The NBA is marching toward its season restart next month. And yesterday, teams began a seven-day transaction window to sign replacement players. The Washington Wizards are allowed to bring all 17 players on their roster, but they will effectively have just 15 with John Wall out for the season due to injury and Davis Bertans sitting out due to his upcoming free agency.
That gives the team an opportunity to sign at least one replacement player while they’re playing in Orlando, hoping to sneak into the eighth seed for the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Will the Wizards be an attractive option for free agents in this period?
No. They are the worst team in the Orlando bubble based on current record. So any free agent signing with Washington should know that he’s only there for eight games, barring the team going on an 8-0 streak or something.
That said, all 22 teams in the bubble will be out of basketball shape. If the Wizards’ younger legs can get them back in the groove sooner than some veteran teams, then things could be interesting.
What skills will the Wizards need with Bertans out?
Shooting and defense. Bertans made an average of 3.7 three pointers per game and making 42.4 percent of his threes overall. While it’s unrealistic for the Wizards to replace that level of production with one player, it’s logical that the Wizards will try to get someone with a reputation for making three points at a consistent level. Also, shooting doesn’t seem to be a skill that will diminish as quickly as speed and passing, so that’s something to consider.
The Wizards were already the worst team defensively heading into this, so
Who are some of the better-known free agents that could help?
- Lance Stephenson — Stephenson last played for the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2018-19 season and played for the Liaoning Flying Leopards in China’s CBA before the coronavirus pandemic unleashed its fury. He’s still just 29 years old and shot 37.1 percent from three in his last NBA season, even if he was underwhelming in the past. And defensively, Stephenson should be a good addition for a couple weeks. That said, it may not be surprising to see him go somewhere else.
- Ryan Anderson — Anderson played two games for the Houston Rockets this season before getting released. He isn’t the same player who was a major force on the New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans’ teams from 2012-16, but Anderson was a consistent three point shooter during his heyday, averaging nearly 40 percent from deep for most of his career.
- Gerald Green — The veteran swingman was hopeful to make a postseason return after suffering a foot injury in the preseason. He played for the Rockets before getting traded and waived by the Nuggets in February. Green averaged over two made three point shots per game in his last two NBA seasons with the Rockets though his efficiency was around 35-36 percent in those years.
If the Wizards can sign any of these three, they would be relative big splashes. However, we also have to keep in mind that the Wizards face the biggest hill to climb toward a playoff spot. Even if they make the playoffs, it’s unlikely that they’ll get past the first round. If a players is looking to win a championship this year, this isn’t the team for them to sign with.
However, if a player is looking to get some playing time and perhaps contribute to a “Final 16” playoff berth, it could help him get a leg up getting a contract for the 2020-21 NBA season this winter.