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Drafting Rui Hachimura and the impact it has on Jabari Parker’s future

Drafting Rui Hachimura and the impact it has on Jabari Parker’s future

Sometime in the next week, the Wizards are expected to decline the $20 million team option for Jabari Parker's contract. The deadline is technically June 29, but the move has been predictable since the day they traded for him. 

With their salary cap constraints and the majority of their roster to fill out, that direction is easy to deduce. The real question is whether the Wizards and Parker will come to terms on a new contract to keep him in Washington.

There is some motivation on both sides. The Wizards like Parker's athleticism and scoring ability and believe he has underrated upside. And Parker genuinely enjoys playing in Washington.

Continuing their partnership, though, may not be cheap. Parker's asking price is expected to start around $15 million annually, NBC Sports Washington has learned, and that number could go up or down.

His market is unpredictable after a season in which he averaged 14.5 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists while shooting 49.3 percent from the field. Asking around the league for Parker's salary projection often brings some variation of the answer: 'good question.'

The Wizards would probably need Parker's price to go down to make it work and especially now that they added a first round pick in Rui Hachimura who plays a similar game. A common player comparison for Hachimura in mock drafts was Parker.

The Wizards also have other players with high priority to retain like Thomas Bryant and Tomas Satoransky, both restricted free agents. They also have restricted free agent Bobby Portis, who would be the most expensive to keep.

Parker, though, has some motivation to consider any offer from the Wizards. He really liked playing in D.C. and considered it the best fit of his career so far.

Parker indicated as much both publicly and privately. And he remains very fond of the Wizards organization now that months have passed, according to someone familiar with his free agent plans.

His time with the Bulls, of course, was a nightmare that ended in a trade following a disagreement with the coaching staff. So, that one is easy to see. But he was also happier playing in Washington than he was in Milwaukee.

At this point in his career, comfort and fit could be more important than ever. At 24, he is still young and has the chance to continue ascending as an NBA player.

But his stock is not exactly at an all-time high after splitting the 2018-19 season on bad teams with his reputation getting dragged through the mud by anonymous sources while he was in Chicago. He also has a well-documented injury history including two ACL tears.

Parker could probably use a reset. A short-term contract could suit him well. If he put up good numbers and helped a team win games, he could set himself up for a more lucrative contract down the road.

Maybe that will be in Washington.


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Wizards’ Isaiah Thomas returns to practice days before season opener

Wizards’ Isaiah Thomas returns to practice days before season opener

Five weeks after undergoing surgery on his left thumb, Wizards point guard Isaiah Thomas returned to practice Sunday and was a full participant.

Originally expected to miss 6-8 weeks in recovery, Thomas is on track to play much sooner than anticipated. Wizards head coach Scott Brooks wouldn’t go as far to say Thomas would be ready for Washington’s season opener against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday, but he did seem optimistic that he’d be playing in the near future.

Thomas signed a one-year minimum deal with the Wizards in July. Once healthy, he’s expected to be the team’s starting point guard with Ish Smith and Justin Robinson coming off the bench.


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Wizards' biggest storylines coming out of the preseason

Wizards' biggest storylines coming out of the preseason

The Wizards closed their 2019-20 preseason schedule with a win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday, which means up next is the regular season opener on Wednesday night in Dallas. Now that the exhibition schedule is (finally) over, here are five takeaways from what we saw...

Injuries have added up

The Wizards entered this preseason with a lot of things to sort out in their rotation due to the significant roster overhaul they went through in the summer. But injuries complicated things further for head coach Scott Brooks, who wasn't offered anything close to a full cupboard to work with.

The most notable injuries were to Isaiah Thomas (thumb) and Troy Brown Jr. (calf). Both players will be key members of the rotation when they recover, but are each on track to miss the start of the regular season. The same goes for C.J. Miles, who has a foot injury. There is also Ian Mahinmi, who has an Achilles issue, though he is not likely to play a big role on the team this season.

Hachimura looks the part

The early returns on rookie Rui Hachimura have been good. The 2019 ninth overall pick has not looked timid or out of place on an NBA floor. He has shown he can attack the rim assertively and has even made a few threes. Those two areas will be key to watch for him this season; how he can adapt to NBA interior defenders and shooting threes from a longer distance.

Hachimura is a likely starter for the Wizards this season and should get ample shot opportunities. He is going to have a chance to be a focal point of the Wizards' offense and probably a long enough leash to play through his mistakes. As a young player, you can't ask for much more than that.

Also impressive this preseason were Moe Wagner, who was much better than he showed in the Las Vegas Summer League, and Thomas Bryant, who looks like he is going to take another step from his breakout season last year. Bryant is more confident knocking down threes and has been a force on the glass. Don't be surprised if he averages a double-double this season.

Small forward is a question

The Wizards had Brown penciled in to be their full-time starting small forward, according to a person familiar with their plans, but his injury is expected to keep him out to start the season. He did a post-practice workout the other day and wasn't moving very quickly, either due to discomfort in his calf or to be extra cautious in fear of a setback.

Either way, he is still rehabbing and so is Miles. The Wizards also released Justin Anderson, leaving them with no obvious choice to start at the three. At this point, it looks likely they will have to either put someone there that is probably best suited for another position like Hachimura, Davis Bertans or Jordan McRae, or roll with someone who is very inexperienced like Bonga or Admiral Schofield. The odds seem better they choose the former.

Final roster spot?

The Wizards now have to decide who gets their final roster spot. The safe money at this point is probably for point guard Justin Robinson and wing Jordan McRae to be the 14th and 15th players on the roster and for Chris Chiozza to have his contract converted to a two-way deal.

The Chiozza part has been speculated for weeks and it is the direction the team is leaning, NBC Sports Washington was told. If Chiozza did get the two-way contract, he could remain with the team to start the season and help fill the void at point guard while Thomas recovers from his left thumb surgery. Chiozza would have 45 days allotted at the NBA level, but that clock would not begin until Oct. 28 when G-League training camps open.

Beal's commitment

This season took on an entirely different tone with Thursday's news Bradley Beal would sign a contract extension with the Wizards. This year had the potential to be overshadowed by Beal's uncertain future, but now that has been put to rest. The trade rumors can be set aside as Beal has made it official his commitment to the Wizards' plan.

Now, that could get interesting late in the year if losses are piling up. He ultimately wants to win and it will bear watching how he shows his frustration if the team isn't playing up to his standards.