Washington Wizards Rumors

Washington Wizards trade, free agent, and draft rumors, updated constantly by the NBA experts at HoopsRumors.com.

Southeast Notes: Hawks, Heat, Pierce

May 27 at 4:46pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The Hawks are optimistic about their chances to bounce back next season despite the sting of having been eliminated from the playoffs by Miami, Paul Newberry of The Associated Press writes. ”It’s clear that we have some work to do as a team,” center Al Horford said. ”We will all learn from this process and I know it will make us a better team. We have a group that’s resilient. We have a group with a lot of high-character guys, guys that I’m willing to go to war with any day.”

If Atlanta decides not to reinstate GM Danny Ferry, coach Mike Budenholzer could take on an expanded role in player personnel matters, likely assisted by assistant GM Wes Wilcox, in an arrangement similar to the one in San Antonio between coach Gregg Popovich and GM R.C. Buford, Newberry adds. Budenholzer would like the team to add a rim-protecting big man to the mix for next season after being pushed around on the inside during the playoffs, the AP scribe notes.

Here’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Heat held workouts on Tuesday for Rondae-Hollis Jefferson, Rashad Vaughn, Charles Jackson, and Mouhammadou Jaiteh, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald reports. The team was especially impressed with Vaughn’s showing, Jackson tweets.
  • Working out today for the Heat was potential lottery pick Sam Dekker, tweets Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com. The former Wisconsin forward is who Miami is projected to select in Hoops Rumors’ most recent mock draft.
  • Paul Pierce had as much of an impact on the Wizards‘ locker room culture as he did with his production on the court, Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post writes in his season review for the veteran. Pierce has a player option for 2015/16 worth $5,543,725, though it’s unclear if he’ll retire, or possibly look to join the Clippers and his former coach Doc Rivers.

Southeast Notes: Wizards, Hawks, Thibodeau

May 26 at 5:15pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Wizards majority owner Ted Leonsis said that the team will look to establish its own D-League franchise once its new practice facility was completed, Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post relays (Twitter links). Leonsis said the team wishes to have a site secured by the end of this offseason, and potential locales include Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, Castillo adds. The Wizards were one of the 13 teams that shared the Fort Wayne Mad Ants this past season. Washington only assigned one player to the D-League during the 2014/15 campaign.

Here’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Hawks‘ difficulties in this year’s NBA playoffs have shown the need for the franchise to add another outside shooter, as well as a defensive-minded big man this offseason, Jeff Schultz of The Atlanta Journal Constitution opines. Atlanta has been hampered by injuries, but the team’s lack of depth has certainly been exploited by the Cavs this postseason.
  • Clippers coach/executive Doc Rivers, who has close ties to the Magic organization, has called the team advocating for the franchise to acquire current Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune reports. Scott Skiles is the current front-runner for the team’s vacant coaching position, and the Magic are reluctant to offer Chicago compensation in return for Thibodeau, Johnson notes.
  • The Heat would be best served not to deal the No. 10 overall pick in this year’s draft for multiple picks, opines Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. Winderman’s reasoning is that the team doesn’t intend to rebuild anytime soon, so nabbing a potential starter at No. 10 would be a wiser move than hoping to get lucky with lesser picks.

Southeast Notes: Winslow, Hawks, Wizards

May 25 at 6:30pm CDT By Dana Gauruder

The Heat would be wise to move up in the draft and select Duke’s Justise Winslow, Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post opines. Winslow has the total package the Heat need at small forward if Luol Deng declines his player option and becomes an unrestricted free agent, Lieser continues. Winslow is expected to be off the board by the time Miami’s lottery pick comes up at No. 10 since many of the teams drafting 5-9 need a small forward, in Lieser’s estimation. Winslow could also play shooting guard and that’s the other position where the club needs an upgrade, Lieser adds.

In other news around the Southeast Division:

  • The Heat would not have traded two potential lottery picks to the Suns for Goran Dragic unless Miami got a guarantee of re-signing the unrestricted free agent, as Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel surmises. If the Heat fail to re-sign Dragic, they would be limited to using one of their exceptions to find a replacement since they would not have the cap space to chase a higher-level free agent, Winderman continues. Even a player such as Suns’ reserve and unrestricted free agent Gerald Green, who made $3.5MM last season, would be out of Miami’s reach if he wanted a raise unless a sign-and-trade was arranged, Winderman adds.
  • The individual brilliance of LeBron James has the Cavaliers in full control of the Eastern Conference Finals, but Hawks coach/acting GM Mike Budenholzer is among those with the team who aren’t about to give up on an egalitarian philosophy, observes Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution“Every team has different ways to build and different ways to give themselves what they feel is their best chance,” Budenholzer said. “There is no doubt the way we’ve built the team with a lot of really good players, a lot of high-character guys. We feel like we can compete and play with anybody in the league. They’ve done it a different way. It’s a great battle. Obviously someone is going to win and lose. This is the way we are built. We believe in it. We think we can win at a high level. We’ll continue to do that.”
  • CSNWashington’s J. Michael gives his input on four key offseason decisions for the Wizards, who’ll seek a stretch four and have decisions to make regarding Nene Hilario, Martell Webster and soon-to-be free agent DeJuan Blair.

Latest On Paul Pierce

May 25 at 12:22pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Many around the league believe that Paul Pierce will opt out of his deal with the Wizards and join the Clippers for the home stretch of his career, as TNT’s David Aldridge writes within his Morning Tip column for NBA.com. That would run counter to Wizards coach Randy Wittman‘s apparent confidence that Pierce will pick up his nearly $5.544MM option and return to Washington. Pierce, who’ll turn 38 in October, left it open-ended in the wake of Washington’s playoff elimination about whether he would even play next season, echoing comments he made in January.

The link between the Clippers and Pierce dates back to last year, as Pierce told Aldridge this past fall that he saw the Clippers as his favored alternative to re-signing with the Nets before sign-and-trade talks between the Clips and Brooklyn broke down. Clippers coach and president of basketball operations Doc Rivers was Pierce’s coach for nine seasons with the Celtics, and Clippers assistant coach Sam Cassell played a major role in luring Pierce to the Wizards this past summer before he joined the Clippers staff. Still, the Clippers, if they succeed in their efforts to re-sign DeAndre Jordan, almost certainly won’t have the capacity to give Pierce as much for next season as he would make if he picked up his option, as I explained earlier when I looked at the offseason ahead in Los Angeles. The Clippers would have a tough time exceeding the $3.376MM taxpayer’s mid-level exception for any outside free agent if Jordan comes back.

Pierce has said he feels a connection with the younger players on the Wizards and with the city of Washington. The forward assumed a larger role for the team in the postseason than he had during the regular season, no doubt in part because of his sizzling 52.4% shooting on 63 attempts from behind the arc in the playoffs.

The 10-time All-Star will probably speak with Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and co-owner Wyc Grousbeck this summer about a role with the Boston organization for after he’s done playing, as Pierce told Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald in December. Still, Pierce didn’t follow up at that point on his assertion from March of 2014 that he was open to rejoining the Celtics as a player. Pierce and the Rockets had a degree of mutual interest last summer, but a deal didn’t appear likely.

Draft Notes: Rozier, Looney, Timberwolves

May 25 at 8:59am CDT By Chuck Myron

The NBA draft is just one month from tonight. The lottery and the combine are finished, so team workouts will be the main focus from now until draft night. Now that we know where every team will pick, we debuted our mock draft this weekend, and we’re continuing with our Prospect Profile series. Here’s more on the draft as the event starts to get close:

  • Louisville point guard Terry Rozier has made a habit of overcoming the odds, and he didn’t disappoint in his workout with the Jazz this weekend, according to Utah vice president of player personnel Walt Perrin, as Carter Williams of the Deseret News examines. The Jazz were one of 17 teams scheduled to audition Rozier, Williams writes, a group that apparently includes the Rockets and Spurs.
  • Kevon Looney added the Nets, Wizards, Jazz, Suns, Bulls, Cavs, Raptors, Hawks and Knicks to the list of the teams he interviewed with at the draft combine earlier this month, as the UCLA power forward revealed to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. Looney is a raw prospect, but even though he feels he could have improved if he’d stayed in college, he tells Medina that he’s confident he can also develop at the NBA level.
  • Connecticut point guard Ryan Boatright, LSU power forward Jordan Mickey, Texas combo forward Jonathan Holmes and Louisville swingman Wayne Blackshear are among the players tentatively scheduled to work out Friday for the Timberwolves, reports Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (Twitter link).

Southeast Notes: Korver, Riley, McRoberts, Butler

May 23 at 7:33pm CDT By Arthur Hill

The HawksKyle Korver will miss the remainder of the playoffs with an ankle injury, writes Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution [subscription required]. Korver suffered a severe high right ankle sprain in the third quarter of Friday’s Game 2 loss against Cleveland. His ankle got caught under Matthew Dellavedova when both were chasing a loose ball. X-rays were negative Friday, but an MRI and exam this morning at Peachtree Orthopaedic Clinic showed the severity of the damage. Korver’s next move will be to see a foot and ankle specialist to review his options, which could include surgery. Korver is signed for two more seasons; he will make more than $5.7MM next year and $5.2MM in 2016/17.

Here’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • It will be a surprise if Heat President Pat Riley holds onto the team’s number 10 draft pick, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. The columnist notes Miami hasn’t left the draft with its original pick in five years, and this year’s unsettled draft should provide plenty of chances to move up or move down. Winderman also speculates that if the Heat hadn’t been responding to LeBron James‘ stated preference for Shabazz Napier last season, the team may have pushed harder to swing a deal to draft Clint Capela, who was taken by Houston one spot ahead of Miami’s pick.
  • The Heat got just a small taste of what Josh McRoberts can bring to the team, according to Joe Beguiristain of nba.com. Miami hoped for great production from McRoberts when he agreed to a four-year, $23MM deal last summer. However, he was limited to just 17 games before suffering a torn meniscus in December that wiped out the rest of his season. A few days before the injury, McRoberts turned in a tantalizing performance with 10 points and seven assists against Phoenix. “I’m looking forward to getting healthy and being able to come back and contribute,” he said about next season.
  • Rasual Butler sees a bright future for the Wizards, even if he isn’t part of it, according to Ben Standig of CSNWashington.com. The 36-year-old veteran overcame the odds to make Washington’s roster this season after entering camp with no guarantee. He is among four Wizards’ free agents this offseason. “This is a great group of guys, a great coaching staff, a great organization,” Butler said. “I absolutely would love to return.”

Eastern Notes: Pierce, Magic, Wizards

May 22 at 9:22pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The Wizards are still unsure if Paul Pierce, who has a player option for 2015/16 worth $5,543,725, will play next season, but coach Randy Wittman doesn’t believe that he’ll need to try and sell the veteran forward on returning to Washington for another campaign, Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post writes. “I don’t need to recruit Paul,” Wittman said. “What Paul saw here and what he did here, not only with the team but with the city, all of that plays into it. His family was comfortable here. Will I sit down and talk with him? Yeah. But I don’t think I need to recruit him.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • John Wall is one of the many people in D.C. who wants Pierce to return to the Wizards next season, Castillo adds. “Who wouldn’t want to have a Hall of Fame guy back on this team? He meant so much to us,” Wall said. “Just his leadership, his work ethic, being a mentor, talking to us, and giving us those words of encouragement and that extra grit and fight. He has to do what’s best for him and his family, and that’s taking time off and deciding whether he wants to come back and play. Like he said, it gets tougher and tougher each year, roll out of bed and being 37 years old, it’s tough for him. Everything he gave us this season was another big key why I wanted to come back and try to win and get to the next round.
  • Magic guard Victor Oladipo showed marked improvement in his second season in the NBA, and he is looking forward to who the team can add to its roster this offseason, Ken Hornack of FOX Sports Florida writes. But in the event the team stands pat in the free agent market, Oladipo still believes Orlando can improve upon its 25 wins this season, Hornack relays. “We might make some additions, and hopefully they’ll come in and help us,” Oladipo said. “But at the end of the day, I feel like the core group of guys we have here has just got to get better. If they do, if we do, I think we’ll be where we need to be. We’re going to push each other. It’s all about winning. Everybody has to get that mentality of doing whatever it takes to win. And if we lose, they’ve got to hate losing.

2014/15 D-League Usage Report: Wizards

May 22 at 8:07pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The relationship between the NBA and the D-League continues to grow, and 17 NBA franchises currently have one-to-one D-League affiliates amongst the 18 D-League teams. The remaining 13 NBA teams shared the Fort Wayne Mad Ants this season. We at Hoops Rumors will be recapping each team’s use of the D-League this season, looking at assignments and recalls as well as the players signed out of the D-League. We’ll continue onward with a look back at how the Wizards utilized the D-League during the 2014/15 campaign…

D-League Team: Fort Wayne Mad Ants

Affiliation Type: Shared

D-League Team Record: 28-22

Number of NBA Players Assigned To D-League: 1

Total D-League Assignments: 1

Player Stats While On Assignment:

  • Glen Rice Jr.: 1 assignment, 14 games, 12.7 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 2.4 APG. .492/.359/.720.

D-League Signings

Assignment/Recall Log

Southeast Notes: Magic, Nene, Heat

May 22 at 4:30pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The Magic are unlikely to add a player with the No. 5 overall pick who can make an immediate impact, so any dramatic roster improvements will need to come via the free agent market, Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel writes. Orlando would have about $14MM in available salary cap space if the team were to waive Ben Gordon and Luke Ridnour before their salaries for next season become guaranteed, Robbins adds.

Organizationally,” Magic CEO Alex Martins said, “we’ve always maintained the same approach, the same philosophy: when available, spending up to the tax level as it relates to free agency. Our ownership has given us the ability to do that again, and we’ll continue to do that in these upcoming free-agent years, this offseason and next year as well.

Here’s the latest out of the Southeast Division:

  • One of the Wizards‘ top priorities this offseason will be to add a stretch four, which would result in Nene playing more at center, something the player might not be too keen on, Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post writes.
  • Wizards coach Randy Wittman indicated that Nene shifting to the reserve center role wouldn’t diminish his value to the team, Castillo adds. “As we saw down the stretch, he played some five, he and Marc in that situation,” Wittman said. “Him playing that position doesn’t make it a lesser role. We’ve got to look at what works best for who we have here. … With what John Wall does and the pace of play, we’ve got to play fast.
  • Heat president Pat Riley indicated that the team is looking for an all-around player who can score from the outside with the No. 10 overall pick in this June’s NBA Draft, Joseph Goodman of The Miami Herald writes. “A lot of times you have a player or two players who are playmakers that are your best playmakers and your best scorers, but they might not have that kind of range or that kind of game, so you need to go out and get two or three of those kinds of players,” Riley said. “And so, while we felt we had enough maybe on the perimeter, that might be an area where we look, but I don’t want him to be a one-dimensional guy.

Offseason Outlook: Washington Wizards

May 21 at 9:57am CDT By Chuck Myron

Guaranteed Contracts

Non-Guaranteed Contracts

  • None

Options

Restricted Free Agents/Cap Holds

  • None

Unrestricted Free Agents/Cap Holds

Draft Picks

  • 1st Round (19th overall)
  • 2nd Round (49th overall)

Cap Outlook

  • Guaranteed Salary: $64,650,940
  • Non-Guaranteed Salary: $0
  • Options: $6,644,327
  • Cap Holds: $11,559,645
  • Total: $82,854,912

A year later, the Wizards wound up right where they had been. Washington came closer to the title than it had in more than three decades last season, and this year, the Wizards repeated their run to the sixth game of the conference semifinals against the East’s No. 1 seed. If the three-point shot from Paul Pierce that officials waived off after a replay review at the end of Game 6 against the Hawks had left Pierce’s hands a moment earlier, the Wizards might still be playing. Still, Pierce’s mere presence on the court that night signaled the progress the Wizards have made in the past 12 months, even if the results in the playoffs didn’t show it.

March 23, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) dribbles the basketball during the second quarter against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Wizards 107-76. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

A 10-time All-Star still capable of making a significant contribution such as Pierce wouldn’t have chosen to sign with Wizards if he didn’t find them capable of going far. No one, and probably Pierce included, would have mistaken this year’s Wizards for a title contender, but it’s a franchise with at least a few of the basic ingredients necessary to become one in the near future. John Wall further established himself as an elite point guard, taking fewer shots and dishing more assists. He averaged 10.1 assists per game in the regular season and an even more impressive 11.9 in the playoffs, and he said at the team’s end-of-season press conference that what he’d learned from Pierce this season had a profound impact, as the Wizards Twitter account relays.

Much of the future for the Wizards depends on how much Wall, who’ll turn 25 in September, and Bradley Beal, who won’t be 22 until next month, can improve before they hit their respective peaks. Still, in spite of coach Randy Wittman‘s apparent belief that Pierce will play again next season, the 37-year-old veteran of 17 NBA seasons is making no such guarantees, and even if he does choose to come back, it’s not certain that he will do so with the Wizards. Pierce can become a free agent this summer if he turns down his player option, and as he showed in the playoffs, he probably still has enough left to command a salary similar to the more than $5.5MM he’d make on the option.

Backup center Kevin Seraphin already has his sights set on a starting role, signaling that he’s on his way elsewhere, with Marcin Gortat only one year into a five-year contract. Drew Gooden, another frontcourt rotation player, is also a free agent this summer. Washington is already knocking against the projected $67.1MM salary cap, so the team has little capacity to replace the players who walk away. The most significant financial weapon that GM Ernie Grunfeld is likely to have at his disposal will probably be the $5.464MM non-taxpayer’s mid-level exception, though he’ll also have the $2.139MM biannual exception two years after the ill-fated biannual signing of Eric Maynor. The signings that teams make with the mid-level and biannual are hit or miss. The Clippers were the only team to use the non-taxpayer’s mid-level to its full extent last summer, and they probably regret doing so for Spencer Hawes, while the Rockets held on to their biannual into the season and used it in December to nab Josh Smith, who was key in helping Houston oust the Clippers in the playoffs. In any case, the Wizards would be fortunate to find a player who can produce like Pierce did this year at those price points.

Grunfeld and the Wizards were creative in acquiring Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair via sign-and-trade last summer when they didn’t otherwise have means to sign them for more than the minimum, and while neither of them had an outsized impact, it shows there’s another way to upgrade. Washington has a pair of trade exceptions, one worth $4.625MM and the other more than $2.252MM, to facilitate those sorts of deals.

The Wizards could engender a more significant shakeup if they take heed to Gortat’s preference to play next to a stretch four. Nene doesn’t fit that description, and he’ll be on an expiring contract next season, when he’ll make $13MM. That salary won’t be easy to swap, particularly since many of Nene’s numbers were down this season amid fewer minutes per game than he’s seen since 2007/08, and he’ll turn 33 in September. It’s possible that Grunfeld could find a team with win-now aspirations that would be willing to take a short-term risk, like the Hornets, Kings or Raptors. However, unless one of those teams would be willing to send back an asset of real value, the Wizards are probably better off sticking with Nene and further reducing his role if Pierce, whose teams have played well with him at power forward, returns. Washington can always explore trades for Nene during the season if he grows discontent with his role, and the Wizards needn’t rush to add long-term salary to fix a short-term issue.

However the Wizards spend money in the offseason ahead, it’ll be with the summer of 2016 in mind. It’s no secret that the Wizards would love to persuade D.C. native Kevin Durant. set for free agency that summer, into a homecoming. The Wizards already have about $29MM in guaranteed salary for 2016/17, when preliminary projections show the salary cap surging to $89MM. An estimated starting salary for Durant in his next contract, based on that figure, would come in around $25MM. That would entail roughly $54MM for just three players, since Wall and Gortat are currently the only Wizards under guaranteed contracts for 2016/17. Nene is set to become a free agent that summer, and Otto Porter has a rookie scale team option for 2016/17 that season that the Wizards will surely pick up by the deadline to do so, which comes this year on October 31st. That’s also the last day the team can give an extension to Beal.

The Wizards are reportedly committed to giving Beal the max, and coach Randy Wittman signaled this week that the team intends to keep him around for the foreseeable future. The team has apparently been planning an extension for Beal for quite some time, but a five-year extension this summer is out of the question, since Washington already made Wall its Designated Player. The Wizards could sign Beal for five seasons if they wait until he hits restricted free agency after next season, and as Ken Berger of CBSSports.com noted, that would mean a significantly lower cap hold for Beal entering the summer of 2016, affording the team greater flexibility to chase Durant and others.

Regardless of when it happens, a max arrangement for Beal would mean he’d be making significantly more per season than Wall does, since the max salaries are escalating right along with the salary cap. The max for Beal would start at around an estimated $21MM, about $4MM more than Wall is scheduled to make in 2016/17, the season in which Beal’s next deal, whether in the form of an extension or a new contract, will begin. That might be too much for the shooting guard, even in the adjusted NBA economics that the surging salary cap will bring about, particularly given that he’s never posted a PER as high as 15.0, the mark of an average player. That metric is unfair to Beal, since he’s clearly more valuable than it suggests, but in any case, the Wizards seem poised to make a deeply consequential investment in the Mark Bartelstein client.

Washington didn’t make the progress in the postseason it might have hoped for this season, but the franchise is still in a much better position than it had been for many years, and more importantly, still seemingly a contender for Durant. Upgrades this summer would further the cause of attracting a superstar when the Wizards will have money to play with in 2016, but Washington is largely boxed in financially for now. A creative approach from the front office would help, but patience will be the key word for Grunfeld and company this summer.

Cap Footnotes

1 — The cap hold for Pierce would be $6,366,000 if he opts out.
2 — The cap hold for Temple would be $947,276 if he opts out, but he said he’s likely to opt in.

The Basketball Insiders Salary Pages were used in the creation of this post.