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April Mailbag: Is Gafford tradable and should Beal’s next contract be incentive-laden?

Thank you for your questions in this month’s mailbag!

New York Knicks v Washington Wizards
Daniel Gafford could be a trade chip next year given that his contract extension won’t kick in until 2023-24.
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Thanks for your questions for this month’s mailbag! I’m answering all the questions given my procrastination this month. Let’s go!

Since Kristaps Porzingis will be fully healthy next season, Daniel Gafford’s presence on defense will only be felt on 2nd unit opponents. So my question is, what if the Wizards trade Gafford and find a cheaper replacement before his next extension kicks in? (GreatWallofWizards)

I’d say that Gafford is a long-term piece by default and he is a hedge against KP. Remember that KP has missed significant portions of multiple NBA seasons including this past one, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him miss another 20 games in 2022-23. Gaff is also just entering is age 24 season this fall, so he still has room to grow as a defender who also stays out of foul trouble.

Can Bradley Beal play next to a combo-guard type player? The Wizards have tried to play him next to Dinwiddie, Holiday, Neto…etc, to unsatisfactory results. I ask because many of the guards available in the draft, free agency, and trades are not true lead guards. Will Beal’s backcourt mate need to be a “Point” guard? (DonutBuckets)

We have seen Beal play one year next to Russell Westbrook in 2020-21, who is another one of these combo guards. But Westbrook was an elite combo guard who averaged over 11 assists a game in Washington.

At this point, it appears that Beal and his game as a high usage scorer is best suited to play alongside a point guard who is a lower usage setup man given how his game has evolved in the last four-five seasons.

How much do you think Rui Hachimura would be worth in a trade? The Wizards exercised his $6,263,188 option for 2022-23, he is a pretty good scoring forward, and the Wizards would seem to have too many forwards who will merit playing time in 2022-23, so I think Hachimura could be (in terms of playing NBA basketball games, not in terms of international marketing) worth more to another NBA team than he would be worth to the Wizards next season. Do you agree with that statement?

I agree. Hachimura would be worth more to some teams than he is to the Wizards because if a team has a glut of rotation quality forwards like Washington, there will also be teams that have a lack of talent at forward. For example, the Orlando Magic could value a starting caliber power forward like Hachimura to team up with Franz Wagner and Cole Anthony. But the Wizards can’t get back a first round pick from Orlando for Hachimura alone, though.

Should the Wizards offer Bradley Beal a partially guaranteed supermax deal, which is incentive-laden based on how far the Wizards make the playoffs? (SkullDog)

Boston Celtics center Robert Williams recently had an extension that included bonuses for a deep playoff run (Eastern Conference Finals or better), but they are only worth about $1.3 to $1.6 million per season if he reaches them. He is making at least $10.7 million per year in guaranteed money, so these bonuses are roughly 10-15 percent of his potential earnings.

It’s not a bad idea for Beal to get a supermax contract assuming he hits playoff-run based incentives. However, to say that he is only guaranteed $25 million and can earn a bonus of $7 million (or 33 percent) for getting the Wizards on a deep playoff run, also seems unlikely to me.

Two questions. My first question is that we all know the Wizards need a true point guard so why do they keep drafting forwards? Second, for the Mystics for the last three years, their draft picks has been getting injured what are they doing to address this issue? (Thomas Cheek)

Thanks for the question. For the Wizards, drafting is based on position and which players are available at any given time, whether it’s the draft pool or free agency. If the player with the most potential is a forward, even if the Wizards need a point guard, it’s fine to select that forward. Perhaps another move can be made to bring in a point guard via free agency or another trade.

Regarding your Mystics question, the Mystics just had bad luck with their injuries. Christyn Williams was the most recent draft pick to get injured. But Shakira Austin, their first round pick, has been healthy throughout. Washington is banking on the veterans for their success, so it’s not like they are heavily dependent on youth at this time. That said, the Mystics must keep an eye on the future now given that their veterans are generally older players.

What sense does it make to sign Bradley Beal to a supermax contract and then have no money to add other players? This team as currently constructed cannot compete with teams currently in the playoffs! (Stephen Weaver)

Stephen (or is it Steve?). I agree with you 100 percent. It doesn’t make sense to sign Beal to a supermax because they don’t have the talent to compete with a much more competitive Eastern Conference.

That said, the Wizards appear to be persistent in having an All-Star caliber talent on their team for the short term. Beal is also looking to have at least one more big contract. A supermax (or a near supermax) seems to be inevitable. Given that teams outside the Top 8 of the Eastern and Western Conferences made the Round of 16 in the NBA Playoffs this season, the goal posts have been moved somewhat. So from a positional standpoint, it is “easier” for the Wizards, or any other team, to make the postseason. That said, this season was a very competitive one in the Eastern Conference.

Do you think the Wizards should trade the pick and a player for a starting point guard unless it’s a top-five pick? (Robert Brown)

They should strongly consider it. I also think that given how Beal’s game has changed (from a spot-up shooter to a volume scorer), that starting point guard must be more of a distributor as opposed to a combo-guard type of scorer. Unless he is elite at passing and scoring numbers like Russell Westbrook of course.

Do you believe the Wiz low-key showcasing Porzingis when they kept playing him in games that didn’t matter? If they are shopping him, what would he be able to bring back? (Alex Choi)

For now, the Wizards are not going to trade KP like Spencer Dinwiddie, unless there is some sudden breakdown on the court and even in the locker room. I doubt they were showcasing KP for a trade in games that didn’t matter. Rather, the Wizards were likely playing him so they can showcase him to fans that there is promise for the Wizards next season once Beal is back from his wrist injury.

On the note regarding the wrist injury, Beal is still often in a sling. He attended the Mystics’ preseason game against the Lynx last Wednesday and it’s clear that he’s still not 100 percent yet from a rehab perspective.

Thanks again, and I promise we’ll have another mailbag in the next couple weeks so I reset my procrastinating self!