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January mailbag answers: Kristi Toliver’s salary and NBA trade deadline questions

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Here are the answers to our first mailbag in the 2020 calendar year.

LA Clippers v Washington Wizards
Let’s get to your questions for January’s mailbag!
Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

Thank you everyone for your questions. Our answers to selected questions below. Our next mailbag will be in mid-Feburary, soon after the NBA trade deadline. Thanks!


Does the new WNBA CBA do anything to fix the issue that prevents Kristi Toliver from being able to make a real assistant coach’s salary for her work with the Wizards? — Don Roritor, Twitter

Albert Lee — Thanks for the question. A copy of the new CBA is not publicly available yet and there doesn’t seem to be something specific in regard to a current player coaching on an NBA team like Toliver.

In the past CBA, teams only had a $50,000 discretionary marketing budget to use as an incentive to keep players stateside, which is really nothing. The Mystics have generally used most of that budget for Elena Delle Donne, while setting aside $10,000 to Toliver, as her coaching salary.

In the new CBA, teams will have $100,000 in marketing budget in the 2020 and 2021 seasons, then $150,000 in subsequent seasons. The WNBA also has a separate $1.6 million leaguewide marketing budget where one player could get up to $250,000. That is where my notion of a “supermax” came from.

The Mystics are owned by Monumental Sports, just like the Wizards. So my feeling is that the team’s and WNBA’s marketing budgets have to be used. I think she will ultimately get a fair WNBA/NBA combined salary, but that will require a combination of salary cap and discretionary budget gymnastics.

Who is a lock to be here next season besides Wall & Beal? (VBfan)

Yanir Rubinstein: I’d say the only one with certainty besides Wall and Beal is Scott Brooks... Regarding players, it’s really anyone’s guess, but anyone will tell you Rui Hachimura is staying and Thomas Bryant and Ish Smith are very likely to stay in D.C. as well.

The front office could move anyone else, literally, either in the trade deadline or this summer for the right return.

With Ian Mahinmi and Anzejs Pasecniks providing decent minutes, Thomas Bryant and Davis Bertans healthy, while Rui Hachimura and MoritzWagner are recovering ... how will the big man rotation play out? Is trading one of these players a possibility? (gavalon55)

Alan Jenkins — The center position is anyone’s guess. Now with AP rolling his ankle in practice, the only two options are Bryant and Mahinmi.

But for the sake of this argument, let’s say all four centers are healthy which is what I think you’re eluding to. Pretty soon, I think Bryant is going to replace Mahinmi in the starting lineup at the center spot.

Mahinmi and Wagner (when he’s healthy) will then share the backup minutes until Wagner is 100 percent. And he’ll eventually return to the full-time backup center ultimately making Mahinmi and AP the odd men out.

Outside of swapping Mahinmi’s contract for another expiring bad contract, I don’t think any of these guys really have much trade value as they’ve shown too many inconsistencies or have been unable to stay healthy this year.

Could Moritz Wagner succeed at the Power Forward position? (expatde)

Albert Lee — Yes, I believe so. Wagner has been out for several weeks due to an ankle injury, but he has proven to be a strong spark off the bench when healthy earlier this season. He’s averaging 11.6 points and 6.0 rebounds per game this season while shooting nearly 40 percent from the three-point line.

Albert, do you want to revise your answer in regard to Bonga’s recent play? (Alex Choi, email)

Albert Lee — I was quite brief in my response to your question last August. But I am pleasantly surprised that Bonga has remained a starter for Washington for much of the 2019-20 NBA season. He is also shooting 68.4 percent from the field and scoring 6.8 points per game this month. And for a team that is otherwise bad on defense, Bonga has a positive net rating of 7 points per 100 possessions played.

I still think Bonga is quite raw like last August. But Bonga’s ability to play well on defense is a major reason why he’s finding more time. Hopefully his offensive production will continue to improve.