Wizards Free Agency / Salary Cap Primer: It’s All About John Wall’s Backup (& Martell Webster)
[UPDATE: The Wizards have agreed to a deal with Eric Maynor, more to come…]There is much left to fall in place for the Washington Wizards over this summer, but not as much as you might expect. If things go according to current plan, the roster, with the exception of one single spot, is all but set. Otto Porter is nice; Martell Webster probably has a price; John Wall wants a max; and Trevor Ariza will officially be back, as will Emeka Okafor, who will not opt-out of the final year of his contract with little fanfare. Including their two 2013 draft picks, Washington is likely committed to the 11 players below at the following salaries for 2013-14 (salary data via Sham Sports).
- John Wall – $7,459,925
- Bradley Beal – $4,319,280
- Glen Rice Jr. – $490,180
- Trevor Ariza – $7,727,280
- Otto Porter – $3,565,000
- Chris Singleton – $1,618,680
- Jan Vesely – $3,340,920
- Trevor Booker – $2,350,820
- Kevin Seraphin – $2,761,114
- Nene Hilario – $13,000,000
- Emeka Okafor – $14,487,500
- NOTED: Andray Blatche is still “on the books” (but off the cap) for Washington over the next two seasons. If a team signs Blatche for the minimum, like Brooklyn did last year and might do again this year, the Wizards would still be paying around $7 million of Blatche’s 2013-14 salary. As the Wizards try to penny-pinch in any way that they can, keep this in mind.
The salaries of these 11 players total around $61.122 million. The 2013-14 salary cap is projected to be around $58.5 million, an increase from $58.044 million last season. So technically, the Wizards are already over the salary cap. If the luxury tax threshold ends up projecting out at around $70.86 million (it was $70,307,000 last season), then the Wizards would be around $9.7 million from being a tax payor, but these calculations do not account for the various cap holds built into the system. According to Sham Sports, the Wizards’ total 2013-14 salary, including cap holds and options, is currently $70,026,699 million. According to StoryTellerContracts.info, Washington’s current salary and caps holds amount to $69,084,863, and the team salary for tax purposes is $57,065,519. The cap hold number is this high ($69-70 million) for a variety of reasons; the fact that the Wizards have yet to renounce the rights to Jason Collins and Leandro Barbosa, both not expected to be on the team next season, is one of them.
Re-signing Martell Webster would bring the Wizards’ roster to 12. Webster is currently in Washington, D.C. and says that he’s receiving treatment from the Wizards’ training staff, reports CSN Washington’s Ben Standig; Webster had a minor, routine procedure earlier summer due to his sports hernia. There are also reports that he is meeting with Ernie Grunfeld to discuss his contract situation; Washington could make an offer as early as today, per Yahoo!’s Marc J. Spears. If the Wizards offer Webster their full mid-level exception (MLE), you’re looking at a contract worth around $5.15 million in year one. One option on this path would be paying Webster $22 million over four years, signed through 2016-17. In order to give Webster flexibility and peace of mind, Washington could offer a player option for year four. But giving Webster the full MLE, and a four-year deal at that, seems like an improbability. [UPDATE: Or not, because that’s what Webster got–4-years, $22 million, per reports; Yahoo!’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the fourth year has a partial guarantee.]
One thing to keep in mind with Webster as it applies to the respective presences of Otto Porter and Trevor Ariza: signing Webster makes Ariza a potential trade chip at the 2014 deadline, even if team visionaries would deem such a move unideal. Because if Ariza, the team’s best defender, is on his game, the Wizards won’t want to trade him, unless a desperate, losing situation arises—either on the part of the Wizards or another team. People also wonder if the presence of Glen Rice, Jr. affects Martell Webster. Please… a second-round pick? Rice only replaces Cartier Martin on the roster.
Garrett Temple, whom the Wizards would like to bring back, would presumably make 13. There should be no issue amongst fans with Washington retaining a diverse guard who is respected in the locker room and sets an example with tough defense. The Washington Post’s Michael Lee reports that the Wizards can sign Temple for “as much as 120 percent of his veteran minimum contract (about $916,000 for a player with three years of NBA experience).” Yahoo!’s Marc Spears is also reporting that the Wizards have been in contact with Antawn Jamison about a return to Washington—this seems highly unlikely, but never say never.
All of this said, if the Wizards were to use their full MLE on Webster, they would likely hardcap themselves and would not have the ability to use the Bi-Annual Exception (BAE) to pursue a backup point guard to John Wall. [<—UPDATE: This seems not to be the case, as Webster has been given the full MLE and Eric Maynor the full BAE, per reports.] The BAE, should Washington maintain the ability to use it, would be for around $2.016 million in season one (2-years, $4.12 million at most). NBA.com’s David Aldridge has reported via Twitter: “Do not believe WAS would use full MLE on Webster, but a good chunk of it.”
Either Ted Leonsis is going to have to spend a lot more money to best set his team up for the playoffs, or the Wizards will have to bite the bullet and go the cheap route, opting not to bring back Webster. More ideally, from Washington’s perspective, they’d ink Webster to a contract for around three-years and $10 million. But will that be enough to keep one of the NBA’s better 3-point shooters last season on the roster?
Give John Wall an extension? Under “max” rules, the Wizards could pay Wall around $14.6 million in the first year of his extension (25% of the cap, estimated to be $58.5 million), which would be in 2014-15. [Update/Note: Wall will still get paid $7.46 million for the fourth year of his rookie contract in 2013-14]. If the Wizards designate Wall as their five-year max guy, they could pay him upwards of $85 million over five seasons. If not, the ceiling of a four-year contract could be around $65 million. If the Wizards and Wall find a middle ground between the extension given to Ty Lawson in October 2012 (4-years, $48 million) and the one Kevin Love got in January 2012 (4-years, $60.8 million), people might not complain too much. Would you give Wall four years and $55 million? Four years and $60 million? Of course, in this scenario, like Love, Wall’s agent may request a player opt-out after three years. That wouldn’t exactly be good for the Wizards.
James Harden turned down a four-year, $52 million extension offer from the Oklahoma City Thunder in October 2012; Harden wanted four-years and $60 million. Soon thereafter he got a five-year, $80 million extension from the Houston Rockets in a sign-and-trade.
Dan Fegan’s asking price for Wall will be very high. That request and where the team would like to be are probably far off at this point. The question will be how long it will take to reach a middle ground, if they do at all.
With last season crashing in the absence of John Wall, finding his backup could be Ernie Grunfeld’s most important move this summer. Per the Washington Post’s Michael Lee, the Wizards are interested in the services of free agents Eric Maynor, Beno Udrih and John Lucas III; the return of A.J. Price could also be an option.
Below is a breakdown of those four free agent options, and a couple others who have been mentioned—Will Bynum, D.J, Augustin, Aaron Brooks, and Darren Collison—focusing on the following statistical measurements:
- 3-Point Percentage
- Effective Field Goal Percentage: Effective Field Goal Percentage; the formula is (FG + 0.5 * 3P) / FGA. This statistic adjusts for the fact that a 3-point field goal is worth one more point than a 2-point field goal.
- OffRtg: points team scores per 100 possessions when on the floor
- DefRtg: points team allows per 100 possessions when on the floor
- PIE (Player Impact Estimate): measures a player’s overall statistical contribution against the total statistics in games they play in. PIE is calculated based on player and game statistics only when a player is on the floor.
> Eric Maynor…
…was once a genius move by the Oklahoma City Thunder. They traded for the promising 6-foot-3, 2009 first-round draft pick (20th overall, by the Jazz) helped by their ability to take on the retiring contract of Matt Harpring, allowing Utah to avoid being luxury tax payers. Maynor played in all 82 games as an NBA soph with Oklahoma City, seeing 1,200 minutes and fielding a PER of 11.7, 38.5 percent from 3-point territory, 30.9 AST% (assist percetinage), 18.4 TOV%, and 5.8 TRB%. But early on in the 2011-12 season Maynor tore his right ACL; he only played in nine games. In 2012-13, sub par play and the emergence of Reggie Jackson for the Thunder made Maynor expendable. He was traded to Portland for the rights to Georgios Printezis and a trade exception. If Maynor can continue to show recovery from the ACL tear, he could be a balanced option for the Wizards that could really pay off down the road.
In 37 games with the Thunder, Maynor’s numbers dropped:
7.5 PER, .326 3P%, .378 eFG%, 26.8 AST%, 20.0 TOV%, 2.6 TRB%.
OffRtg: 105.2, DefRtg: 101.7, PIE: 5.4%
In 27 games with Portland, those numbers improved to a degree:
10.6 PER, .380 3P%, .479 eFG%, 30.0 AST%, 20.7 TOV%, 2.8 TRB%
OffRtg: 105.1, DefRtg: 113.0, PIE: 6.5%
> Beno Udrih…
…is a 9-year NBA veteran and—you guessed it—a former disciple of the San Antonio Spurs organization, winning titles with them in 2005 and 2007. He was taken 28th overall by the Spurs in 2004 and spent three years with them. After a down third season, and prior to the 2007-08 season, the Spurs traded Udrih to the Minnesota Timberwolves for a second round pick they never received. Tim Varner of 48 Minutes of Hell writes:
Spurs historians take note: Buford and company traded Beno Udrih to accommodate his career, not because they had grown tired of his stints on the injury list. Looking back, the Udrih to Minnesota trade was an oddball. The Spurs were able to creep beneath the luxury tax threshold by unloading Udrih, a move which saved them a few million dollars once other cap-related triggers were accounted for. And Udrih went on to trick the Kings into paying him way too much money. There is no doubt Beno Udrih benefited from the trade.
Beno was waived by Minnesota and signed by Sacramento to a one-year deal. He had an OK year with the Kings: 65 games: 13.3 PER, .387 3P%, .501 eFG%, 22.2 AST%, 16.1 TOV%, 6.2 TRB%. The Kings then re-signed the 6-foot-3 Udrih as Mike Bibby’s successor with a five-year, $32 million contract. His best season was 2010-11, his second straight season of putting up the same solid, consistent numbers: 79 games, 15.7 PER, .357 3P%, .539 eFG%, 22.1 AST%, 13.2 TOV%, 5.5 TRB%. In June 2011 Udrih found himself traded to the Milwaukee Bucks in a three-team deal that also centered around Stephen Jackson going from the Charlotte Bobcats to the Bucks, Corey Maggette from Milwaukee to the Bobcats, and John Salmons from the Bucks to the Kings. Last February, Udrih was sent from Milwaukee to Orlando in the J.J. Redick deal.
Over 66 total games last season (39 with Bucks, 27 with Magic):
14.2 PER, .333 3P%, .477 eFG%, 32.2 AST%, 17.2 TOV%, 5.3 TRB%.
OffRtg: 96.8, DefRtg: 103.5, PIE: 10.7%
The veteran who has logged almost 15,000 minutes of NBA action has become less of a scorer and more of a distributor. He’s got two championship rings (but just 308 total minutes in the playoffs, all with the Spurs), and could provide an international flavor that Ted Leonsis often seeks, as Udrih is from Slovenia, where Jan Vesely started his professional career. Perhaps he’s now the combination the Wizards need behind John Wall, but perhaps his defense is ultimately too much of a hindrance.
> John Lucas III…
…was born in Washington, D.C. and is an NBA veteran of three teams, 174 games and just over 2,050 minutes. Spread out over three seasons since 2005 with D-League and international play (Italy, Spain, China) in between, Lucas’ latest NBA stint was 63 games and 827 games last season with the Toronto Raptors. Undrafted after his senior season at Oklahoma State in 2005, and after a noteworthy season with the Chicago Bulls in 2011-12, the Raptors signed him to a two-year, $3 million contract last summer, but new Raptors GM Masai Ujiri recently declined the 2013-14 option on Lucas, making him an unrestricted free agent. The 5-foot-11 Lucas could provide the most scoring punch off the bench, especially from long distance. Considering the roster as it’s already shaping up, the scoring aspect of a backup to Wall could be the most important factor (even if I’m inclined to say that it’s defense instead).
Numbers with Chicago in 2011-12 (49 games, 726 minutes):
16.2 PER, .393 3P%, .476 eFG%, 25.8 AST%, 10.1 TOV%, 5.8 TRB%
OffRtg: 105.1, DefRtg: 87.5, PIE: 12.6%
Numbers with Toronto for those 63 games, 827 minutes:
12.8 PER, .377 3p%, .472 eFG%, 21.5 AST%, 7.0 TOV%, 4.7 TRB%
OffRtg: 102.1, DefRtg: 108.3, PIE: 9.3%
> A.J. Price…
…experienced his best season with the Washington Wizards in 2012-13, his fourth in the NBA after being drafted in the 2009 second round (52nd overall). The 6-foot-2 Price was very inconsistent, and well, not that great early on when the Wizards were 0-12 … but he came on, just like the team, with the return of John Wall. He was limited to 57 games and 1,278 minutes because of a broken hand and a groin injury. Losing Price would mean the departure of last year’s hype-man. Price, with his New York flair, was often one of the first off the bench to greet teammates going into timeouts. His role in keeping teammates uplifted, especially as a backup point, could be an underrated part of the chemistry Washington built last season. The Wizards signed Price last summer to a one-year contract for the $854,389 minimum.
Price’s numbers with the Wizards in 2012-13:
12.4 PER, .350 3p%, .475 eFG%, 26.4 AST%, 12.7 TOV%, 4.9 TRB%
OffRtg: 97.6, DefRtg: 99.9, PIE: 9.6%
Beno Udrih is the most reliable option, John Lucas is the scoring option, A.J. Price would be the defensive option, Eric Maynor would be the most unreliable yet high-reward option.
Other Free Agent Options (the six-footers club):
> Will Bynum…
…6-footer with six years of NBA experience, spent past five seasons with Detroit, just concluded a three-year, $9.75 million contract, put up the best numbers of his career last season.
In 65 games and 1,219 minutes with the Pistons:
16.6 PER, .316 3P%, .491 eFG%, 34.8 AST%, 17.3 TO%, 4.6 TRB%
OffRtg: 102.1, DefRtg: 108.7, PIE: 10.7%
> D.J. Augustin…
…6-footer, five years of NBA experience, spent first four seasons in Charlotte as the ninth overall pick in 2008, signed with the Indiana Pacers for one-year, $3.5 million last summer, put up numbers on par for his career, had some not-so-great moments in the playoffs.
In 76 games and 1,226 minutes with the Pacers:
11.0 PER, .353 3P%, .464 eFG%, 21.6 AST%, 16.8 TOV%, 4.1 TRB%
OffRtg: 97.3, DefRtg: 98.4, PIE: 8.9%
> Aaron Brooks…
…6-footer, five years of NBA experience (spent the lockout-shortened season in China), drafted 26th overall by Houston in 2007, won the Most Improved Player Award in 2009-10, has been traded to the Suns for Goran Dragic and a 1st rounder (Feb. 2011), has signed a two-year, $6.6 million contract with the Kings (July 2012), has been waived by the Kings (March 2013), and has been re-signed by the Rockets (days after being waived by the Kings). Just recently, in their chase for Dwight Howard, the Rockets have declined a $2.5 million team option on Brooks for next season. He played 38 total minutes (7 games), and 67 minutes (6 games) in the playoffs with Houston after signing in March.
In 53 total regular season games, 997 minutes with the Kings and Rockets:
11.8 PER, .373 3P%, .532 eFG%, 18.0 AST%, 16.5 TOV%, 4.6 TRB%
OffRtg: 100.2, DefRtg: 110.9, PIE: 7.3%
> Darren Collison…
…6-footer, four years of NBA experience, drafted by New Orleans 21st overall in 2009 (right after Maynor), once filled in admirably for an injured Chris Paul, traded to Indiana the next summer as part of a three-team deal that netted New Orleans Trevor Ariza, traded by the Mavericks last summer for Ian Mahinmi, had his best NBA season with the Mavericks, but is now an unrestricted free agent after Dallas declined to extend Collison the qualifying offer on the end of his rookie contract of around $4.5 million (in their pursuit of Dwight Howard).
In 81 games, 2,372 minutes with the Mavericks:
16.3 PER, .353 3P%, .504 eFG%, 26.8 AST%, 17.0 TOV%, 5.1 TRB%
OffRtg: 103.7, DefRtg: 105.7, PIE: 11.0%
Comparative Matrix Break-Down of the Statistics using hot and cool colors–the darkest red means that player ranks the best in the associated category when compared to the other seven players; blue indicates a low ranking in comparison.Judging from the colors above, the Wizards’ “Big Board” of preferred backups to Wall could rank like this:
- Darren Collison
- Beno Udrih
- A.J. Price
- John Lucas III
- Will Bynum
- Eric Maynor
- D.J. Augustin
- Aaron Brooks
Which one would you choose? [VOTE]