The Wizards’ summer isn’t completely over, but the big decisions have been made. Washington spent most of their $30 million in cap space signing Ian Mahinmi, Andrew Nicholson, and Tomas Satoransky, as well as using some of their cap space to acquire Trey Burke in a trade with Utah. They still have some minor decisions to make (more on that in a bit) and they need to fill out their bench, but the moves that will affect Washington the most have already been made.
We’ve already talked a bit about how Washington focused on improving what Wall can’t fix, and why their future is still bright, but here are a few other things we learned from their moves this week.
The Wizards locked into their core from now until when John Wall hits free agency
After years of shuffling pieces around John Wall, the Wizards now have a stable core of players around John Wall that he can play with until he hits free agency in three seasons at the end of the 2018-19 season. The three players the Wizards signed are all locked up until that point.
The Wizards’ six highest-paid players (Beal, Wall, Mahinmi, Gortat, Morris, Nicholson) are now all under contract through the 2018-19 season. And if we had to guess, Washington will make sure Otto Porter (the team’s seventh-highest paid player) through at least the 2018-19 season, if not longer. Washington will also have Kelly Oubre on his rookie deal throughout that time as well.
Also worth noting: Thanks to the length of all these deals, the Wizards have full Bird rights on all eight of the players just mentioned, so they can go over the cap to retain whoever they want to bring back beyond that point as well.
Plus, if Trey Burke has a good season in Washington, he’s a restricted free agent, so they could match any offer sheet he signs. Technically, they could talk about an early extension with him, just like with Otto Porter, but given Burke’s struggles in his NBA career, Washington is probably better off letting him try to establish his worth this season than trying to lock him up to a cheap, long-term deal this summer that bites them later if he doesn’t pan out.
The Wizards still loooooove first round talent
All but three players on the current roster were taken in the first round of the draft. This continues a trend of Ernie Grunfeld’s where he takes chances on players with first-round talent like Trey Burke and Andrew Nicholson, even if they haven’t lived up to their draft billing.
The Wizards still aren’t big fans of second round talent
It’s really nice to see the Wizards were finally able to get Tomas Satoransky over to the NBA this season. But even in a year where they bring one second round pick to the roster, they still found a way to send one out in the Trey Burke deal. All throughout Ernie Grunfeld’s tenure use their second round picks to acquire players with NBA experience, bundle them to move up in drafts, or get rid of them to clear roster spots for veterans.
Since Grunfeld started making the Wizards’ draft picks in 2004, the only players he’s chosen in the second round that have played for the team are Peter John Ramos, Andray Blatche, Dominic McGuire, Hamady N’Diaye, Shelvin Mack, and Glen Rice Jr.
There are still some interesting decisions left to make this summer
Drew Gooden’s $3,547,000 salary becomes fully guaranteed if he’s still on the roster after July 15, according to The Vertical. It’s hard to imagine the Wizards will keep Gooden, but if we had to guess, they’re probably probing the league to see if anyone is interested in a trade. If a team wanted to clear cap space, or just wipe a player off their books, they could trade them to Washington for Gooden and then waive him to clear up some cap space. The Wizards wouldn’t get much value back in such a deal, but it might be better than whoever they could get with what little they have left in cap space.
Washington also has to make a decision on Jarell Eddie, whose $980,431 salary becomes guaranteed on 15th as well. He’ll have a chance to prove he’s worth a roster spot next week in Las Vegas with the Summer League. Essentially, he has to prove he’s a better option for a minimum spot than whoever else the Wizards could get for the same price.
Depending on the decisions the Wizards make with Gooden and Eddie, the Wizards could have less than $3 million left to spend before they hit the cap, or a little over $7.4 million if they choose to waive both.
Once they go over the cap, the Wizards can still use the Room Exception (up to $2.9 million for two years) and sign players to minimum deals to fill out the roster.