In the context of the 2015-16 season, the Washington Wizards are no more, but the start of free agency will be here soon enough. Before July 1 arrives, the NBA playoffs provide a showcase for the various shooters, wings and bigs possibly of interest for the Wizards. After examining the upcoming free agents that started their postseason journey Saturday, we look at those getting things started Sunday. In some cases, these aren't the top tier options, but those who can help Washington fill out its roster. Even if we count restricted free agent Bradley Beal among the returning, the Wizards will have likely nine open roster spots open.
Cleveland Cavaliers (1) vs. Detroit Pistons (8)
- Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld stated during Thursday's press conference that the organization wasn't wedded to any specific scheme despite Washington transitioning to a pace-and-space approach this past season. That makes identifying role players a bit tricky, but Detroit forward Anthony Tolliver would be suited as a 4th or 5th big man if the plan remains the same. The 6-foot-8 veteran won't wow anyone with his steady game, but he also won't be lost on either end of the court. Tolliver, who turns 31in June, took 272 of his 332 field goal attempts this season from beyond the 3-point arc, sinking a healthy 36 percent.
- As for depth behind point guard John Wall, Mo Williams can op-out of his contract after a bumpy season with the Cavaliers. Steve Blake, 36, showed this season with the Pistons he can still produce as a shooter and distributor (200 assists to 81 turnovers).
East: Miami Heat (3) vs. Charlotte Hornets (6)
- Let's mention Hassan Whiteside because the 7-foot force will easily be one of the most interesting players in free agency this summer after averaging 14.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.7 blocks for the Heat this season. There's little question about the physical and production upside with the 26-year-old, especially on the defensive end. There are major questions about whether any team can control the combustible center once handed a massive contract. Miami largely kept the emotional Whiteside in check, but not every team has a jedi like Pat Riley involved. As for the Wizards, this is a non-starter as long as Marcin Gortat remains on the roster. Also, if this is the type of player the franchise is willing to gamble on, better off calling Sacramento or DeMarcus Cousins instead.
- We'll see what the world looks like after the playoffs, but Nicolas Batum might be the ideal (realistic) fit for the Wizards this summer (non-Kevin Durant division). Like Bradley Beal, Batum isn't a "franchise" player, but will be paid like one this summer because of market conditions. It's also fair to say the 6-foot-8 swingman helped the Hornets rebound back into a playoff squad with his two-way play and savvy skill set. The Wizards need another creator besides John Wall and Charlotte often runs its offense through Batum, who set career-highs with 14.9 points and 5.8 assists this season while grabbing 6.1 rebounds. The career 36% percent 3-point shooter has never shot below 80 percent on free throws during any of his eight seasons. Spreading the court with a Batum-Porter-Morris-Beal-Wall lineup could be deadly offensively. Snaking him from Charlotte would also weaken a division rival.
East: San Antonio Spurs (2) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (7)
- Kevin Martin, the perennial trade deadline contract dump target, enters free agency. The 33-year-old is on the back-nine of his career, but can still be a 3-point threat (36.0% in 2015-16). Good bet the 6-foot-7 wing has at least major moment or quarter during San Antonio's postseason run. For the Wizards, Martin could be a taller and better version of Gary Neal.
- If the goal involves getting more athletic and younger, Grizzlies guard P.J. Hairston is worth watching. Stats generated by the former 1st round pick out of North Carolina won't wow anyone, certainly not from distance (29 percent on 3-pointers). Yet Hairston offers youth (23), good size at 6-foot-5 and his free throw percentage (81.0) indicates the potential for turning him into a better spot shooter.
West: Los Angeles Clippers (4) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (5)
- Could this be the year the PG County kid and versatile forward returns home? By that we mean former Georgetown star Jeff Green, of course. Equally talented and confounding over his career, the Clippers forward is no longer considered a top-line player, but can be helpful and then some when his game is on point. The 6-foot-9 threat can score in bunches and provides that stretchy element from the power forward slot (career 34% 3-point shooter). Also plays small (4.9 career rebound average). Wouldn't help protect the rim yet could serve as a viable third big man capable of backing up and playing with Markieff Morris.
- Come up with a list of random Wizards killers over the year and Gerald Henderson makes the cut. Coming off the bench primarily for the first time since his rookie season, the 6-foot-5 wing guard shot a career-high 35.3 percent from beyond the arc for surprising Portland. Henderson, 28, averages 11.7 points for his career and provides help on the other end of the court. Would serve as a Bradley Beal injury hedge, but also provide Washington with three-guard possibilities.