- Nene ($13,000,000)
- Andray Blatche ($7,118,502)
- John Wall ($5,915,880)
- Jan Vesely ($3,202,920)
- Kevin Seraphin ($1,797,600)
- Chris Singleton ($1,551,840)
- Trevor Booker ($1,385,280)
- Jordan Crawford ($1,198,680)
Free Agents (Cap Holds)
- Cartier Martin ($1,060,120 – QO)
- Morris Almond ($1,060,120 – QO)
- Brian Cook ($854,389)
- Maurice Evans ($854,389)
- James Singleton ($854,389)
- 1st Round (Pending lottery; 19.9% chance at first overall pick)
- 2nd Round (32nd overall)
- 2nd Round (46th overall)
- Guaranteed Salary: $48,870,253
- Non-Guaranteed Salary, Cap Holds: $14,445,602
- Total (not including draft picks): $63,315,855
2011/12 was a tale of two seasons for the Washington Wizards, who took an ugly 9-33 record into the trade deadline. On March 15th, the Wizards traded away two veterans in JaVale McGee and Nick Young; a few days later the team shut down Andray Blatche for the remainder of the season. Washington went on to post an 11-13 post-deadline record, including a 7-4 mark in games that new Wizard Nene played.
While calling the Wizards a .500 team going forward may be a little optimistic, there are certainly reasons to be optimistic. The arrival of Nene seemed to have a positive impact on the team both on and off the court, and the disappointing and out-of-shape Blatche may have played his last game as a Wizard. And while Washington hasn't quite reached the end of Rashard Lewis' bloated contract, the team has the option of riding it out for one more season or buying him out and saving $9MM.
Besides Nene, Blatche, and Lewis, every Wizards player with a guaranteed contract next season is still on his rookie contract. John Wall, Kevin Seraphin, Jordan Crawford, and Trevor Booker are entering their third years, while Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton will be second-year players. The Wizards are a young team and figure to get a little younger in June, with three draft picks, including a top-five selection.
The primary goal of 2012/13 for the Wizards should be figuring out which of those young players are long-term core pieces and which are expendable. Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean the kids should get all the playing time — I think Washington's young core would benefit from some veteran leadership, and a healthy Nene is a good start. But the Wizards' focus this summer should be on continuing to surround their young talent with the right kind of veteran presence. That means deciding whether to bring back Blatche or Lewis, or to simply cut their losses.
There's not much chance the Wizards find a trade they like for Blatche, so the amnesty clause seems like the obvious solution to wipe the remaining three years on his contract off the books. Lewis represents a trickier case, since he'll count for nearly $14MM against the cap whether or not he's on the team, but I think it makes sense to let him go. If he's a Wizard next season, Lewis will likely just be playing out the string, looking ahead to eventually joining a contender. Adding a veteran free agent that genuinely wants to be in Washington will have a more positive effect on Wall and the young core — it's just a matter of finding a veteran willing to choose a team coming off a 20-46 season.
March's blockbuster Nene trade was the Wizards' first step in shedding the team's old reputation and building a new-look roster. Parting ways with Blatche and Lewis this summer should be the second step. Washington also has a one-in-five chance of landing Anthony Davis to really fast-track the rebuilding process, but even if the draft lottery isn't kind to them, the Wizards are on the right track with Wall, Nene, and a young nucleus of players that won't get too expensive for a few more years.