The 2019-20 season for Washington was a major recovery after a messy 2018-19. The Wizards were capped out and in the luxury tax with a top-heavy roster and little-to-no young players to look forward to. Although they don’t have a young star to look forward to yet, they now have a competent front office led by Tommy Shepard who got them back on the right path.
WIZARDS 2020-21 PAYROLL
The Wizards are entering the 2020-21 offseason with $103 million dedicated to 11 players. Isaac Bonga is non-guaranteed while Anzejs Pasecniks is only $250,000 guaranteed. They are likely to operate over the salary cap and will be around $30 million below the currently projected $139 million luxury tax after signing their first-round pick. They will most likely have access to the non-taxpayer mid-level exception projected at $9.8 million.
BRADLEY BEAL’S FUTURE
When Bradley Beal extended with the Wizards in 2019, all it really did was buy them one more year with him. Beal was originally set to enter free agency in 2021 provided he declined his player option. Now he has a player option for the summer of 2022, giving them approximately one more year from now for both sides to make a decision.
Beal solidified himself as one of the league’s top scorers in 2018-19 while making his second consecutive All-Star game. Unfortunately, he did not earn All-NBA honors, which would’ve allowed him to sign a designated veteran extension, or supermax, with the Wizards last summer. It would’ve added four years and $196 million to his current contract, though it is unclear if Beal would’ve signed it or if the Wizards would’ve offered the full maximum amount.
Beal managed to more than outperform his 2018-19 season with 30.5 points, 3 threes, and 6.1 assists per game this season. He is second among shooting guards in value over replacement player (VORP) and kept the Wizards at 9th place by the time the season got suspended, just 5.5 games behind the No. 8 seed in the Eastern conference. Now that the Wizards have regained stability in the front office, a combination of their youth making leaps and a healthy John Wall can be led by Beal to contention in the East.
If the Wizards feel that they will need to move on from Beal, they will be able to get a haul if they trade him this offseason. One team that can probably get a deal done now is the Oklahoma City Thunder. With multiple first-round picks owed to them by the Clippers, Heat, and Rockets over the next six drafts, the Thunder have too many to realistically make selections on. They need to trade a number of those picks, and a large combination of them should be more than enough to secure Beal. Billy Donovan being Beal’s former coach at the University of Florida also helps. The Pelicans can also make a similar offer with multiple first-round picks now that they’re in control of the Lakers draft through 2025.
Many other teams will make offers that are lighter with picks but contain established players and young assets. The Nets, who are reportedly looking to add a third star, can offer a combination of Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, and Spencer Dinwiddie. If the Hawks decide to expedite their timeline, they could package some of DeAndre Hunter, Cam Reddish, and Kevin Huerter. Depending on how the Wizards project Michael Porter Jr., perhaps a package that includes him, Gary Harris, and multiple first-round picks can get it done. The Warriors could offer Andrew Wiggins with their Top 5 pick this year and the Wolves Top 4 protected 2021 pick. Many other teams such as the Bulls, Kings, Blazers, Wolves, and Pacers might be looking to make an upgrade at shooting guard and could offer theirs as part of a bigger package for Beal.
These are all very strong returns that could set up the Wizards for a strong future without Beal. There is a good possibility that there won’t be a bidding war as competitive for him in 2021 as in 2020, so the Wizards should at the very least listen to all offers for him.
DAVIS BERTANS FREE AGENCY
When the Wizards acquired Davis Bertans from the Spurs, they probably didn’t anticipate having to pay him more than double his current salary to re-sign him. That is the reality they are facing now that he has proved himself to be one of the top shooters in the league. The power forward averaged career-highs with 15.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 0.6 blocks per game. His 3.7 threes per game are tied for fourth in the league and he is seventh in the league in made threes with 200. His elite shooting ability allows him to fit onto any team seamlessly.
Every team with the mid-level exception will offer it to Bertans, but he is looking at receiving offers in the $15-20 million range annually. Teams who can make such offers include the Hawks, Hornets, Pistons, Heat, Knicks, and Suns, all of whom can generate at least $24 million in cap space. The Wizards have Bertans’ full Bird rights, allowing them to re-sign him to up to the maximum if needed. All indications are that the Wizards see him as a part of their future and intend to re-sign him, especially after declining trade offers for him that include first-round picks.
Head coach Scott Brooks will be in the final year of his contract next season. Brooks was hired under former general manager Ernie Grunfeld, so it is unclear if views him as his coach long-term. If Brooks is the guy going forward, it would make sense to give him an extension before getting too deep into next season.
The Wizards were 24-40 by March 11 when the season got suspended. Unless they jump in the lottery, they are looking at the ninth pick in this year’s draft. With no clear starting small forward, the Wizards could look to add the best one available. The 2020 draft has several small forwards at the top of the draft the Wizards could potentially choose from. The Wizards also have the 37th overall pick they received from the Chicago Bulls for Tomas Satoransky.