October 20, 2019

Washington Wizards Roster Situation Heading into 2015 Offseason and NBA Draft

After getting bounced out of the NBA Playoffs in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals for the second year in a row, the Washington Wizards have to start looking towards next year. The first step in that process is evaluating the roster with a keen eye on those who are not guaranteed to be on the roster next season. The Wizards have four unrestricted free agents this summer: Rasual Butler, Will Bynum, Drew Gooden, and Kevin Seraphin. Additionally, Garrett Temple and — more importantly, Paul Pierce — have player options for next season.

Butler will likely be satisfied with a veteran’s minimum contract and he single-handedly won early regular season games as a result of his hot shooting. The 36-year-old vet lacked playing time late in the season which correlated to his mediocre 3-point shooting, possibly an effect of tired legs. However, if the Wizards would rather have an older somewhat proven shooter, though far past his peak, rather than trying to develop undrafted free agents, Butler will have a job in DC.

Will Bynum secured the 15th man on the roster late last season after the Wizards played around with multiple free agents after waiving Summer League MVP Glen Rice Jr. Bynum has enough experience to find work elsewhere in the NBA, if the Wizards decide to pass on the undersized guard. Similarly to Butler, if the Wizards do not draft at their positions and have open roster spots, they might lean towards bringing back the veteran instead of taking a chance on an undrafted free agent.

Out of all the unrestricted free agents, Drew Gooden played the most minutes late in the regular season and post-season, not including Pierce who has a player option. Gooden is a 13-year veteran but is a true stretch four, unlike Nene and Kris Humphries, who is reported to be developing a 3-point stroke. Gooden shot 39 percent from beyond the arc this past season including an effective 46.2 percent (12 of 26) during the post-season. Moreover, the former fourth overall pick was the most effective PF for the Wizards in guarding other big men with jump shot threats. Gooden will likely demand more than just the veteran’s minimum and as a result could ask for a two year deal that could include a player option to allow for flexibility for an aging player.

Kevin Seraphin certainly improved from a disappointing 2013-2014 season as he doubled his points, rebounding, and minutes played production. Moreover, there are few big men with his set of skills, low post moves, jump hooks, and elbow jumpers, in such a powerful body. As a result, the 25-year-old center will demand more than the nearly $4 million he made this year because he is about to enter his prime. The France native wants a chance to compete for the starting job, which will not be in DC after Gortat finished the first year of his five-year max deal. Washington has likely seen the last of Seraphin, but it should not be too much of a hit next year with the league transitioning to a small ball approach.

Garrett Temple is a well-traveled veteran as the Wizards are his sixth NBA team and has also played a year in Italy’s pro league; however, the LSU product has always been known for his effective defense. After missing more than the final month of the regular season with a hamstring tear, Temple looked rusty and ineffective in the playoffs when being forced into action with John Wall’s wrist injury. Temple was 1 of 6 from the field, 5 of 8 from the free throw line, and had one assist to this three turnovers in 26 minutes of work during the Hawks series. That being said, Temple is a solid role player that is in the good graces of the Wizards brace and has told CSN Washington that he is likely to exercise his player option. Temple’s contribution to the organization comes less during the game and more from his ability to push John Wall and Bradley Beal on the practice court at just over $1 million.

It is safe to say the Wizards would desperately love to have Paul Pierce back because of his ability to take clutch shots in big situations as he demonstrated in Game 3 against the Hawks. There are a lot of different options for Pierce to say the least. Immediately after having his potential game tying shot waived off during Game 6 in the same series versus the Hawks, Pierce hinted at the possibility of retirement as he stated he had to “see how my body feels, how it responds. It’s tough when you get older going through these 82 [game] grinds”. After deciding not to take part in exit interviews, rumors surfaced that Pierce might opt out of his contract with the Wizards to return home to California and reunite with his former-Celtics coach Doc Rivers as a Los Angeles Clipper.

Soon thereafter, however, when Pierce went on Mad Dog Sports Radio’s “The Players Tribune” show he gave the DC faithful something to feel happy about. When discussing the Hawks series, he included himself as part of the Wizards using pronouns like “we” and “us”. For instance, The Truth detailed “we really have a really good young team, and a couple budding superstars” and “we felt like we were the better team if we had stayed healthy”. With Pierce having until the end of the month to opt into a $5.5 million contract, it might not be until after the draft that the Wizards know whether they have their future Hall of Famer back. That being said, Pierce did say that he will be making his decision in the next couple of weeks on June 4. Most recently, the Clippers were rumored to acquire Lance Stephenson in a trade according to Adrian Wojnarowski. Such a move could indicate that The Truth turned Doc Rivers down and will either look to retire or return to DC.

Even though the Wizards have nine guaranteed players back for the 2015-2016 season, the Wizards will have to make moves now that take into account them moving forward during the next offseason. Next year the Wizards will have to worry about the expiring contracts of Bradley Beal, Nene, and Ramon Sessions.

Current players aside, if the Wizards truly want to make a run at arguably the second best player in the game and DC native Kevin Durant, they will have to be looking at a max contract that has an annual salary north of $20 million a year.

Bradley Beal is clearly a franchise player for the Wizards and will likely get a max deal next summer even though he will be a restricted free agent. Beal might not draw the same average $17 million as John Wall did when he signed his extension last year, but it should be north of Marcin Gortat’s $12 million a year. Much of the final number will be determined by Beal’s ability or inability to stay healthy which will in turn correlate to his production, which we could see to be in the ball park of 20 points a game if he plays to his potential.

Nene might be the most intriguing player on the Wizards roster as a whole. At times the big Brazilian is unstoppable in the paint both as a scorer and a rebounder and we have seen spurts of that throughout the season, but never consistently. Then in the playoffs he saw limited playing time behind Drew Gooden because of Randy Wittman’s smaller lineups to combat the stretch four options of both the Toronto Raptors and Atlanta Hawks. When Nene was acquired for JaVale McGee four years ago, it seemed like a great move but now with the talk of the Wizards starting to play small ball, it is possible that Nene could be moved to the backup center position. If that were to happen, Nene has always expressed his displeasure in having to play the 5 spot on the floor, which could result in him being on the trading block come February 2016 if not sooner.

Ramon Sessions was a trade target for the Wizards during the buildup of the 2014 playoff run, but Ernie Grunfeld finally struck a deal to acquire the veteran in exchange for the ultimate veteran point guard Andre Miller. Sessions’s skill set to play both guard positions as well as the ability to add more tempo to the second unit drew Washington to his liking after he saw limited playing time with the Sacramento Kings. With still another year on his contract, Ramon Sessions told me he likes the fit and is excited to get a better grasp of the system heading into next year. The one knock on the eight-year veteran is his lack of a three point shot as he is a career 31.2 percent shooter from beyond the arc.

With potentially nine free agents over the next two years there could be a lot of new faces on the Wizards; however, I would say only Kevin Seraphin and Nene are locks to leave. If the Wizards change their track record and decide to start developing younger talent, Rasual Butler, Will Bynum, and Ramon Sessions might not re-sign with the club. Going into next week’s draft, the Wizards should look to draft the best player available to surround the core players of John Wall, Bradley Beal, Marcin Gortat, and the playoff version of Otto Porter.

About Neil Dalal

Neil Dalal is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins, Wizards, and Maryland Terrapins. Neil grew up in Silver Spring, MD and attends the University of Maryland. Neil has loved everything related to the Redskins, Wizards, Capitals, and Terrapins since he was eight years old. However, he favors the Orioles, as he started watching baseball before the Expos moved to DC. You can follow Neil on Twitter @NeilDalal96.

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  1. […] confident in either, whether it is in a starting or backup role. Earlier I discussed some of the potential Wizards that may be leaving the club, which could influence how the team will stand going into next year. It is likely that Kevin […]

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