Ranking 25 Free Agents for the Washington Wizards | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Ranking 25 Free Agents for the Washington Wizards

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Updated: June 29, 2016

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There’s a rub with the Markieff Morris trade, even if you adopt the angle that getting his talent for 60 (or so) cents on the dollar was more advanced toward winning than drafting a player in the mid- to late-first round this summer. The Wizards, soon after, sought to appease any wavering confidence by inserting Morris into the starting lineup. This consequence all but solidified four of five starting spots heading into a big summer of free agency. Kind of tough to sell someone like Al Horford on coming to the District given that glut at this particular 4/5 position.

Kevin Durant would have been a perfect fifth (but alpha in dog). That’s not happening. The Wizards, under as much pressure as any team to make noise, have a plan B but it’s not clear cut. Complicated as a spider web, the path of the summer could go a number of directions and circle back to nowhere. Washington’s front office can’t rely on their time-tested approach—waiting for scraps to fall off the table as other teams overspend this summer—nor can they be reckless.

Hope John Wall’s knees recover well, prioritize signing Bradley Beal and hope he too stays healthy, mentor Morris where help is needed, tell Marcin Gortat you won’t trade him (1), and maximize the developmental returns of Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre while realizing neither has a ton of value on the trade market (facts are facts). And let’s be honest, since Garrett Temple will probably continue to be in Washington. He needs to come back with a more reliable jumper.

That leaves the Wizards with a foundation of seven: point guard (JW), shooting guard (BB), utility infielder end-of-bench combo guard (GT), two gangly wings (OP and KO), an agile utility big (MM), and a pick-and-roll center (MG).

Accounting for an open 15th roster spot (traditionally an Ernie Grunfeld preference heading into a season, unless injury is a factor), there are essentially seven huge spots to fill. The needs might rank like so:

1) defensive veteran wing who can score (still can’t totally rely on Porter and Oubre);
2) a defensive, shot-blocking big man off the bench;
3) a backup point guard;
4) a stretch 4;
5) attacking guard/wing off bench;
6) another big, or 2.

Let’s rank the potential free agents for the Wizards, knowing that salary cap space (around $30 million) isn’t limitless and that two-to-three positions could be filled by more fringe free agents.

[Note: These rankings—maneuvered several times before publishing—are imperfect, debatable, and fun!]


#1) Nic Batum (UFA, Charlotte) — He’ll turn 28 at the end of this year, so still fairly reasonable to give him the big payday the market will dictate. It would be a big investment on the part of the Wizards. But worth it for a defensive-minded, career 36% shooter from deep who had a nice bounceback year in Charlotte (after a down 2014-15 in Portland). And don’t buy the theory that inking Batum long-term would be detrimental to the progress of Porter and Oubre. Not a concern if the Wizards play more small ball lineups, and not something top tier franchises are concerned with, anyway.

#2) Al Horford (UFA, Atlanta) — Ranks on this list, but mostly as a courtesy. At one point he was the presumed plan B for the Wizards (and a lot of other teams). But giving Horford a max at age 30 now seems sketchy: Atlanta seems willing to move mountains to keep him, and the presence of Morris and Gortat just doesn’t make it feasible. Still, Horford is an All-Star and, if he’s willing, worth exchanging ideas with.

#3) Marvin Williams (UFA, Charlotte) — Drafted second overall in a yuck of a 2005 draft class, Williams has built a nice little career for himself in the new NBA, after toiling and underwhelming for the first seven years of his career in Atlanta. His career-high 16.8 PER and 40% 3-point shooting last season in Charlotte could regress to the mean. But more likely, the John Wall effect could continue to free Marvin for that type of impact. Another promising stat: Williams ranked 36th last season in Real Plus-Minus. Of course, if I question throwing a lot of money at Horford just because he’s 30, I should relay that he’s only two weeks older than Williams, and with a better long-term track record.

#4) Tomas Satoransky (rights owned, Spain) — Grunfeld & Co. have a lot to prove and even Teflon will melt with enough heat. Satoransky is young (24), athletic, has shown development in a top overseas league, and is a combo guard who can potentially be a two-way player in the NBA. He’s also decidedly not Jan Vesely. The time is now to pony up the buyout of Satoransky’s contract with Barcelona and sign him to a deal.

#5) Ryan Anderson (UFA, New Orleans) — Anderson is on the list but he simply cannot be the lone wolf at the top. He just turned 28 but has only once in his career played in more than 66 regular season games (Anderson has also played in less than 61 games just once). Back issues and personal tragedy have really derailed Anderson’s past two seasons. In particular to physical health, his 3-point shooting has been no better than Garrett Temple’s (35.3%) but with about two more attempts per 100 possessions. Slotting Anderson into the rotation with a player like Beal, who has also been unable to play a full season, would be a gambler’s last stand of sorts. Also, Anderson has always been a suspect defender, even though some numbers indicate otherwise.

#6) Trevor Booker (UFA, Utah) — He’s almost exactly the type of player the Wizards could have used last season. It would be nice to have him back, particularly since Booker shot 42-for-135 from deep (32.8%) over a two-year sabbatical in Utah while keeping his offensive rebounding rate steady. Fun Fact: Taken two drafts after Batum, Booker is almost a year older.

#7) Kent Bazemore (UFA, Atlanta) — You feel like he’s a much scrappier and capable version of Garrett Temple. And much more expensive. Still, he comes really close to meeting need No. 1 because the four-year vet is a defender with bite, left-handed, and a decent career 35% shooter from deep.

#8) Allen Crabbe (RFA, Portland) — Crabbe is not really a slasher or a passer, but he’s a very nice 3-point shooter (39% last season) and tough defender. Portland might want to keep Crabbe most out of all their free agents. It’s going to be tough for the Blazers to keep each three of Crabbe, Mo Harkless, and Meyers Leonard (see below).

#9) Meyers Leonard (RFA, Portland) — It’s not just that Leonard is a crazy-good 3-point shooter but he’s also a pretty good rebounder, especially in securing defensive boards. His play always seems to stick out as a positive when watching Portland, although turnovers and mobile defense can be issues with Leonard. At 7-foot-1 Leonard is a both a stretch 4 and 5. He’s also improved steadily since being drafted, which isn’t something that has to stop now.

#10) Chandler Parsons (UFA, Dallas) — Parsons would be great and all but it doesn’t seem like he’s on Washington’s radar. His agent is Dan Fegan, who was fired by John Wall last January. Parsons is still young enough and at the point in his career where his presence would also be too contrary to Porter and Oubre, while the older Batum would be a better, more productive example (See: Ariza, Trevor). Parsons is coming off major knee surgery and hasn’t really returned to form since.

#11) Festus Ezeli (RFA, Golden State) — Disaster in the NBA Finals aside, the 26-year-old Ezeli has shown promise on both ends over his handful of seasons with Golden State. The Wizards could do worse. In first round draft pick trade history, San Antonio in the spring of 2012 sent a future first, T.J. Ford, and Richard Jefferson to Golden State for Captain Stephen Jackson. Ezeli was then selected 30th overall in 2012. (Also: Remember when Jefferson was sort of a disaster with the Spurs?)

#12) Jared Dudley (UFA, Washington) — Does Jared Dudley want to be a Wizard? I think so. But his defense has really fallen off and while an underrated facilitator off the bounce, Ryan Anderson would most certainly be a better option, scoring-wise. You also wonder if Dudley’s acting as team mouthpiece was always appreciated by a team that already had a few.

#13) Joakim Noah (UFA, Chicago) / Pau Gasol (UFA, Chicago) — Let’s put both of these players in the same category: veterans who know their way around a basketball court but who likely won’t end up on a non-title contender like the Wizards coming off the bench. Noah will turn 32 in February, has dealt with a variety of injuries of the past few years, is a top-tier defender (although his ability to guard P&Rs has certainly declined), would be a passing asset, but isn’t one to help spread the floor. Gasol will turn 36 in July, is probably more apt toward coming off the bench, is likely a detriment on defense, but would really help the Wizards pack more offensive punch (especially now that Randy Wittman is gone). Nene, turning 34 in September, could be the better, more affordable option—if he does not retire.

#15) Andrew Nicholson (UFA, Orlando) / Mo Harkless (RFA, Portland) — These two are very close to being the same player and were teammates until Harkless was traded from Orlando to Portland last summer for a second round pick. The Magic, inexplicably, have chosen not to extend the Qualifying Offer to Nicholson, potentially making him a UFA steal for some team. Both have four years of NBA experience but Nicholson is three years older having spent four years at St. Bonaventure to Harkless’ one at St. John’s. Where the Wizards are concerned, Nicholson is probably the better fit because he has more muscle and is the better rounder (and the better 3-point shooter) while Harkless is close to being a small forward.

#17) Darrell Arthur (UFA, Denver) — With 28 years on the earth and seven years in the league, Arthur fits Grunfeld’s veteran checkbox. He also had a career year in Denver (including 38.5% on 3-pointers), and then opted out of a $2.9 million player options. Arthur wants his piece of the piece, which is reasonable, but something about the Wizards paying him $8-10 million a year doesn’t sit well.

#18) Mirza Teletovic (UFA, Phoenix) — Teletovic can do many of the same things that Ryan Anderson can do as a stretch 4 but much cheaper. The main difference being is that Teletovic shoots 3-pointers at a higher rate while Anderson is generally the better scorer and gets to the free throw line more. Teletovic has hit 37.5% from 3 over his career but shot 39.3% last season, 2.7% better than Anderson.

#19) Arron Afflalo (UFA, New York) — Injury prone but a veteran and respected on each career stop: Denver, Detroit, Orlando, Portland, and New York. He’ll turn 31 in October and is really only a scrap heap option.

#20) Courtney Lee (UFA, Charlotte) — Washington’s front office has long had its eye on Lee and came close to acquiring him a time or two. He’s still over the age (31 in October) to make a difference defensively, which is why the Celtics and Grizzlies have made moves to acquire him over past seasons. Charlotte got him before the trade deadline for their playoff push and Lee’s 3-point shooting went from 37% over 51 games in Memphis (below his 38.4% career average) to 39.2% over his final 28 games with the Hornets.

#21) Bismack Biyombo (UFA, Toronto) — He might have expectations to start somewhere, and he’ll get paid like a starter, but I’m not sure that’s practical. Biyombo would be the perfect big off the bench for Washington and that considered alone should place him higher on this list, but Biyombo is ranked this low because of the likelihood that he’ll end up somewhere besides Washington.

#22) Ian Mahinmi (UFA, Indiana) — Very veteran big man — 30 in November, eight seasons, six trips the playoffs (one with Spurs, twice with Dallas, and three times with Indiana), and one NBA championship ring (2011 with Dallas).

#23) Ian Clark (RFA, Golden State) — If it’s a backup scoring point guard the Wizards need, then Clark could cheaply fill that role. That said, I think I’d rather have Ramon Sessions back. Clark is the better 3-point shooter and defender (barely), but Sessions is the better passer and attacks the basket a lot more (.478 FTr to Clark’s .168).

#24) Dwight Powell (RFA, Dallas) — Washington had their eye on Powell during the 2014 draft, but he was selected one slot before the Wizards’ 46th overall pick. Instead they selected Jordan Clarkson for the Lakers in exchange for cash. Indications out of Dallas is that they want to keep him.

#25) Alan Anderson (UFA, Washington) — Anderson was a disappointing signing, for sure (13 games, 192 minutes played), but also a locker room leader who immediately had John Wall’s ear. The concern is that Anderson’s health simply can’t be trusted at this point.


The Others (unranked):

  • Evan Fournier (RFA. Orlando) — probably too restricted, given the guards Orlando has lost this summer.
  • Harrison Barnes (RFA, Golden State) — Not with Otto and Oubre in the fold.
  • Luol Deng (UFA, Miami) — A too “out of touch” spend.
  • Tyler Zeller (RFA, Boston) — Don’t see him as best pairing with Morris and Gortat, but what do I know?
  • Boban Marjanovic (RFA, San Antonio) — The Spurs are so going to keep this guy.
  • Hassan Whiteside (UFA, Miami) — He’ll be too expensive and I’m not sold on him being an intelligent basketball player. Seems like he just a tad better than JaVale McGee.
  • David West (UFA, San Antonio) — He will championship chase again. Will West wind up in Cleveland or stay in San Antonio? He flirted with signing with the Wizards last season, and I imagine his leadership would been the best option to replace Pierce’s. (West’s agent has also mentioned that retirement is a viable option.)
  • Jarrett Jack (UFA, Brooklyn) — Coming off a knee injury, “sources” (his agent) claim he’ll be ready for training camp. The Wizards are totally going to sign him, aren’t they?
  • Jan Vesely (UFA, Turkey) or Jordan Clarkson (RFA, LA Lakers) — For all the LOLz.

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  1. And nor should the Wizards trade Gortat, unless it’s to get DeMarcus Cousins, Al Horford in a sign-and-trade, or Paul Millsap (11th in RPM) in a trade.
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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle lives in D.C. with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.