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August Mailbag: Your Wizards and Mystics questions

Which Wizards players could get traded next year. And what will the Mystics need to get back into Finals contention in 2023?

Seattle Storm v Washington Mystics
The Wizards starting point guard is about to give a hug to the Storm’s starting point guard as you can see here.
Photo by KeShawn Ennis/NBAE via Getty Images

Thank you for submitting your questions for this month’s mailbag. My answers are below.

Why did the Wizards draft Cassius Winston not long ago? Now he’s playing overseas. - GreatWallofWizards

Last month, Winston signed with Bayern Munich of the German Basketball Bundesliga. Yes, it’s owned by the same organization with the soccer team. That said, he was a late second round pick in 2020. Most late second round picks won’t last that long in the NBA.

With Bradley Beal taking up 35% of the entire team’s soft salary cap, how are the Wizards going to get All-Stars to play with him? If Kristaps Porzingis balls out, are you going to pay him 30+% of the teams salary? If Kyle Kuzma has a great year, are you going to pay him 20-30+% of the team’s salary? - jmpalomo

The Wizards traded for Porzingis and Kuzma and the Wizards may sign them for a bigger contract if they do well this season. They will likely have to trade one of them to get a different All-Star player. They don’t have the cap space to sign anyone outright. That or hoping that Rui Hachimura or Deni Avdija get there next season.

Given the makeup of the Wizards roster—both in terms of talent and contracts—it seems likely there’ll be some trade deadline shuffling, like there was last season. Who are the top candidates to stay/go?

The top candidates to get traded away is some combination of Will Barton and Kyle Kuzma. They have expiring contracts (or a player option in Kuz’s case). Rui Hachimura is also entering the last season of his expiring contract. Some combination of the three could be used to acquire an All-Star player if the Wizards have a strong season. Barton and Kuz could also be traded in case the Wizards play poorly next season and decide to reshuffle the pieces around Beal.

Bring back Pradamaster for a conversation about why Seattle was such a matchup problem for the Mystics, and what they can do about it next year. - Bulletime

Let me see what I can do, but Mike is now an editor for The Athletic. I’m not privy to how their employment agreements are, but I’d imagine that he can’t write for other outlets. That said, we can do an analysis on that.

What do the Mystics need most to get them over the hump? Emma Meesseman is missed. But interestingly, she hasn’t had the same impact in Chicago as she had here. I know they couldn’t keep everyone, but they would have had so much more ammo if they had EM and Aerial Powers this year. - KappaKid II

The Mystics need to acquire a sixth woman bench scorer from any position. They also need to improve their three point efficiency which was 33.8 percent in the 2022 season. It was great to see that the Mystics had the WNBA’s best defense in the regular season. However, their offense never gelled.

As for Meesseman and Powers, it’s not like Powers has led the Lynx to a dominant playoff run since signing with them, though she averaged 14.4 points per game in a lottery-bound season.

I disagree that Meesseman had less of an impact on the Sky this season than during her time in D.C. She has never been a player who embraced the role of scoring aggressively, like Delle Donne and is one of the best off-ball players in the league given her ability to take advantage of open space. Her stats were 12.8 points and 5.5 rebounds this season with the Sky, but she made 57.8 percent of her shots and had a total of 5.6 win shares this season, higher than Candace Parker or Kahleah Copper.

The Sky are the deepest WNBA team this season, and James Wade was one of Meesseman’s assistant coaches with UMMC Ekaterinburg in recent seasons. Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley played with Meesseman too at UMMC. So I think Meesseman is playing her ideal role as a multidimensional player who doesn’t require the ball to be effective, and it showed this season.

Anybody else, other than me, think that with a little more seasoning, Jaime Echenique will catch on with someone else and become a serviceable backup?

Quite possibly! He averaged a double double in the G-League last season for the Go-Go, and it should help him get a chance on a team at some point this season.

Do you like the return of the old jerseys? — MODDERNO!?

You can write your own article Matt! (Okay, okay.)

For me, I don’t mind the return of those jerseys. While the Wizards wear red, white and blue now, they can’t ignore their original colors, so this isn’t a bad thing to me.

When will the NBA replace human referees with infallible robots that have cameras and sensors that see and hear everything, and make the right calls every time?

I typed up “Robot referees” and found this 2020 link on PSU Vanguard. There is some AI or robot technology in basketball like SportVU, which tracks player movement. I would say that we are still years away from this in practice. But the rules of basketball may be changed soon because referees will count every foul and players will likely foul out more.

Thanks so much for your questions and our next mailing is in September when the Wizards’ training camp starts!