FanPost

Bird Rights (or lack thereof) will limit what the Wizards can offer free agents

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I've seen a lot of contract numbers thrown around by the community on how much the Wizards should spend to re-sign their own free agents; so I thought I would provide some context and information about the various exceptions available for the Wizards to use.

First however, let's keep in mind that the Wizards will almost certainly NOT have cap space this summer! To even get a nominal amount of cap space (about $17.6 Million), the Wizards would have to renounce ALL of their free agents and waive and stretch Ian Mahinmi. That would leave them with only four players under contract (Wall, Beal, Howard and Troy Brown) and their 1st round draft pick - with only $17.6 Million in cap space to fill out the rest of the roster. That would be a foolish thing to do.

Without cap space, the Wizards would NOT be able to sign other team's free agents unless they use an exception like the Full Mid-Level Exception (MLE = $9.0 Million), the Tax Payer Mid-Level Exception (TPMLE = $5.6 Million) or the Bi-Annual Exception (BAE = $3.6 Million).

Suffice to say that the Wizards would be better off operating as an "above the cap" team this summer so they can use exceptions to re-sign their own free agents and fill out the rest of the roster with minimum contracts.

Wizards players under contract:

John Wall - Under contract for next year for $38,150,000. Contract runs through June 2023 (player option).
Bradley Beal - Under contract for next year for $27,093,018. Contract runs through June 2021.
Ian Mahinmi - Under contract for next year for $15,450,051. Contract expires June 2020.
Troy Brown - Under contract for next year for $3,219,480. Team options for 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons.
Dwight Howard - Under contract for next year for $5,603,850. (player option)
Jabari Parker - Under contract for next year for $20,000,000. (team option)

Rights for Wizards free agents:

Thomas Bryant - Restricted. Early Bird (Gilbert Arenas Rule). Wizards have only "early Bird" rights. From CBAFAQ.COM - The Early Bird exception allows teams to re-sign their own free agent for up to 175% of his previous salary (in Bryant's case $2,411,923); OR 105% of the league average salary in the previous season ($9,073,050). Since Bryant is a Restricted Free Agent (RFA), the Wizards can offer him a salary, or match any offer up to $9,073,050. The contract can be up to 4-years with raises of up to 8% of the salary in the first year of the contract (other teams can only offer 5% raises). The Wizards can match any offer up to $9,073,050; HOWEVER another team could offer Bryant a larger contract using cap space, and the Wizards would be unable to match.

Tomas Satoransky - Restricted. Full Bird. The Wizards can offer up to a max contract ($27 Million) for up to 5-years in length, with raises up to 8% of the salary in the first season of the contract. Other teams can only offer 4-years, and raises of up to 5%. The Wizards can match any offer.

Trevor Ariza - Unrestricted. Non-Bird. The "Non-Bird" Free Agent exception allows a team to re-sign its own free agent to a salary starting at up to 120% of his salary in the previous season (in Ariza's case, $18,000,000). The contract can be up to 4-years and raises are limited to 5% of the salary in the first year of the contract.

Jeff Green - Unrestricted. Non-Bird. The "Non-Bird" Free Agent exception allows a team to re-sign its own free agent to a salary starting at up to 120% of his salary in the previous season (in Green's case, $1,815,122). The contract can be up to 4-years and raises are limited to 5% of the salary in the first year of the contract.

Jabari Parker – Unrestricted. Non-Bird. Assuming the Wizards decline the Team Option for Parker (a good assumption), Paker would become an unrestricted free agent. They can still re-sign him using a salary cap exception. With the Non-Bird exception, they can sign him to a 4-year contract up to 120% of his previous salary ($24 Million) with 5% raises. Or they could use the MLE, TPMLE or BAE.

Sam Dekker - Restricted. Full Bird. The Wizards can offer up to a max contract ($27 Million) for up to 5-years in length, with raises up to 8% of the salary in the first season of the contract. Other teams can only offer 4-years, and raises of up to 5%. The Wizards can match any offer.

Bobby Portis - Restricted. Full Bird. The Wizards can offer up to a max contract ($27 Million) for up to 5-years in length, with raises up to 8% of the salary in the first season of the contract. Other teams can only offer 4-years, and raises of up to 5%. The Wizards can match any offer.

Chasson Randle - Restricted. Early Bird (Gilbert Arenas Rule). As with Bryant, the Wizards have only "early Bird" rights on Randle. The Wizards can offer him a contract up to 175% of his previous salary (in Randle's case $2,411,923); OR up to 105% of the league average salary in the previous season ($9,073,050). The contract can be up to 4-years with raises of up to 8% of the salary in the first year of the contract (other teams can only offer 5% raises). The Wizards can match any offer up to $9,073,050.

Wesley Johnson - Unrestricted. Full Bird. The Wizards can offer up to a max contract ($32.4 Million) for up to 5-years in length, with raises up to 8% of the salary in the first season of the contract. Other teams can only offer 4-years, and raises of up to 5%.

As you can see, the Wizards will have a good chance of resigning whichever of their free agents they want to retain, with the possible exception of Jeff Green and Jabari Parker. The way he has played this year I doubt that a salary of $1.8 Million will be enough to retain Green, and Parker may be too expensive. However let's remember the Wizards could also re-sign Green using an exception (MLE = $9 Million, TPMLE = $5.6 Million, or BAE = $3.6 Million). It would be fairly easy to re-sign him to the TPMLE (or BAE), but to use the Full MLE might be a bit tricky - and would require the Wizards to resign certain players first, and wait to resign others - but there ARE ways to get it done - but it would surely put them DEEP in the tax again. As I said, tricky.

Using Shamsports Capulator, I tried my hand at being the General Manager for the Wizards this Summer.

I assumed that Dwight Howard will exercise his player option for next year - so I have included his $5.6 Million in my calculations. I also assumed that the Wizards will decline the $20 Million team option for Jabari Parker and try to resign him on a cheaper deal, or let him sign somewhere else.

I decided against waiving and stretching Ian Mahinmi's deal. It doesn't get the Wizards any cap room (unless they waive all their free agents). His contract is only for one more year - and although I could have freed up a little over $10 Million (under the tax), it would cost the Wizards $5.1 Million in dead money per year for the next three years. They just got finished with Martell Webster's cap hit this year, and I didn't want to saddle the team with that dead cap hit in future years. Besides, maybe they can move him as an expiring contract at the trade deadline next year. However, waive-and-stretch is a tool the Wizards can use to free up around $10 Million to resign one (or more) of their free agents if the money gets tight. You may have a different opinion on the waive-and-stretch issue.

My free agency moves

Sign Tomas Satoransky to a 4-year, $40.7 Million deal (first year $9.1 Million | AAV = $10.2 Million)

Sato would be priority number one priority in free agency. Although he is the emergency starter now, his eventual role (and the role he should be paid for) will be to backup John Wall. Sato is incredibly valuable to the Wizards because of his versatility. He can play PG, SG and SF, defends his butt off, doesn't take bad shots, and rarely turns the ball over. I doubt any team in the League would want to pay him starter money (Phoenix?), and the point guard market will be flooded this year (Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, Goran Dragic, D’Angelo Russell, Ricky Rubio, Darren Collison, Patrick Beverley, Jeff Teague, Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose, among others). I think that Sato's value to the Wizards is greater than it would be to another team - but if another team made an offer, I might be willing to slightly overpay to keep him.

Sign Sam Dekker to a 2-year, $6 Million deal (first year $3.0 Million, second year not guaranteed)
Sam has not yet made his mark in the NBA. He was drafted by Houston, but was sent to the Clippers in the Chris Paul trade as filler. The Clippers then traded him, with "cash considerations" a year later to the Cavaliers for Vladimir Veremeenko. In other words, "here, take our guy. We'll give you the money to pay him". By the way, Veremeenko (drafted by the Wizards) has been used in three different trades without having played in a single NBA game. Back to Dekker... I doubt there is much of a free agent market for him, but he does bring energy and enthusiasm to the team - so I suggest a 2-year, team friendly deal so the Wizards can evaluate him and obtain his Bird rights if they want to keep him past 2021.... but make the second year non-guaranteed in case the Wizards need the flexibility of a roster spot in 2020, or if things just don't work out, or if they want to send him out somewhere to get under the tax. If he gets a better offer, say thanks for the memories, and move on.

Sign Trevor Ariza to a 3-year, $25.2 Million deal (first year $9.1 Million | AAV = $9.85 Million)
I am hesitant to sign Ariza for more than 3 years, and I think that a deal starting just over the MLE is a fair offer. (Plus, it keeps teams that are over the cap from making a better offer with their Full MLE of $9 Million). As he ages, the cap will increase, and his cap hit won't be a problem - even if his game takes a step or two backwards. His quiet veteran leadership alone is worth this contract. But if a team with cap space wants to spend $10 Million or more on Ariza, the Wizards should let him walk.

Renounce the rights to Wesley Johnson. Bradley Beal plays the majority of the SG minutes, and the Wizards have cheaper options to back him up. (PLAY TROY BROWN!!!).

Sign Thomas Bryant to a 2-year, $11.8 Million deal (first year $5.7 Million | AAV = $5.9 Million)
This is tough. I'm just not sure what the market for Bryant will be. There are a ton of veteran centers that will be on the market this off-season (DeMarcus Cousins, DeAndre Jordan, Robin Lopez, Nikola Vucevic, Dewayne Dedmon, Kyle O'Quinn, Brook Lopez, Tyson Chandler, etc.) - and it's not like teams have a ton of years to evaluate Bryant either... He has only this year under his belt. He plays with energy - and scores efficiently. But he doesn't have a "go to" move, is a liability on defense, isn't much of a rim protector, and he is not a great rebounder. Does his energy and scoring make up for his deficiencies? I think the Wizards need more time to evaluate... see how he fares on the second team when Dwight Howard is the starter. Give him 2-years so the Wiz can obtain his Bird rights. The deal is slightly more than the TPMLE - so that should keep a few teams at bay.

Sign Bobby Portis to a 4-year, $40.7 Million deal (first year $9.1 Million | AAV = $10.2 Million)
Portis reportedly wants $16 Million, but I doubt he sees anything close to that - at least I hope not. This is a tricky situation. Portis is still young, and could still have upside - but I don't see him as a good starting quality big man on a contending team; but who knows what another team's GM might think. I think he rates out as a rotation player / first big off the bench / sometimes starter. Hence the $11.3 Million AAV contract offer. I like his energy and intensity. Love that he can hit open threes. But his defense is questionable, and he sometimes displays poor body language. I'd like to retain him, but if another team makes a stronger offer, I wouldn't like it - but letting him go is better than overpaying for a backup (see Ian Mahinmi).

Sign Jeff Green to a 3-year, $17.8 Million deal using the Tax Payer MLE (first year $5.65 Million | AAV = $5.9 Million)
The Wizards may lose Green. Because he is a "Non Bird" free agent, and he signed a 1-year minimum deal ($1.5 Million) last summer, the most the Wizards can offer him without using an exception is $1.8 Million. I have offered the Tax Payer Mid-Level Exception ($5.6 Million) in a 3-year deal. He may want to go elsewhere where he could make more money - or he may want a 1-year deal to bump up his value. If I am the Wizards General Manager, I would want to at least sign him to a 2-year deal so we could obtain his full Bird rights at the end of the contract. Let's hope he really loves playing at home.

Sign Chasson Randle to a 1-year, $1.9 Million deal (175% of his previous salary)

Sign Jordan McRae and Aaron White (remember him?) to 1-year minimum contracts ($888,928). Cheap young guys that can fill out the back end of the roster and play in the G-League when they're not needed by the big club. The Wizards almost signed White last year. From Twitter: Donatas Urbonas: Aaron White revealed he almost signed with Wizards this summer:"I thought it was like for sure happening. But some stuff fell through in a last second. They had signed the guy they didn’t think they gonna get. But I’m really excited to be back in Zalgiris"

My guess is that when the Wizards signed Dwight Howard, he took the White's spot - and the Wizards thought they didn't need both. The Wizards are happy with White's development overseas - and this year it may be time to bring him over to continue his development in the US.

My NBA Draft moves

With the 7th pick in the NBA draft, the Wizards select DeAndre Hunter. I considered K.Z. Okpala and Bruno Fernando at pick #7, but I settled on Hunter. If Cameron Reddish falls to #7 though, all bets are off. Hunter is a 6-foot-8 wing with arms that look like he's a Boeing 747 taking off (7-foot-2 wingspan). He has a solid, NBA ready, 222 pound frame. He's an efficient offensive player, shooting over 50 percent from the field, 42 percent from three and 78 percent from the free-throw line. He's an excellent rebounder and a willing passer; but his best attribute is that he's an excellent defender. Whether man-on-man, or in a team system, he's able to defend just about anyone. Switching defense, no problem. Caught in transition on the Point Guard, he's up to that challenge. He can move his feet on the switch-heavy perimeter, or bang down low with bigger opponents. And best of all, he defends without fouling.

Obviously the Wizards should also take a look at Issuf Sanon this Summer to see where he is in his development - but he looked like a long-term development project last summer; so I doubt he's ready for the big show.

In Summary

You will notice that I signed multiple players to deals with $9.1 Million as the first year salary. This is to limit the competition for those players services. The Non-Taxpayer MLE will be $9.0 Million. By offering $9.1 Million to Ariza, Satoransky, and Portis - it limits the competition to teams with cap space.

There are nine teams with significant cap space for this summer (enough for a max player); and those teams will be looking to first spend their cap space on the big guns (Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Kemba Walker, DeMarcus Cousins, Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard, etc.).

When some of those teams strike out on getting a big name free agent, they may turn to the second tier names (Bojan Bogdanovic, Tyreke Evans, Thad Young, Darren Collison, Goran Dragic, Khris Middleton, Nikola Mirotic, Julius Randle, DeAndre Jordan, Nikola Vucevic, Terrence Ross, Tobias Harris, Al-Farouq Aminu, Ricky Rubio, etc). Most of the Wizards' free agents are a tier below that - with the possible exceptions of Jeff Green and Trevor Ariza. There might be a team that would be interested in taking a short-term flier on Jabari Parker).

So I think it's possible that the Wizards could retain most of their free agents if they are smart about the structure of the deals they offer, and the timing of their signings.

With these moves, the Wizards would be $8.7 Million over the tax line, with a tax bill of $14.1 Million. That is a very manageable number as, under this scenario, the team would have a number of very movable contracts.

It's unfortunate that I couldn't find a way to keep Jabari Parker. Parker has his warts. He hasn't been an especially efficient offensive player, and his defense has been atrocious; (although his attitudes may have changed since he made the infamous statement "They don’t pay players to play defense").

There are also concerns about Parker's health; he's had two catastrophic knee injuries in four years. IF (and that's a big IF) Parker can be convinced to buy in on playing BOTH ENDS OF THE COURT, he could be a super pick up for some team. I just couldn't find it in the budget to sign him.

Try your hand at being the General Manager- and discuss my team below.

This represents the view of the user who wrote the FanPost, and not the entire Bullets Forever community. We're a place of many opinions, not just one.