The Wizards filled their two open roster spots with G-Leaguers before their final game of the regular season, signing Jordan McRae and Tarik Phillip to deals for the 2019-20 season. McRae’s deal is partially guaranteed for $200,000. Phillip’s deal is non-guaranteed.
McRae signed a two-way contract with the Wizards over the summer and provided solid production with the Wizards and the Capital City Go-Go. He earned first-team All G-League honors and averaged 5.9 points per game in 27 contests with the Wizards this season. Signing him to a contract now keeps him off the free agent market and gives him the inside track to a roster spot next season.
The Tarik Phillip signing follows the same logic, just with someone Wizards fans may not be as familiar with. He spent the season with the Grizzlies’ G-League affiliate, the Memphis Hustle. Unlike McRae, he was not on a two-way deal, which meant he was free to sign with the Wizards without working out a deal with the Grizzlies.
He averaged 13.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 3.8 assists while shooting 46.9 percent from the field, 40.1 percent on threes, and playing 29.1 minutes per game. He got better and better as the season went on, including a 48-point effort in late February against the Long Island Nets.
Tuesday’s signings lead to two important questions about this summer. First, what is the plan for Devin Robinson? It’s unclear if the Wizards tried to negotiate a deal with Robinson and just couldn’t work something out, or if they wanted to let him test restricted free agency. His performance over the final two games of the regular season will certainly boost his visibility as he gets ready to hit the open market this summer.
Secondly, does the fact that Interim President Tommy Sheppard got to make these two moves suggest anything about his chances of landing the permanent gig? It’s hard to say. It wouldn’t be surprising if there was some sort of handshake deal in place before Ernie Grunfeld left to give McRae a deal before the end of the season, but that couldn’t have been the case with Phillip. Clearly, Sheppard sees something there worth an extra look, but if someone else gets the job and goes in a different direction, they can undo both of these moves without absorbing dead money.