The weeklong vacation is over and now the Wizards are in a holding pattern as they await Thursday's 3 p.m. ET trade deadline. Even in the event that they do nothing -- believing that a fully healthy roster for the first time all season is enough to get over the hump and back into the playoff picture -- they still have options on the table.
Ryan Anderson (Pelicans) and Miles Plumlee (Bucks) have long been floated as possibilities for the Wizards, but the there are two keys to focus on with any deal that's made: The Wizards would prefer to avoid picking up too much additional salary that locks them in beyond this season -- a posture they held true to during this time a year ago -- and giving up draft picks without any guarantees in return.
P.J. Tucker (Suns) is a physical defender with three-point range that seems like a good fit, but he has a partial guarantee of $3.8 million for 2016-17 which pushes him down the board. His teammate Mirza Teletovic, a 6-9, three-point shooting stretch forward, is similar to Anderson in his ability to spread the floor and his $5.5 million deal will expire but he doesn't appear to have generated much interest on this end either.
Anderson is a free agent after this season which meets part of the requirement, but the Wizards will hold a firm line on giving up a first-round pick for him. Why? With Anderson unrestricted, unless they have an understanding that they can re-sign him this summer, he walks and turns out to be a 31-game rental that costs a first-round pick. The Wizards would be open to going after him in the summer though bidding and the growing salary cap inevitably will drive up his pricetag from where it stands at $8.5 million.
Plumlee is affordable ($1.4 million) and expiring and isn't out of the question.
Disabled Player Exception
The Wizards still have a $2.8 million DPE for Martell Webster, who was waived before the season, that can be used until March 10. It can be used in two ways: NBA players can be bought out of their contracts up until March 1, something the Wizards were hoping for a year ago with guards Jameer Nelson and Gary Neal (signed last summer as a free agent).
Washington could absorb a player in the final year of his deal by using the DPE in a trade before the deadline without sending anything more in return than a highly protected second-round pick -- aka a "fake" pick -- to meet CBA requirements to consummate a deal. The sending team would be more concerned here with shedding salary for a pick that would never come to fruition to make it a win-win.
If the Wizards bypass the trade deadline and go the DPE/bought-out free-agent route they're still in good position to pick up the best free agent available. How? The $2.8 million (half of Webster's salary) isn't a pro-rated amount if used on a free agent. While other teams who sign bought-out players to deals that are pro-rated based on veteran minimum salaries, the Wizards could sign someone for the full amount for two months' work. They'd probably stop short of that, however, to stay out of the luxury tax (about $2.4 million at most). The Wizards are an over-the-salary-cap-but-under-the-luxury-tax team.
The DPE doesn't allow for a 16th player. The Wizards still have to waive someone to make room by using the DPE.
And, of course, they can do both: Orchestrate a trade by the deadline and waive a player/use the DPE by March 10 as long as they stay out of the tax.
Whatever the decision by Washington, if anything, it likely happens Thursday as other dominoes fall. The strategy served them well two years ago when they brought in Andre Miller (trade) and Drew Gooden (unsigned free agent) to revive a struggling bench and Ramon Sessions (trade) last season to make playoff runs.
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