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Best NBA free agents available for Wizards based on needs and salary cap constraints

Best NBA free agents available for Wizards based on needs and salary cap constraints

Now that Paul George is off the board, heading to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Wizards can move on with their re-signing Otto Porter to a healthy extension. 

They'll have two exceptions under the $99 million salary cap at the mid-level ($8.4 million) and bi-annual ($3 million) which allow them to exceed it.

Their two biggest needs when the period opens officially at 12:01 a.m. are a shooter behind Bradley Beal and a wing and/or on-ball defender. In the latter, they could be able to find both in one package.

Since the Wizards don't have much wiggle room, they'll likely act quickly.

Best fits

  • James Johnson (Heat): I voted for him as Sixth Man of the Year. It was a breakout season. He was able to defend -- and play on offense -- all five positions. Miami didn't make the playoffs, but it was the first team to maximize his skill-set at just $4 million. Chances are the 30-year-old will cash in with a big offer which would put him out of Washington's range. But he averaged a career-high in points (12.9), rebounds (4.9) and assists (3.6) off the bench. Can count the number of players in the league who can defend 1-5 on one hand. Johnson is one of them. 

 

  • Tony Allen (Grizzlies): Averaged 9.1 points in 66 starts but even at 35 he's an All-Defensive player. Allen gets his offense in the open court and off transition rather than half court. He lives to defend.

 

  • Thabo Sefolosha (Hawks): He's a wing defender who can make the occasional three. Earned $4 million and given his limitations and age (33), shouldn't be expensive.

[RELATED: Top 20 NBA Free Agents]

  • Justin Holiday (Knicks): Who wouldn't want to get out of New York? He completed the second year of a two-year deal that paid him $2 million. Dropped a career-high 7.7 points and shot 35.5% from the field. Not staggering numbers but good enough to sell upside if he plays on a good team where he can get set up for better shots. His pricetag should be in the Wizards' wheelhouse.

 

  • Jodie Meeks (Magic): Comes at a low risk with a high reward. The downside is he has played an average of 33 games in each of the last three season. When he plast played a full season, Meeks averaged 15.7 points for the L.A. Lakers. Earned $6.5 million in Orlando last season and it's unlikely he'll be in high demand given his recent injury spate. But he can shoot 40% from three.

 

  • Ben McLemore (Kings): Never took off despite being a lottery pick and Sacramento has given up on the shooting guard. He shot 38.2% from three last season but fell out of the starting lineup in averaging 8.1 points. He's just 24 and earned $4 million in 2016-17.

[RELATED: Wizards' recent history bodes well for Otto Porter's future]

 

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Ted Leonsis maintains optimism amid harsh reality of John Wall injury

Ted Leonsis maintains optimism amid harsh reality of John Wall injury

CAPITAL ONE ARENA -- It might be quite a while before we see John Wall on the court playing for the Wizards again.

It was already well-known Wall will miss extended time as he recovers from a ruptured Achilles tendon, a rehab that usually takes at least 11 months. But it is starting to sound more and more like he won't play in the 2019-20 season at all.

Wizards managing partner Ted Leonsis shared that harsh reality on Monday during a press conference at Capital One Arena.

"Our highest-paid player, our five-time All-Star, may not play at all next year. He probably won't play at all next year," Leonsis said.

If Wall follows the general timeline for the surgery, he could come back sometime early in 2020. A 12-month recovery would have him return in early February.

If Wall missed all of next season, he would return to start the 2020-21 campaign after a 20-month recovery. That would be nearly double the rehab time many players have taken for the same injury over the years. He would be 30 years old by then.

But Wall and the Wizards have reason to be extra patient. He is entering the first season of a four-year, $170 million supermax contract. Punting the first year, even if he is making $38 million, could be worth it in the long run if it means he returns to his All-Star form.

The Wizards are also likely to have a gap year of sorts anyways. They retooled their roster with young, inexperienced players. The odds they make the playoffs this season are lower than they have been in years. The Wizards are taking the long view and they know getting Wall's rehab right is paramount.

Leonsis and team officials currently get daily reports on Wall's progress. After making the supermax investment, they are taking extra measures to ensure he is holding up his end of the bargain. The Wizards closely monitor his weight and have a rotation of physical therapists working with him every day.

If it were up to Wall, he would be more likely to return next season. The team is the side taking extra caution.

"Trust me, nobody wants to get back to the court more than John Wall," GM Tommy Sheppard told NBC Sports Washington. 

"But I've tried to manage this with him and say there is no calendar or clock that is going to tell you to come back. You're going to come back when you're 100 percent healthy. Anybody who has watched him in the playoffs play with broken hands and all of the aches and pains he's had over the years and he still showed up and played at a high, high level. You know you need to monitor him a little more than most. That's the kind of player that is going to try to sneak back on the court any time he can."

What Leonsis said publicly has been the belief behind the scenes in the Wizards organization for quite some time. They are preparing for next season as if he won't play, 

"We have to see if John Wall comes back and how he looks and how he plays," Leonsis told NBC Sports Washington. "If John Wall can come back at 80 percent the year after [in 2020-21], I would be really happy because then we would have a great, great backcourt."

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SPOILER ALERT! Wizards make appearance in New York Times crossword on Sunday

SPOILER ALERT! Wizards make appearance in New York Times crossword on Sunday

Fans of both crossword puzzles and the Washington Wizards had a leg-up when completing the New York Times crossword puzzle on Sunday. 

The clue: "Wizards, but not witches."

The answer: 7 letters, "NBATEAM." 

This isn't the first time famous crosswords have included sports-related clues. The Washington Post and LA Times have used Bobby Orr as an answer many of times (trust me, we always have a half-finished crossword puzzle hiding somewhere in our living room). 

But athletes aren't the only answers to clues. Remember when the Post's Isabelle Khurshudyan revealed the Washington Capitals' "cult of crossword men" back in 2016?

The New York Times even published a list of the top-10 sports names to know for crossword fanatics everywhere. 

Just further proof that sports continue to permeate every aspect of life. 

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