LAS VEGAS -- The Wizards are in the midst of a good run at summer league, with Kelly Oubre’s playing like a lottery pick and quality free agents battling for just a training camp invite going into today’s quarterfinal game vs. the Chicago Bulls.
The result is important to the players who want to win. But the bigger picture takes precedent. If it wasn’t clear how much different the Wizards’ roster was shaping up after the start of free agency when they shifted to Plan C and D, it should be now. Whether or not it works out won’t be known for months:
- Yes, there were other plans and anyone who suggests otherwise were overreacting to what they thought was inaction. Ernie Grunfeld didn’t buy a second-round pick in the 2016 draft or land Kevin Durant. That didn't mean there was no plan. It's just that everything paled in comparison after no Durant. Al Horford, Luol Deng and Ryan Anderson were strongly considered. That the Wizards were one of the final two teams Horford, a four-time All-Star, decided between isn’t a monumental failure of some sort. This was a 41-41 team that didn’t make the playoffs and unlike Durant he gave the Wizards a face-to-face meeting in Atlanta. That Horford thought highly enough to have the Wizards on his short list counts for something though ultimately it resulted in nothing. Acquiring him would’ve caused other dominoes to fall given his skill set and position but after Horford there weren’t many attractive options out there to extend a monster contract with an exploding salary cap.
- Marcin Gortat is the starting center. Multiple league sources, as late as Friday night, told CSNmidatlantic.om that it’s not in the cards to make a move with the 6-11 center because of Ian Mahinmi’s signing (four years, $64 million). Of course, it's never safe to say never but as for now that appears to be the case.
- Mahinmi being brought in as a backup isn't problematic but what about the size of the contract? It’s an indication of how highly Grunfeld regards him because of his defensive strengths. He has been a backup most of his career but doesn’t have the mileage of a 29-year-old. It’s still a hefty raise for a player who made $4 million as a starting center on a playoff team, the Indiana Pacers, last season. The Wizards could’ve had Zaza Pachulia, CSN has confirmed with multiple league sources, for less (two years, $20 million) but went with Mahinmi instead. There were discussions between the sides but the Wizards were non-committal and Pachulia ended up signing with the Golden State Warriors for just one year and $3 million. Pachulia is three years older and faded down the stretch last season with the Dallas Mavericks. Mahinmi could end up being better in 2016-17, but $13 million-a-year better? How both perform next season will be worth monitoring.
- The Wizards aren’t done with summer league because more roster changes look imminent. Getting Jarell Eddie to agree to push back is guarantee date Friday makes that obvious. The Wizards want to keep flexibility to do something else with the promise to Eddie that he’ll be taken care off ($980,000). Eddie has done more than enough to earn his regular-season roster spot. The Wizards still will have a couple spots open and have paid small guarantees to Danuel House, Daniel Ochefu and Sheldon McClellan to attend training camp in September. At least one of them makes the cut and they'll keep that final spot open, likely for a veteran, as this roster has quickly skewed younger in age and experience.