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Morning tip: Wizards enter market with 5 'openings'

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Morning tip: Wizards enter market with 5 'openings'

Free agency opens in less than 24 hours, and the Wizards don't have a lot of wiggle room. Aside from the bi-annual and mid-level exceptions, they also have a pair of trade exceptions. The one they gained in the deal with the Houston Rockets for Trevor Ariza and in the deal that sent Andre Miller to the Sacramento Kings four months ago.

The traded player exception can be packaged in a deal to help a team acquire a player without giving up one so they have value. They expire in one year which means the Ariza exception, which is about $2 million, is on the clock.  

The status of the Wizards' unrestricted free agents, in order of importance, and how it'll be impacted by the decision from No. 1:

  • Paul Pierce: Yes, the small forward has opted out the second year of his deal but the Wizards expect him to return. Pierce's other landing spot is the L.A. Clippers because of his hometown and affinity for coach Doc Rivers, but their lack of cap space and possibly losing DeAndre Jordan agency lessens their chances. By default, the Wizards' chances skyrocket and can have him play ahead or behind Otto Porter and allowing first-round pick Kelly Oubre acclimate to the pros or sent to the D-League. If Pierce returns, that means the Wizards probably will fill the bi-annual exception with a guard. 
  • Drew Gooden: The power forward's three-point shooting puts him on the short list of priorities. Pierce's return impacts this somewhat, but Gooden still is 6-10 on a roster that will lose some size. Gooden's versatility guarantees him an NBA home. Gooden would like to stay.
  • Rasual Butler: Reached by CSNwashington.com last week, the 6-7 small forward believed no matter where he ends up that he won't have to go to training camp again to earn a contract which is what he did last year. Butler had positive feedback in his exit interviews, he said, with coach Randy Wittman and the front office. However, Pierce's return would almost eliminate the 36-year-old coming back. They'd likely go younger. 
  • Kevin Seraphin: This one is pretty quick and easy. Seraphin is gone, as he outlined after they lost Game 6 to the Atlanta Hawks in a one-on-one with CSN
  • Will Bynum: He did his job, draining clutch foul shots down the stretch of Game 3 vs. Atlanta for a victory. Bynum, however, appears to lack ability to stretch the floor with his shot which is what the Wizards ideally get in a guard. On the flip side, if Bynum is the best option available given the way he plays with pace and energy, that's not a bad thing, either.

MORE WIZARDS: Pick n' Roll: Who's more likely to change teams, Cousins or Love?

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Nickeil Walker-Alexander

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Nickeil Walker-Alexander

The Washington Wizards will have the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...

2019 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Nickeil Alexander-Walker

School: Virginia Tech
Position: Guard
Age: 20 (turns 21 in September)
Height: 6-6
Weight: 204
Wingspan: 6-10
Max vertical: N/A

2018/19 stats: 16.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 4.0 apg, 1.9 spg, 0.5 bpg, 47.4 FG% (5.6/11.8), 37.4 3PT% (1.7/4.6), 77.8 FT%

Player comparison: Shai-Gilgeous Alexander, Tomas Satoransky

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 19th, NBADraft.net 14th, Bleacher Report 18th, Sports Illustrated 20th, Ringer 16th

5 things to know:

*Alexander-Walker is a big guard known for his offensive skillset. He can handle the ball, pass and score in a variety of ways. He can play both point guard and shooting guard and affect games with his passing at either spot. 

*He was an excellent three-point shooter in college. As a freshman, he shot 39.2 percent from long range on 4.5 attempts per game. His percentage dipped as a sophomore to 37.4 percent, but that was still impressive given he attempted 4.6 shots per game. 

*Alexander-Walker has a plus wingspan, which he uses to his advantage on defense. He averaged 1.9 steals per game this past season in Blacksburg and his highlight reels are flooded with open court dunks off turnovers. He appears to have strong instincts as a perimeter defender, but could struggle initially at the NBA level against quicker and stronger guards.

*Though he has great size and length for a guard, Alexander-Walker is not considered a premier athlete for the position. He does not have elite quickness or the ability to play consistently above the rim. Because of that, some wonder how high his ceiling will be in the NBA. He may, however, have a high floor given his well-rounded game and basketball IQ.

*Alexander-Walker is from Canada. He has played for the national team as a junior and is part of a new wave of players from the country in the NBA. Alexander-Walker was a high school teammate of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who just enjoyed a strong rookie season with the L.A. Clippers.

Fit with Wizards: The Wizards need help at just about every position, so even a guard can't be ruled out. Alexander-Walker would give them more backcourt depth and that is needed long-term, even after John Wall returns from injury.

If Alexander-Walker can develop into an above average perimeter defender, he could be very useful for the Wizards. They need to improve at stopping dribble penetration and three-point shooters. They could use more players with Alexander-Walker's length and ability to force turnovers. Also, he would help spread the floor with his shooting.

All that said, the Wizards could probably find a player with more upside than Alexander-Walker with the ninth overall pick. He would be more in line with their decision to take Troy Brown Jr. last June.

Like Brown, he is smart and a safe bet to carve out a long NBA career. But could Alexander-Walker become an elite player at his position? He seems like a better option if they trade down into the teens and acquire more picks.

Best highlight video:

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Are the Wizards waiting too long to choose a new team president?

Are the Wizards waiting too long to choose a new team president?

The Washington Wizards have operated throughout their search for a new team president with patience and for a while it appeared that approach had paid off, as they got close to filling the position over the weekend before Tim Connelly returned to Denver. That patience, though, could be put to the test very soon.

The NBA Combine is already in the books. So, unless they decide to promote interim president Tommy Sheppard, the person who will ultimately be making the call with the ninth overall pick on draft night will have been absent from the face-to-face interviews they conducted in Chicago, IL. It is not ideal, but by waiting this long clearly the Wizards have made peace with that.

They still have some time between now and the Wizards' pre-draft workouts which are not scheduled to begin until the first week of June. The draft is still about a month away and the deadline to extend qualifying offers to their restricted free agents is June 30. 

Whomever leads this team will need to decide on guys like Tomas Satoransky, Thomas Bryant and Bobby Portis. But still, there is time. 

What could throw the biggest wrench into the Wizards' timeline is the impending announcement of All-NBA teams. If Bradley Beal makes All-NBA, which the ballots that have been made public already suggest he has a very good chance to do so, he will be eligible for a supermax contract. 

That would present the Wizards with a complicated situation, one that wouldn't need to be settled overnight but would instantly become the most important story surrounding the team. 

A supermax for Beal is projected to be worth $194 million over four years and would start in the 2021-22 season. With John Wall already signed to a supermax contract, it would be difficult to afford both and still fill out the rest of a competitive roster. Two players would make 70-plus percent of the cap.

If the Wizards determine they can't pay both Beal and Wall long-term, something will have to give. It could lead to a trade.

Deciding on Beal's future, one could argue, may end up being one of the most important calls the Wizards' next team president will have to make in their entire career in Washington. And they would be faced with it as soon as they take the job.

Depending on the timing, the question could even define their introductory press conference. The new president and owner Ted Leonsis would certainly be asked about it.

That is all not to mention how the job could be viewed if Beal makes All-NBA before the position is filled. Anyone who takes the Wizards job will already be doing so with an understanding that it may take time to build a contender given Wall's contract and the fact he is coming off Achilles surgery.

On top of all that, there would be questions about whether the Wizards would offer Beal the contract and, if they offered it, whether he would take it. Beal already raised some doubt about whether he would accept the money, given he has already made plenty in his career and wants to win. 

That standoff could lead to a barrage of trade rumors, which can overshadow just about anything in today's NBA. Just ask the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Beal decision technically would not have to be made for months. If he makes All-NBA, he won't be able to sign the supermax until July 6, when the free agency moratorium ends. They can sign Beal to an extension all the way up until the day before the 2019-20 regular season begins.

But it could become a pressing issue very soon and before the Wizards' next team architect even takes the job.

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