With the intense NBA offseason cooling down, there is time for reflection on what the Washington Wizards accomplished and a chance to look at the road ahead. For the next couple of weeks,CSNWashington.com Insider J. Michael and Wizards correspondent Ben Standig will examine various issues and answer questions as the Wizards move toward the 2015-16 campaign.
Let's start simple. What was your favorite move by the Wizards this offseason?
J. Michael: Of the moves they’ve made, Gary Neal. They were waiting for him to be bought out of his contract last season when he was traded to the Minnestoa Timberwolves, but they held onto him. The open roster spot the Wizards had after they got rid of Glen Rice was for Ray Allen if he wanted to play again (he didn’t). When Neal was moved by the Charlotte Hornets, he was next in line.
The lack of shooters has been an issue for Washington ever since Martell Webster’s downfall from his third back surgery. Neal is more of a natural two-guard who has to be picked up the moment he crosses half-court. Putting him opposite of Bradley Beal with John Wall running the point should result in a lot of floor spacing and more room for Marcin Gortat to operate in the low post.
Ben Standig: I'm already slightly breaking the rules with a two-part answer. First off, in terms of actual transactions, let's go with the trade for Jared Dudley. The acquisition cost was virtually nothing. Second, Dudley is a true stretch-4, which as we all know is what this team needed. He's a career 40 percent 3-point shooter who doesn't need plays run for him to be effective. That Dudley is seven years younger than Pierce means coach Randy Wittman should have no issue using small ball lineups throughout the regular season. We saw how effective that formation worked last postseason. Last but not least, we're talking about one of the top locker room presences in the league. Dudley worked closely with Milwaukee's young forward last season and he's made it clear he intends to do the same with Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre Jr. Yes, there is the back surgery aspect. Can't brush this under the rug. That said, the timeline suggests Dudley might not miss any games. The Wizards have enough talent to overcome any absence if he does, in the short-term, that is.
Oh, almost forgot about the second part of my answer. All their moves in 2015 were made with 2016 in mind and we all know why. Now, it's not Kevin Durant or bust in 2016, but Washington's moves ensured it remained in play when the local hero becomes a free agent next summer. No half measure here. Whether KD2DC happens or not, the Wizards must do like the commercial says and go for it.