If we're being honest, most and perhaps all of the Wizards' offseason moves lack pizzazz. That's no biggie outside of box office concerns. Individually, the new additions are largely justifiable. All but one.
Apologies for singling out Marcus Thornton, though this discussion is less about the player and more about the decision to re-sign the veteran guard so early in free agency. It's also over a back-of-the-bench type, which is to say the season won't rise or fall on this single call, even one this hmmm inducing.
Other than actual talent, the most valuable commodities for NBA teams during free agency are salary cap space and roster spots. After three signings (Ian Mahinmi, Andrew Nicholson, Jason Smith), one trade (Trey Burke) and two yet-to-be-signed agreements (Bradley Beal, Tomas Satoransky), the Wizards are essentially out of cap space.
Yet flexibility remains. There's the $2.9 million "room" exception. Another trade perhaps. The Las Vegas Summer League is about unearthing (cost-effective) talent and the Wizards' roster alone includes a few intriguing prospects. Most of all, there are roster spots. With the new guys plus the six returnees, Washington had 11 of its potential 15 slots filled by July 5. That left room for:
* Veteran wing capable of sliding in should Beal's injury history resurface or the unproven options (Kelly Oubre Jr., Satoransky) aren't immediately ready for large roles.
* More perimeter shooting beyond Beal.
* Young prospects to help fill in the gap from having no 2016 draft picks.
Two days later, they re-signed Thornton to a one-year deal. The cost, a veteran's minimum, is negligible. Giving up the roster spot before Summer League tipped and with free agency still flowing is not.
There is nothing wrong with having a player like Thornton, if not the actual Thornton on a roster. Signed by Washington late last season following his release from Houston, the volume shooter helped stabilize the backcourt by providing scoring punch, though he only sank a third of his 3-point attempts. Since the 6-foot-4 Thornton, 29, offers little in the way of athleticism or ball handling or defense, we're looking at a non-rotational fifth guard.
Teams need fifth guards. They just don't need one with scant upside (again, sorry, Marcus) seven days into free agency. Players with Thornton's general skill set and journeyman résumé (seven teams in seven seasons) are available in August after other options fade or October when training camp starts, if not January or February.
If Beal misses 19 or more games for the fourth time in five seasons, Thornton isn't the day-to-day answer. Alan Anderson, if the docs say he's good to go following an injury-plagued season, could be. Bringing back the swingman or another experienced option would make the Thornton add even odder.
Jarell Eddie ended up buried on Randy Wittman's bench last season, but his quick shot release can bury bombs. The Wizards delayed any decision on the 24-year-old's contract for next season. The franchise handed out partially guaranteed contracts to three undrafted rookies: guard Sheldon McClellan, forward Danuel House, and center Daniel Ochefu. Those deals are about allowing Washington a longer look into training camp without any major long-term commitment. Aaron White, the Wizards' 2015 second-round pick, is with team in Vegas. Israeli product Shawn Dawson might dribble-drive his way into a camp invite while Nate Wolters could impress with his floor game,
These are the type of players, all 25 and under, that ideally fill the final 2-3 roster spots especially for a team:
* Looking to get younger after going the AARP route in recent seasons
* That should take flyers on potential seeing as that over the last three NBA Drafts (six rounds) they made only two picks.
If the kids flame out during Summer League (which they didn't) or land better offers elsewhere, should Anderson talks stall, that's when Thornton's number is dialed. He's useful. Teams need bench scoring. They also ideally aim for more with precious roster spots one week into free agency.