It's that time of year again for the Wizards, who lost in the second round of the NBA playoffs for the third time in four seasons. But they're in a better position now to retool than they were in previous years, when they were older and their best players John Wall and Bradley Beal dealing with repeated soreness and offseason restrictions because of health.
That's not the case after going 49-33 and pushing the Boston Celtics to Game 7 under first-year coach Scott Brooks.
-- Free agency. They have to extend qualifying offers to Otto Porter and Bojan Bogdanovic before July 1 to keep them restricted free agents, which gives the Wizards first right of refusal to retain them. If they don't do this, they become unrestricted and are free to leave. Locking them in with the qualifier is a cheaper salary cap hit in the short term while they can renegotiate with both or allow the players to field an offer sheet from another team and give the Wizards a chance to match to retain them. Trey Burke is the other restricted free agent, but it's doubtful they extend him a qualifying offer and allow him to find a new home in free agency.
--Top priority. A capable backup point guard for Wall. Burke wasn't the answer and Tomas Satoransky wasn't ready to fill that void. They made the late addition of Brandon Jennings who is unrestricted. Earlier in the season they traded Marcus Thornton. In the playoffs especially, a backup for Wall is vital because it's easier to exploit weak links. Jennings wasn't a reliable shooter, had difficulty getting the offense started though they didn't run a lot of sets and was a major liability on defense as he allowed dribble penetration. Although Ramon Sessions was a shoot-first backup a year ago and had difficulty defending pick-and-rolls, he was light years ahead of what the Wizards had behind Wall this season. A two-way player would be ideal. A combo guard with the size and three-point shooting ability to slot behind Beal, too, would be even better.
--Non-guaranteed players. Daniel Ochefu and Sheldon McClellan didn't play much and their salaries for next season are non-guaranteed which means they can be cut without penalty at any time. Brooks is putting a lot into the development but it depends on not just where they're at individually but how the roster will be remade before figuring out if they fit. Chris McCullough, who was a throw-in from Brooklyn in the trade that brought in Bogdanovic, has an option that could be picked up by October. McClellan appears to be the most likely of the bunch to stick if there was room for just one. He played the most.
--Center pieces. Marcin Gortat isn't happy with his role. Ian Mahinmi makes more money per year and has more years left on his deal. The problem, of course, is Mahinmi's health. If Gortat isn't the answer or wants out -- and he left open the possibility he could -- then what's the next move? The Wizards still would need another big but one that has range would be ideal.
--Predraft workouts. The Wizards traded their late first-round pick in the deal that brought Bogdanovic but still have the No. 52 pick in the second round on June 22. They'll bring in a series of players to look at but more often than not they have an idea of what type of player they want already. These workouts are a matter of double checking the homework for accuracy. It's very rare that a player is brought in and goes from off the radar to being drafted because of that workout.
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