Last Sunday, I asked you to comment or email me questions on the Wizards and Mystics for a mailbag. This is so we can answer your direct questions on where we think the teams are going.
We received a lot of questions and our team came back with the answers. I originally asked everyone to answer in a paragraph. But I get that sometimes, it takes more than just 100 words to explain a point.
Ultimately, I decided to break up our mailbag into several parts. In this part, we answer your questions on Scott Brooks, Bradley Beal trade rumors and Tomas Satoransky’s free agency.
If you don’t see your question here, don’t worry. It’s probably in our subsequent parts. Thanks!
Dale (email): I do not believe the Wizards are as bad as their terrible record. I think they have more talent than given credit for. In my opinion, the problem is the coach [Scott Brooks]. Why is no one mentioning this??
Ben Mehic: Dale — my friend. First off, thanks for sending this question. Assuming the team declines Jabari Parker’s $20 million team option, the Wizards will have five healthy players: Bradley Beal, Troy Brown, Ian Mahinmi, Jordan McRae and Tarik Phillip.
John Wall has a torn Achilles and there’s a chance he misses the entire season. Dwight Howard is, well, apparently still on the team. He’s in the same boat as Ian Mahinmi — the boat named “Why the hell is he still on the team?” That leaves us with ... not much talent.
You can have Red Auerbach as the head coach and Gregg Popovich as the lead assistant and you will still have a losing record with what the Wizards have and what they worked with this past season.
Make no mistake about it — Scott Brooks isn’t flawless or blameless. He’s failed to construct a working offense, even with a healthy Wall and Beal and his rotations have been mind-boggling (see: giving Ron Baker time over Brown). Plenty of people have mentioned it, too.
It’s quite clear when watching the Wizards that they lack cohesion — and some of that is attributable to Brooks, but most of it is definitely because the Wizards are trotting out not-so-good pros.
It’s tough to win with a bad roster. The secret to success in the NBA isn’t a secret. Winning teams are deep with talent and they have a coach who knows how to utilize everyone on the roster. When you don’t have the talent, though, the person calling the plays becomes rather inconsequential.
Hervey (email): What should the Wizards demand in a Bradley Beal trade? I would trade Beal to the Pelicans for the three first round draft picks that the Pelicans received from the Lakers in the Davis trade plus one starting player. Comments?
Osman Baig: The Wizards should be very selective in their demands for Brad. For one, they don’t have to do anything at this point in time so they are not forced to negotiate from of a position of weakness. Based on how the Wizards tried to push for the playoffs last season, they would not be bluffing to say they are content holding on to Brad for another 12 months as the situation with the roster around him evolves.
If I was negotiating the trade, I would want as many lottery picks as possible. If the Wizards can get an ascending young talent, that’s great but it would be better if that player was earlier in their rookie contract. Jayson Tatum for example would be enticing because he has two years left on his rookie contract before being eligible for restricted free agency.
Brandon Ingram is less enticing in my opinion because he is extension eligible this summer and will be a restricted free agent next summer if an agreement isn’t reached. Pushing any big money commitments as far out as possible would be priority one and lottery picks/rookie contracts allow for that.
I saw an interesting hypothetical trade where Beal ended up in New Orleans, Lonzo Ball ended up in Phoenix and Washington received picks 4 and 6. I wouldn’t trade Beal for the two picks alone but this is the type of framework I would target. This hypothetical would give Washington three lottery picks to go along with Thomas Bryant and Troy Brown Jr. as building blocks.
The lottery picks would be on their rookie contracts through the life of Wall’s Supermax contract. The ’19-’20 season would look bleak, but the Wizards would be set up for another high lottery pick next June. Getting a young role player like Josh Hart and replenishing their traded second round picks would also be a goal.
They would also be able to leverage the massive trade exception they would receive by not taking back salary in a Beal trade. As we’ve seen teams like Brooklyn and Atlanta do, that cap space can easily be leveraged into additional draft compensation.
Laska (Comments): Will Tomas Satoransky be retained by the Wiz? If so, for how much and how long a contract? Will there be a competition for him (offer sheet)?
Ben: This question might be answered on Thursday during the NBA Drarft. Depending on whom the Wizards draft, it might be time to move on from Tomas Satoransky. If the team somehow snags UNC’s Coby White — a scoring guard who won’t need to rely a ton on others (i.e. Beal) to get his shot — then Satoransky’s services may no longer be needed.
Another interest thing about this is, Tommy Sheppard was influential in bringing over a lot of the team’s international prospects, including Satoransky. If Sheppard wasn’t running the team, there would probably be a stronger chance Satoransky wears a different jersey next season. But with Sheppard still calling the shots, he might look to retain him. Ultimately, though, it might come down to a price.
Last season, Satoransky made about $3.9 million and the team expressed interest in re-signing him by initiating extension talks (which obviously didn’t result in a new deal). I’d guess that Satoransky’s salary will be upward of $6-7 million per year, which is doable and relatively affordable, given that he’s just 27, has finally found his confidence playing in the NBA and has shown real growth in his game.
Satoransky is also ultra-competitive, so he might want to say goodbye to the Wizards and sign elsewhere — like the Los Angeles Lakers, for instance, who need to fill out their roster.
I don’t think it’s a guarantee Satoransky returns to D.C., even if he’s offered a new contract. Luckily, there’s plenty of options — like T.J. McConnell, Darren Collison, Isaiah Thomas, Derrick Rose (sorry — none of these are particularly appealing) — to replace Satoransky if he does choose to leave.
Gavalon55 (Comments): Despite the rumors of the Wizards wavering on trading Beal... will he be in more demand with the recent injuries and trades that happened before the start of the FA period?
Marcus Atkinson, Sr.: Yes he will. That’s why you are seeing so many rumors swirling already. With the Wizards in the state that they are in right now both financially and talent wise, the presumption is they will be sellers so naturally Bradley Beal is their most attractive asset. But also consider this, according to spotrac.com, Nine teams have at least $30 million in cap space and two of those teams have $60+ million in cap space. Everybody isn’t going to get a “max” worthy player in free agency and then if players like Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Kemba Walker or Kawhi Leonard, just to name a few, decide to stay put where they are at, you will have all of these teams with all this cap space and very little options to add stars, so what else will they do?
With Beal, you get a young, budding shooting guard with two years left on his contract. You can get him without worrying about overpaying him and on the flip side you would help the Wizards out by absorbing his contract and getting them out of their own cap problems. Because some teams at that point may be willing to pay a premium to get him, the question is, at what point, if at all, will the Wizards give in and trade him?