Whatís the Wizardsí Next Move?

Whatís the Wizardsí next move?

12/31/13 in NBA   |   Andrew_Ericksen   |   230 respect

Dec 27, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) calls a play during the first quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. The Timberwolves defeated the Washington Wizards 120-98. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY SportsJohn Wall has taken a hug leap forward this season. He now belongs amongst the NBA’s elite point guards. His outside shooting is still a work in progress but with his ability to break down a defense, dish out the ball and pester opposing point guards on the other end, he’s become a star.
 
Then there’s second-year shooting guard Bradley Beal, who’s provided a great compliment to Wall this year. His strength is Wall’s weakness: the outside shot. Beal is hitting 46% of his threes and shooting them at a high rate, over five and a half attempts per game.
 
Wall is 23 years old and Beal is only 20. Their potential together is scary.
 
But after that, the Wizards have a lot of questions to ask themselves. Wall and Beal are averaging nearly 40 points per game between them, with Trevor Ariza (15.5), Nene (14.1), Marcin Gortat (12.6), and Martell Webster (12.4) next in line.
 
Ariza and Gortat are in the final years of their contracts. Both of them have been solid role players - Ariza’s defense and 3-point shooting and Gortat’s rebounding - but they’re expendable. Webster is locked up through 2016 with a team option for 2017, due to make between $5 and $6 million per season. Then there’s the Nene contract, which is just all kinds of awful. Nene will be making $13 million a year up through 2016. Washington’s team salary for next year is about $43 million, 10th lowest in the league, but if Nene weren’t taking up a third of the payroll, they’d be closer to the top 5 lowest team salaries in the NBA.
 
At 14-14, the Wizards have had a decent start to the season. They’re likely to give Atlanta a run for the third seed in the Eastern Conference and should finish the year over .500. In one of the weakest conferences the league has ever seen, the Wizards are clearly one of the more talented teams, mostly because of Wall alone.
 
But getting past the second round of the playoffs isn’t going to happen this year. If they end up with a 3 through 6 seed and advance to the second round, they’ll have to face either Miami or Indiana and there’s little-to-no-chance they’d even be able to stretch a series past 5 games with their lack of depth and underwhelming frontcourt. But with the right moves, the Wizards could really set themselves up for a big 2014-15 and an extremely promising future.
 
The key is finding a top tier forward to pair with their talented backcourt. On the current trade market, Pistons power forward/center Greg Monroe is the top option. At only 23 years of age, the 6’11” Monroe is a smart, versatile player that’s never played alongside someone as talented as Wall. The Pistons would probably want a perimeter player like Ariza or Webster in return, and maybe a draft pick as well. Monroe will be a restricted free agent in 2014 and with Josh Smith and Andre Drummond locked in, it’s likely Monroe is headed out of the Motor City soon.
 
Yet with so much salary space for 2014-15, the Wizards may be looking to make a big splash in the big 2014 free agent market. While they’re not likely to land any of the Heat’s big three - yes, all three are free agents - there’s another big name that could be a high risk/high reward fit on the team: Carmelo Anthony.
 
The Knicks are in shambles and if you look at the teams with the most cap space for next season, you aren’t likely to find anyone with as much potential as Washington behind Wall. The threesome of Wall, Anthony and Beal would be a point-scoring machine. There are a lot of questions about Anthony’s ability to win, the Allen Iverson syndrome, but as one of the league’s top scorers and with a continuously growing chip on his shoulder, the veteran could be a great fit on a team much in need of another star. 
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