Fresh off a loss to the Raptors in Game 6 of the First Round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs, Wizards’ point guard John Wall spoke at length on Saturday about changes he’d like to see to the Wizards’ roster next season, writes Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. When asked what type of players should be added to the roster, Wall pulled no punches, yet was quick to assure that his postseason evaluation was not directed at any particular teammates.
“There’s a lot that we can use. I really don’t have to say certain positions. There are certain things that people who have been around the team understand what we could use to help our team. It’s not throwing shade to anybody that is on our team because everyone that is on our roster gave everything they have to make it work and fit with the team, but at the same time, when it’s not working and then you try and you try and you try and it keeps failing over and over, then you have to make certain adjustments and certain changes.”
Wall further elaborated, telling reporters he is in support of the Wizards bringing in an “athletic big”, which could of course be interpreted as a slight at Marcin Gortat, who clashed with Wall when Wall was injured earlier this season, and little-used big man Ian Mahinmi who, in hindsight, was grossly overpaid in the spend-happy summer of 2016. Combined, Gortat and Mahinmi will make just north of $29.5MM next season.
Unfortunately for the Wizards, adding worthwhile free agents this offseason, per Wall’s imploring, will be no easy task. Washington already has nearly $116MM tied up in guaranteed contracts for 2018/19, not counting player options for Jason Smith and Jodie Meeks. Should both players opt in, the Wizards payroll would reach $124.8MM – $1.8MM more than next year’s projected luxury tax threshold of $123MM and nearing the apron – before free agency even begins.
Given that the $124.8MM figure only includes 10 players, the Wizards best tool will likely be their taxpayer mid-level exception, which is projected to be about $3.3MM less than the non-taxpayer mid-level exception and limited to three seasons rather than four. Players looking to cash in on a MLE deal this offseason stand to make about an additional $19.2MM over the life of a non-taxpayer MLE contract, thereby lessening the Wizards’ chances of luring meaning free agents to the nation’s capital this summer. For his part, Wall thinks players should nevertheless entertain the idea of coming to Washington.
“I think those guys that are watching and seeing understand what they can add and what we might need to make our team better to finally get over the second round or get through the first round like we didn’t this year.”