Washington Wizards

Marshall Could Be An Option For The Wizards

The Wizards could be a suitor for Kendall Marshall, Ben Standig of Comcast Sportsnet speculates. Marshall was traded to the Jazz and subsequently waived on Friday. Washington could look to add depth at the point guard position with John Wall still recovering from knee surgery. The team added former first round pick Trey Burke via trade this offseason and the Michigan product will likely get the first shot at backing up the team’s franchise player.

Wall, Beal Issues Could Lead To Eventual Breakup

The disconnect between the Wizards backcourt duo of John Wall and Bradley Beal could eventually convince the front office to deal one of them, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer.

Wall recently admitted in a TV interview with CSN’s Chris Miller that he and Beal don’t have great on-court chemistry, claiming they have “a tendency to dislike each other on the court.” Beal told CSNMidAtlantic.com’s J. Michael that he and Wall “lose sight of the fact that we need each other.”

O’Connor takes it a step further, quoting an unnamed agent who says the dislike extends beyond the basketball floor.

“Whatever is public, multiply it by five and that’s how they really feel about each other,” the agent told O’Connor. “It’s probably a total disaster.”

New Wizards head coach Scott Brooks will have the challenge of getting them to become a more cohesive pair but if that fails, the club may have no choice but to break them up, O’Connor opines. Beal just signed a $127MM contract but Wall’s contract, with three years and $54.2MM remaining, can easily be moved if the Wizards go in that direction, O’Connor adds.

Wall’s willingness to become more accountable and a respected leader will go a long way in determining how Washington handles the situation, Michael asserts in a different column. The backcourt pair, while not the best of friends, don’t hate each other, Michael continues. But assistant coach Sidney Lowe contends Wall must do more to win over everyone in the locker room.

“It’s your communication and get your players to feel good about you. And the way you do that is by you getting them to feel good about themselves,” Lowe told Michael. “There’s something to that. Obviously that’s an area where I can work with and talk to with John and help him out a little bit.”

Wall’s habit of publicly displaying his displeasure over contracts handed out to opposing players does not help his cause, O’Connor contends. Wall criticized the Pistons last summer for giving out a big contract to Reggie Jackson. Wall apparently had similar feelings about the extension James Harden received from the Rockets this summer, with a front-office executive telling O’Connor that Wall was “rankled” by that four-year, $118MM contract.

Could Wizards Seek More Point Guard Depth?

Wall May Not Be Ready Opening Night

Four months after having surgery on both knees, the WizardsJohn Wall is being cautious with predictions about his availability for opening night, relays Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. The procedure on Wall’s right knee just removed some loose particles, Bucker notes, but the operation on the left knee was much more serious. Wall hasn’t been cleared for one-on-one games, but he can run, jump and handle two-a-day workouts. “I’m doing all that right now, working out and doing all that type of things but I’m not in no rush,” Wall said. “I’m very excited to be back on the court because I will tell you sitting on the table all day and doing those boring exercises is no fun. Six hours out of the day, it’s the frustrating part in this.” Wall will join his teammates in Los Angeles for a four-day mini-camp starting Sunday. The Wizards open their regular season October 27th.

J.J. Hickson Headed To China?

AUGUST 20: Hickson is finalizing a deal with the Fujian club, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com.

AUGUST 19: Power forward J.J. Hickson is negotiating a deal in China, a source told international journalist David Pick (Twitter link).

The 6’9” Hickson has played in the NBA since the 2008/09 season. He played 20 games with the Nuggets last season, including nine starts, and averaged 6.9 points and 4.4 rebounds in 15.3 minutes.

Hickson, who had a $5.6MM salary last season, was waived after reaching a buyout agreement in February.  The Nuggets tried to deal him before the trade deadline but couldn’t find a taker. He played in just three games after December 8th before he was waived.

He then signed for the remainder of the season with Wizards after clearing waivers. He appeared in 15 games with Washington, averaging 4.6 points and 3.0 rebounds in 8.7 minutes.

Hickson has also played for the Cavaliers, Kings and Trail Blazers. He’s averaged 9.5 points and 6.8 rebounds in 534 career games.

A torn ACL in March 2014 sidetracked Hickson’s career. His reputation as a subpar midrange shooter and poor defender also hindered his chances of signing another NBA contract.

Wizards To Ink Casper Ware To Camp Deal

The Wizards have agreed to a contract with unrestricted free agent Casper Ware, Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post reports (on Twitter). The scribe labels it as a training camp deal, which means it likely includes little or no guaranteed money. Washington is well over the cap, so it is likely for the league minimum salary, though, the team does still have its Room Exception available, but it would be surprising if that was used in this instance.

Washington already has 16 players under contract, including 12 possessing full guarantees on their deals, so Ware certainly has his work cut out for him to make the regular season roster. He’ll be competing with Trey Burke, Tomas Satoransky and Marcus Thornton for a spot on the bench.

Ware, who last appeared in the NBA during the regular season in 2013/14 with the Sixers, spent this past campaign overseas where he split time between Tianjin Ronggang (China) and ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne (France). In 31 combined games, the guard averaged 15.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 27.3 minutes per outing. His shooting line was .394/.354/.793.

Brooks Excited By Potential Of Wall/Beal Backcourt

  • New Wizards coach Scott Brooks is looking forward to coaching the backcourt combo of John Wall and Bradley Beal, a pairing he believes can be one of the league’s top duos, Ben Standig of CSNMid-Atlantic relays. “I haven’t had a chance to coach them yet, but on paper an having coached against them, it’s a perfect fit,” Brooks said. “We can have one of the best two-way backcourts in the league.

Six Free Agents Signed Five-Year Contracts

The NBA’s current Collective Bargaining Agreement is designed to give teams certain benefits when it comes to re-signing their own free agents. Many players who reach free agency, for instance, are permitted to get 7.5% annual raises from their own teams, while they can only get 4.5% raises from another team. More notably, Bird rights free agents can sign five-year contracts with their own teams, but can only go up to four years with other clubs.

In some cases, that extra year doesn’t make much of a difference. Al Horford left Atlanta for Boston and signed a four-year contract with the Celtics, even though there were reports suggesting the Hawks were open to going to five years (albeit not quite for the max). Kevin Durant signed with the Warriors on a two-year contract that he’ll likely opt out of after the first year in order to maximize his future earnings.

Still, for at least a handful of players, that five-year contract appears to have played a part in their decisions to return to their own teams. As our Free Agent Tracker shows, six free agents signed five-year deals this year, and all six of those contracts were worth at least $85MM. Three of them were maximum-salary pacts.

Here are those five-year contracts, which will run through the 2020/21 season:

  • Mike Conley (Grizzlies): Five years, $152,605,578 (partial guarantee in year five)
  • DeMar DeRozan (Raptors): Five years, $137,500,000 (player option in year five)
  • Andre Drummond (Pistons): Five years, $127,171,313 (player option in year five)
  • Bradley Beal (Wizards): Five years, $127,171,313
  • Nicolas Batum (Hornets): Five years, $120,000,000 (player option in year five)
  • Evan Fournier (Magic): Five years, $85,000,000 (player option in year five)

Although Conley drew significant interest from the Mavericks, he was always a favorite to return to the Grizzlies, and none of the other five players on this list were seriously linked to another suitor, which is interesting.

Drummond and Beal were restricted free agents who got max deals, so there was never any suspense about their destinations, but plenty of teams would have been interested in prying away DeRozan from the Raptors, Batum from the Hornets, or Fournier from the Magic. The fact that those players’ teams were willing to offer five years likely made negotiations much simpler, since no rival suitor could offer that fifth year.

A five-year contract provides additional long-term security for free agents, and also gives the team the opportunity to give the player some agency as well. In four of the six deals listed above, the contract features a fifth-year player option.

That means DeRozan, Drummond, Batum, and Fournier have a safety net for that 2020/21 season — if they’re still playing at a high level at that point, it might make sense to opt out and sign a new longer-term contract. If their production has slipped, or if they’re battling injuries, they’ll have the option of remaining in their current contract and collecting a big pay check in that fifth year.

The ability to offer an additional year to their own free agents hasn’t always prevented teams from losing top-tier players on the open market, but there are still plenty of instances where that fifth year seems to make a difference. As the CBA opt-out date nears and the NBA and NBPA explore potential changes to their current agreement, it makes sense for this aspect of the CBA to remain unchanged. That extra long-term security may not appeal to every marquee free agent, but it does give a player’s current team a leg up, which is crucial if the league is worried about potential imbalance.

Micheal Eric Signs With Spanish Team

  • Center Micheal Eric, who played on the Wizards’ Las Vegas summer league team, has signed with Spanish Club Bilbao, league sources informed J. Michael of CSNmidatlantic.comEric had the option of joining Washington for training camp but decided to head overseas when the club wouldn’t offer a partial guarantee, Michael adds. The 28-year-old Eric averaged 9.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in five summer league outings. 

Wizards To Pick Up 2017/18 Option On Kelly Oubre

In an unsurprising move, the Wizards will exercise the third-year option on Kelly Oubre‘s rookie contract, reports J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic.com. Washington won’t have to rush to make the move official, since the deadline for rookie-scale option decisions is still nearly three months away.

Rookie-scale contracts for first-round picks feature two guaranteed seasons, followed by two non-guaranteed team options. Teams must make decision on those options a year in advance, by October 31. Generally, those third- and fourth-year salaries are so affordable – particularly under the new salary cap – that it makes sense for teams to exercise those options unless the player has been a total bust.

Oubre, the 15th overall pick in last year’s draft, didn’t receive a ton of playing time in his rookie season, but flashed potential when he saw the floor. The 20-year-old, who played his college ball at Kansas, appeared in 63 games for the Wizards in 2015/16, averaging 3.7 PPG and 2.1 RPG in 10.7 minutes per contest.

Oubre’s contract will pay him about $2MM this season, while his third-year option for 2017/18 will be worth about $2.093MM. A year from now, the Wizards will have to make a decision on Oubre’s fourth-year option for 2018/19, which will pay him $3.209MM if it’s picked up.

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