By Denton Day
Kevin Durant is this years free agency prize. The former MVP’s contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder is up and he has the ability to take his talents to a different city. For years there have been whispers of Durant possibly making a hero’s return to his hometown of Washington D.C. However, on when the list of teams Durant is planning to visit was released and the Washington Wizards were nowhere to be found.
Not only does the Wizards organization have to recover from the kick below the belt they also have do address the giant question that fans want answered. What now?
The 2015-16 season did not turn out how the Wizards had planned. Coming off of an impressive playoff push to the second round, and one that could have gone further if John Wall did not get hurt, the team expected to be in that same spot this year. Instead they finished 41-41, missed the playoffs and wasted the best season of Wall’s career to this point.
The team wanted to make a transition to the small ball trend that the Golden State Warriors made famous. However, the Wizards did not have enough shooting on the outside, enough depth to run the offense when Wall was not on the floor and did not have a perimeter defender who could guard the opponent’s top scorer.
There is not a standout shutdown defender in this year’s free agency class. The Wizards do have two young forwards in Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre Jr. who they can groom into a lockdown guy. There’s work to do as Porter was supposed to become that guy last year and never made the transition and Oubre was never able to get quality minutes on a consistent basis.
As of now the Wizards have about $25 million of cap room. That will take a hit when they make their first move, which should be to re-sign Bradley Beal. This time last year, Beal let the world know he wanted max money. Sadly he had another season filled with injuries. Despite that, keeping Beal should be the number one priority, but because of the injuries it should not be for a max money deal. That should allow them the ability to spend some of that cap money elsewhere.
Let’s look at some guys who the Wizards could target this summer.
The Wizards are the current frontrunners for Noah’s services, but they must be careful not to overspend. Noah has never been known for his offensive game. He is a physical, defensive stopper who loves to hustle, which is exactly what this Wizards team needs. The Bulls seem to be in a rebuilding mode, which would make Noah in search of a new home. He played most of last season injured. At this point in his career, he is past his prime but he would still be a great addition off the bench.
Seth Curry has not reached the level of his two-time MVP brother Stephen Curry, but Seth can still shoot at a very high level. He can help the Wizards spread the floor in the half-court offense and in transition. The Wizards did not have a lot of success behind the arc last year. Curry could definitely help that and become a great sixth man.
In his first three seasons in the league, Larkin has played for three different teams. He is coming off his best season with the Brooklyn Nets and he can be a guy who can play well when John Wall is not in the game. Adding to that, at only 23 years-old, he can learn a lot from Wall and be a producer for years to come in Washington D.C.
The Wizards originally drafted Booker in 2010 and he was a key contributor in the team’s first playoff run under the Wall and Beal regime in 2014. Booker did not play a crazy amount of minutes that year, but he made all his minutes count. He ran the floor, was active on the glass and had his fair share of blocks and steals. Bringing him back could solidify the front court.
This one is a bit of a long shot given Marcin Gortat is still under contract. To bring Howard in, the Wizards would either have to trade Gortat or bench him, and they are unlikely to put a guy who gets paid $12 million a year on the bench. However, Howard could work really well with Wall. Wall has established a dynamic offensive game but he is more of a pass first point guard. If Howard is okay with running the floor in transition, that pairing matched with Beal’s offensive fire power could spell trouble for other teams in the Eastern Conference.
Other notable players: Kevin Seraphin, Derrick Williams, DJ Augustin, James Michael-McAdoo
The Wizards need to make some sort of upgrade to be sure they do not waste another year of Wall’s prime.