Yesterday, I wrote about wing players who could be fits for the Washington Wizards with the midlevel exception. Today, I’ll focus on a second group of wing players who could be options at salaries well below the MLE, namely the bi-annual exception and the veteran’s minimum.
Who are the types of players who could get these types of salaries? Some are targets because they are older veterans who would like to be “sages of wisdom” on a rising team. Others are younger players who are promising yet inconsistent. And some others may have perceived character issues.
Of the players I will write about today, some would likely project to earn the bi-Annual Exception (BAE) which would pay them up to $3.8M-$4M per year up to two years. Only a few players signed for this last year, Stanley Johnson and Boban Marjanovic, as it can only be used every other year. We’ll also look at players who could fall into the veteran’s minimum range.
Wings for the BAE - Younger Players
This would be a big swing by the Wizards front office. Jackson was a disaster in Phoenix and was playing the majority of this season with the G-League team for the Grizzlies. He’s had off the court incidents and did not produce on the court in either of his first two seasons in Phoenix with the Suns. This year that part turned around.
Since entering the Grizzlies rotation following injuries, he has shined. Through 5 games in March (yes a very small sample size) he averaged 16.6 points and shot well. He’s known as a good defender, has carried a good assist rate through his career and may have taken a step forward shooting the ball this year.
Also, Jackson just turned 23 and was thought of highly enough to be taken as the #4 overall pick just 3 years ago. More likely than not, he remains in Memphis but he’d be a potential fit with the Wizards and the reward could be great, though the risk is just about as high.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson & Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Both are excellent defenders. MKG & RHJ have each had a lot of trouble the past year or two with staying in a rotation and providing value outside of defense, though. RHJ has been a solid contributor for the Raptors this year but had to accept a veteran’s minimum deal to play there and MKG was bought out by the Hornets this year, showing how far he has fallen in the league. The athleticism and defense are great,, but if they can’t hit an open spot-up 3 then the fit might not be there. These guys have each proven enough to earn more than a minimum-contract though, most likely.
A role player who’d be coming off the bench, Connaughton has been a part of the Bucks rotation for two years now and has done a good job there providing energy and reliability. He won’t be the answer at small forward but could be part of a group that fills the minutes there.
The Bucks are up against the luxury tax and don’t have much wiggle room so the odds are good that the BAE would be enough to bring him to D.C. He’d be a guy to compete and fill in as needed as a bench player though as a part of a rotation and not a mainstay.
Wings for the BAE - Older Players
A top-notch defender, one of the best in the NBA. But he also has a ton of difficulty shooting from outside of the paint. Craig is late to the NBA, but has shown a bit more as a shooter than RHJ or MKG, but hasn’t been able to fill the void at the 3 for Denver, instead filling in as needed as a defensive specialist.
Holiday settled for a one year, $4.7 million deal this past season to play with the Indiana Pacers and just turned 31.
He’s a solid shooter, quality defender, and brings decent athleticism. He wouldn’t be an exciting addition but he’s cut his teeth on some rough teams the past few years and then fit in really well with the Pacers providing Indiana good minutes. His 3&D fit would work well and he’d be an acceptable stopgap when paired with Troy Brown Jr. and Isaac Bonga at the 3.
Another player who will be 31 next year, Bazemore would be a contingency plan. He’s undersized for the 3 but has been playing rotation minutes for the last 5 years and though he underwhelms a little as a 3-point shooter he is a good defender and fits in really well wherever he goes.
Bazemore has shown enough to likely earn over the minimum next year and has earned good reviews for his short stint in Sacramento thus far. He’s a journeyman wing who could defend the perimeter forwards better than other options the Wizards have trotted out there this past year and he’s a good vet to have around.
Much like his teammate Glenn Robinson III in Golden State & Philadelphia, Burks is a non-bird rights free agent. Unlike him, he is more of a shooting guard than a small forward but at 6-6 could be a scoring wing for the Wizards.
Burks has had major injury concerns throughout his career and had to settle for a veterans minimum this past year but had a good season. He’s a competent offensive player and there are worse defenders in the league, but he’d ideally be coming off the bench.
Much older than an ideal signing, but a longtime contributor who can also hit the 3. Williams is likely looking to join a title contender this offseason but could help out for sure with defense and shooting.
Wings for the Veterans Minimum
James Ennis III & Solomon Hill
Both are defensive-minded players who have had their moments in the NBA and are at the tail-end of their careers. They’ve both shown that they can shoot it just enough from 3, but they have left teams wanting more. They would each defend capably on the wing and could be cheap stopgap types. Ennis is more perimeter-oriented than Hill but each of them are solid athletes and could fill a gap if the Wizards strikeout in the draft and on higher-profile free agents.
Semi Ojeleye, Sterling Brown, Treveon Graham, DeAndre’ Bembry
Ojeleye’s defense is elite and he could help against the bigger wings who have given the Wizards so much trouble. He did show more signs of being a better offensive player in college but that hasn’t translated in Boston.
Brown has earned minutes at times in Milwaukee but his offense has held him back. He’s more of a shooting guard but he’d fit well as a defender and athlete and like the other options, is still young with potential.
The front office showed interest in Graham a couple of years ago and if he can shoot as he has a few times in the league he’d be a good buy-low bargain. Bembry is similar but has shown no ability to shoot from outside in the league despite other redeeming qualities.
Allen Crabbe, Denzel Valentine, Wesley Iwundu
Crabbe had a really bad season but is a career 38.7 percent three-point shooter and has averaged 9 points per game through his career and just turned 28. He’s had injury concerns and slumped this season but he’d be a good bounce-back candidate. He’d likely only receive a minimum offer due to his defense.
Valentine has had his moments in the league but ankle injuries have stunted his growth and have left him as a longshot to return in Chicago. He also struggles defensively but in his lone healthy and full season in 2017-2018 he averaged over 10 points, 38 percent from three and 3 assists per game.
Iwundu is a good defender and has filled in starting games for the Magic over the past few years but hasn’t progressed too much in three NBA seasons. He’d be a defense-only choice.
In conclusion, the options aren’t the best this offseason for a team that has a need at the small forward spot. Let’s hope the draft turns out well for the Wizards and they can add a contributor there, but if they don’t, look for one of these players to join the team. Leave a comment to let us know who you would hope for!