In a few days, when the trade for Jared Dudley can be made official, the Wizards will have rebooted their roster with another quality replacement without having any cap space. They used one of two remaining trade exceptions and still have the mid-level and bi-annual exceptions at their disposal, too.
This puts them in a good position. They can act now and simply take the best player available in free agency with the $5.5 million mid-level. Or they could wait and see how everything shakes out. Every year, a quality player (see Paul Pierce last summer) gets squeezed out. Pierce's first choice was the Los Angeles Clippers, who he left for earlier this week, but they'd used their mid-level on Spencer Hawes and he wasn't willing to take the veteran minimum ($1.4 million) no matter how much he liked coach Doc Rivers. Rivers, who also makes personnel decisions, acted too quickly in rewarding Hawes rather than being patient. Imagine how much better the 56-win Clippers would've done in this past season's playoffs with Pierce instead of Hawes who contributed zilch.
So there's nothing wrong with waiting. Another quality player will be out there, likely a veteran who wants to join a playoff team that can get deep and contend. Where the Wizards stand going into Day 3 of free agency, keeping in mind they can have as many as 15 players under contract for the start of the 2015-16 regular season:
Under contract: John Wall, Bradley Beal, Ramon Sessions, Otto Porter, Garrett Temple, Martell Webster, Nene, Marcin Gortat, Kelly Oubre, Kris Humphries, DeJuan Blair and Dudley (12).
Most likely free agent to return: Drew Gooden (1).
Best fit from free-agent pool: David West, Rodney Stuckey, Lou Williams, Chris Copeland, Gerald Green, Derrick Williams, Wayne Ellington.
Using history as a guide, the Wizards prefer to keep one spot open to keep flexibility. That comes in handy during the season for transactions such as signing a free agent for need in the event of an injury or a quality veteran being bought out of his deal by the January deadline. And it also allows them to have room for a player such as Dez Wells, who is on the summer league roster as an undrafted free agent, to possibly earn a spot by training camp. Fill the final spot now before surveying diamonds in the rough at summer league (including free agents on other rosters) and the Wizards could regret it.
This would mean they'd likely use the mid-level, an exception to the cap that's available each season, and not use the bi-annual. Of course, Gooden isn't guaranteed to return for a third season which would create another spot. But his 6-10 frame, ability to stretch to the three-point line and affordability might be too tempting to pass up. Why go for Copeland, a similar player who opted out of a contract with the Indiana Pacers that paid him more than $3 million, when Gooden can be had for less and has been shown loyalty to the franchise?
These are decisions that face the Wizards in the coming days.