fix the flaws with this group even if that means moving them? Also if not Porter, who on this list do you think is most likely to be expendable?