Washington Wizards 2021 Offseason Outlook


Overview


The Washington Wizards completed the 2020-2021 NBA season with a record of 34-38 which placed them at 8th in the Eastern Conference and equal 17th in the league with the Indiana Pacers. After a remarkable second half of the season, the Wizards qualified for the play-in tournament and after losing their first game to the Celtics, they beat the Pacers to make it into the playoffs. Unfortunately, they were no match for the Philadelphia 76ers and were eliminated from the first round in five games. The Wizards were one of the worst teams in the NBA to start the season and immediately, Bradley Beal trade rumours started circling. After a trade with the Houston Rockets to bring in Russell Westbrook had time to settle, the Wizards made some rapid improvements and became a consistently competitive team in the East. Now, looking to the offseason, the Wizards will have a lot of important decisions to make, whether it be on the trade market or in free agency with a large portion of their team unsigned for next season.


Salary Cap


Currently, the Washington Wizards have 7 players with guaranteed contracts for the 2021-2022 NBA season. They do not have any player or team options but there is some non-guaranteed salary on the books that needs to be decided on. Daniel Gafford, Anthony Gill, and Caleb Homesley all have small, non-guaranteed contracts for next season, and I expect all of them to return due to the large amount of roster space the Wizards have. Isaac Bonga is a restricted free agent with bird rights along with Garrison Mathews and Cassius Winston who are both two-way free agents. The Wizards will also have several unrestricted free agents including Robin Lopez, Ish Smith, Alex Len, and Raul Neto. Even with a large portion of their players entering free agency, the Wizards will still be over the cap and therefore will only have the $9.5 million mid-level exception and $3.7 million bi-annual exception available to them.


Depth Chart 2020-21 Season–

2021 NBA Draft


The Washington Wizards will have the 15th overall pick in the 2021 NBA draft and will likely look to draft with this pick unless a potential trade for a superstar comes onto the table. The Wizards could use some guard or wing depth but, like most teams, would be happy with best prospect available at this point in the draft. With the 15th pick in this year’s draft, the Washington Wizards should look to target Josh Giddey, a 6’8” point guard out of Australia. Giddey is a really intriguing prospect and could be one of the best playmakers to come out of this draft. After completing an impressive season in the Australian league, Giddey has seen his stock lowly rise, especially after some impressive minutes for the Australian Boomers in the Olympic exhibition matches. With his size and ability to find the open shot, Giddey could become a great prospect at the point guard position. He will need to improve his shooting and man-to-man defence to make a name for himself in this league but is definitely a top 15 prospect in this draft and the Wizards shouldn’t hesitate to take him if he falls this low.


Free Agency


The Washington Wizards will enter free agency with several free agents and very limited cap space to resign them. To start with, the Wizards should look to resign Isaac Bonga who is a restricted free agent with bird rights that I don’t expect to get too much interest from other teams. They will also likely only be able to bring back one of their unrestricted free agents and I think it should be Alex Len. He has been a surprisingly solid backup center for them and with their main center coming back from injury, Len will be able to provide a consistent bench big man to back up Bryant. With their limited cap space, the Wizards may have to look to the trade market to improve their team. Recently, there have been reports that the Los Angeles Lakers are interested in a point guard to add to their team and there have also been reports that they are interested in Westbrook as one of their top options. Theoretically, the Lakers could work out a sign-and-trade involving Schroder, Kuzma and Horton-Tucker in return for Westbrook. This would end up benefitting both teams. The Lakers would get the point guard they were after while offloading some assets that they likely weren’t going to keep around for their current championship push. In return, the Wizards get several young players that could use a fresh start to get back into form and develop without the pressure of contending for a title to hold them back.



Summary


The Washington Wizards will enter the offseason with limited flexibility to improve. They will have a draft pick just outside of the lottery but no cap space to sign free agents. Their best bet will be to trade one of their stars for a group of assets that they can either develop or move on for other draft capital. If a decent offer for Bradley Beal comes up, it would be worthwhile to consider the direction of this franchise and if they can contend for a championship with Beal as their best player. Fans can either expect a competitive season or a tank for the draft but either way they will have something to look forward to moving forward.


Projected Depth Chart 2021/22 Season –