As of today, July 11th, the Wizards currently have 12 players under contract. The team made some smart moves yet equally head-scratching acquisitions all in a matter of days during the first week of free agency as the salary cap ballooned from $70 million to $94 million. As the roster slowly forms into fruition, did the Wizards do enough to be competitive in the east again?
Lets break it down.
Bradley Beal – The Wizards were pigeonholed here. Either give Bradley Beal a maximum deal or let him test the waters of unrestricted free agency. The team chose the former in signing Beal to a five-year deal worth $128 million dollars. At first, this looked horrible. But then the Raptors signed DeMar DeRozan to a five-year deal worth $145 million which made Beal’s contract a little bit easier to comprehend.
Regardless, giving a max deal to a player who hasn’t played a full NBA season in his four-year career is already giving the Wizards’ faithful heartburn. Beal oozes potential but has already endured a laundry list of injuries. It wouldn’t be a bad idea for Ted Leonsis and Ernie Grunfeld to have a defibrillator handy for every time Beal falls to the floor. With that said, the Wizards had no other option.
Even with his injuries, Beal has improved his game year-after-year and averaged a career-high 17.4 points this past season while shooting 44.9 percent from the field. Once deemed a knockdown shooter, Beal has added to his offensive repertoire and is now able to create his own shot and attack the hole.
As mentioned, the Wizards had no option but to offer Beal the max as word around the NBA was that several teams were going to offer him a max deal if the team didn’t. For this upcoming season to be deemed a success, he has to play in at least 70 games, average 20+ points and shoot at least 80 percent from the free-thrown line. Then again, if he gets injured; we’re going to look back and add this contract to the list of max deals gone wrong (Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison).
Ian Mahinmi – Mahinmi picked the best season of his career to post career-highs. Mahinmi averaged 9.3 points and 7.1 rebounds for the Pacers last season. And he cashed in as a result to the tone of $64 million dollars over four years. Not too shabby for starting center about to turn backup center.
Mahinmi has range that stretches 15 feet but does most of his damage around the rim and in the 5-9 foot range. His game is very similar to Gortat’s in that he’s most effective rolling to the hole but can also step back and knock down a jumper.
On the defensive end, he can serve as somewhat of a rim protector evidenced by his 1.1 blocks per game in just 25 minutes of play. Those numbers won’t jump out at you but were quietly better than guys like Steven Adams, Kenneth Farried and LaMarcus Aldridge.
The only downside? Since he goes for a lot of blocks, he has a knack for getting dunked on.
Trey Burke – Burke technically wasn’t a free agent however the Wizards traded a future second round pick for the backup point guard. After starting 111 games in his first two seasons, Burke was demoted to a reserve role and didn’t start a game for the Jazz during the 2015-2016 season. As expected, his stats dipped a bit as he averaged 10.6 points in just 21.3 minutes of play. In addition, he notched just 2.3 assists per game and 3.9 assists per 36 minutes. That puts him in the company of players like O.J. Mayo, Jerryd Bayless and Kirk Hinrich.
Burke can be an asset off the bench but needs to focus on setting players up more. Ramon Sessions was a score first point guard and as a result, the Wizards’ second unit often struggled to score last season as the ball would get stuck in the post with little to no ball movement if they couldn’t score in transition.
It’s essential that Burke sets up his teammates and focuses on pushing the ball when John Wall is resting. Burke hasn’t lived up to the hype of a top-10 pick; but trading a future second round pick for his $3.3 million per year contract (rookie contract) is a very low risk move for the front office.
Tomas Satoransky – After four years, the Wizards are finally bringing over Tomas Satoransky who they drafted in 2012 but has been playing for FC Barcelona ever since. The Wizards are paying Satoransky just $9 million over three years. A very good value contract on somewhat of an unknown talent.
Satoransky is a combo guard but is more comfortable with the ball in his hands. At 6’7″ he stands tall for a point guard and can pose as a potential mismatch against the other team’s reserve point guard. Satoransky’s ceiling is that of an average role player in the NBA. But since the team is paying him just $3 million per year; there’s not a whole lot to complain about here.
Andrew Nicholson – The Wizards signed restricted free agent Nicholson to a four-year $26 million dollar deal as the Orlando Magic opted not to re-sign the big man. The Wizards overpaid for Nicholson. No other teams reportedly were interested except the Wizards so the Wizards held the cards yet opted not to play hardball.
Regardless, Nicholson will serve as the primary backup for Markieff Morris. Nicholson is best around the hole but has range that stretches out to the three-point line. In a league predicated on efficiency, Nicholson has a very effective field goal percentage for shots between 20-24 feet, aka long two’s. The least efficient shot in basketball. Interestingly, that number dips to 34.6 percent for mid-range jumpers.
The bottom line is, Nicholson is best around the rim but also makes the defense respect his shot. He should be serviceable for the Wizards it’s just I think they could have gotten away with paying him much less money.
Jason Smith – Let me start this out with the grade….. F. As in what the F. The Wizards used a majority of their remaining cap space to sign Smith to a three-year $16 million dollar deal. To put things in perspective, Jared Sullinger, a much better player, signed a one-year $6 million dollar deal.
The Wizards wasted their remaining cap space on a player who’ll receive minimal to no minutes this season. You can’t spin this signing in a positive way.
Final Grade: C+
The Wizards had an OK offseason. They went all in on Kevin Durant and whiffed but were able to salvage the offseason by signing several serviceable players. They overpaid for three players (Beal, Mahinmi, Smith) but were able to sign guys like Trey Burke and Tomas Satoransky on very reasonable contracts.
The Wizards had a very ho-hum free agency. No home runs yet didn’t make any egregious errors either. Sounds like your standard Washington Wizards offseason.