Washington Wizards: 3 potential targets in 2019 NBA free agency

Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images
Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images /
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Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images /

The financially challenged Washington Wizards let big-name free agents go, but they still have strong options on the 2019 NBA free agency market.

Anyone who follows the NBA knows the Washington Wizards are in an interesting, not to mention very restrictive, situation. Large contracts to the star guard duo of Bradley Beal and the injured John Wall will eat up a combined $65.2 million in the upcoming season.

Ian Mahinmi’s gargantuan $15.5 million puts the team’s salary at $80.7 million for just three players. The rest of the contracts on the books, excluding the reported signings of Ish Smith, Isaiah Thomas and Thomas Bryant (which do not become official until July 6) and and rookies Rui Hachimura and Admiral Schofield (who have not signed yet), total up to $103.3 million — just $5.8 million short of the NBA’s 2019-20 salary cap of $109.1 million.

Needless to say, the Wizards still need to fill their roster and will have to exceed the cap. However, they can stay below the $132.6 million tax level for the upcoming season and still acquire some talent.

While the rest of the NBA shoots their shots on one of the most star-studded free agent classes in recent history, the Wizards will have to stand pat and see if they can pick up small pieces who can make an impact by filling roles.

Stars are not within reach. Washington will likely not spend any more than $10 million per year on any one free agent in order to stay below the tax level. With just under $30 million in space before exceeding the tax level and 11 players officially under contract, they can make a couple impactful moves on some under-the-radar free agents.

The team could use a more traditional point guard who can direct traffic. Unlike Tomas Satoransky, who filled the role effectively last season but is not a great shooter and an adequate but not great ball-handler, the Wizards can use a 3-point threat and a fiery, energetic player to lead the second unit.

The Wizards have reportedly agreed to sign Ish Smith to a two-year, $12 million contract. The 30-year old from Wake Forest is the prototypical point guard: a small guy who gives his teammates open looks, can shoot the ball well and is a high-energy player on defense.

Smith fits well into the Wizards team because Washington does not have a real point guard on its roster without John Wall. He won’t pack much of a scoring punch, but he could start at the 1 next to Bradley Beal thanks to his skills as a distributor.

The Wizards have also reportedly signed Isaiah Thomas to a one-year deal worth the veteran minimum. While he is by no means a true point guard, Thomas will fill a much-needed bench scoring role and will relieve Beal, who led the league in minutes played, of the scoring duties. However, he needs a system that fits him.

A deal with the Wizards should benefit him by giving him ample playing time as the Wizards lose Tomas Satoransky. It will also greatly benefit the team if Thomas can get back to his 2016-17 All-Star form.

Washington could also be in the market for a taller wing player, much like a Trevor Ariza, who they will be heading to the Sacramento Kings in free agency. A 3-and-D role player would be useful to have coming off the bench.

Finally, they could use a big man, preferably a power forward, because Ian Mahinmi and Dwight Howard cannot be trusted to stay healthy and play consistent minutes. Thomas Bryant has agreed to an extension, but a little more depth is required.

The Wizards thought they had solved this problem, but Bobby Portis’ excellent post-trade deadline play turned him into a target for many other teams. They will not match his ridiculously high $16 million asking price, as he will reportedly sign a two-year, $31 million contract with the New York Knicks.

The players on this list were not Wizards at the end of last season and are all relatively cheap because of the team’s financial inflexibility.

With uncertainty in the coming seasons, the team should look toward the future and gamble on some players, much like they did with Portis and Jabari Parker at the trade deadline. Though their values are too high this offseason for the Wizards, they need to continue with that idea of finding diamonds in the rough — the players who have starter potential but still need to unlock it.

Most of the players on this list are not just rentals, but players who could potentially stick with the team for the next few years if they can prove themselves as role players. There are players to be re-signed who can help the team out, but here are some options from elsewhere in the league that should be both affordable and effective.