The Wizards' offseason arrived abruptly on Friday night, as it always seems to do. They had high hopes for the 2017-18 season, but due to problems both in their control and out of their hands, their summer came early.
There are nearly five months until training camp begins in Richmond, Va. and a lot that will happen during that time. Here are five questions for the Wizards they look ahead to another offseason of change...
Will they make any organizational changes?
Any time a team falls short of expectations in professional sports it is fair to question whether front office changes will be made, either major or minor. The Wizards have kept their staff relatively intact since team president Ernie Grunfeld took over in June of 2003. They stuck with him during two rebuilds, first when he took over and second when they drafted John Wall in 2010. They also kept him and his staff around after the 2015-16 season when they missed the playoffs and fired head coach Randy Wittman.
Given they didn't overhaul their front office then, it's easy to see why they wouldn't do so now. Head coach Scott Brooks is only two years into a five-year contract worth $35 million. He's not going anywhere and the relationship between a coach and front office is always important. It's not often a front office is transformed when everyone knows the coach is here for the foreseeable future.
The Wizards also have the built-in excuse of how injuries affected this season. Wall missed 41 games, Markieff Morris began the year on the mend and Otto Porter was clearly affected by leg injuries throughout their playoff series. He wasn't able to play at all in Game 6.
Also, the Wizards have a unique offseason up ahead with the addition of their G-League team. There is a lot that goes into creating a new franchise, including a wider scouting operation. They are building this from the ground up and that has to be considered in any front office decisions.
Will they make a big trade?
The Wizards have valued continuity as much as any team in the NBA over the past three seasons. They have drafted, developed and retained their players, most notably Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter. Those three are on major contracts and the Wizards' future is currently tied to them, to the point that they are set to pay the luxury tax.
The Wizards will have to decide this offseason if they want to keep rolling with those guys or do something drastic; i.e. take a big swing at an All-Star. This past summer they flirted with the idea of a Paul George trade, but nothing came of it. Is now the time to go all-in?
In order to make a significant addition to their roster, it would have to be via trade. They are in the luxury tax and won't have big money to spend. But, as recent years have shown, almost every summer there are stars attainable. The speculation has already begun for Kawhi Leonard. Andre Drummond could conceivably be on the market. There is also the chance for a sign-and-trade and free agency will be flooded with big names, LeBron James among them.
Trades of that magnitude have not necessarily been Grunfeld's style in Washington, though he has acquired All-Stars via trade before like Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler. But there's a logical argument for why this should be the year to think big and it involves Wall's contract.
Wall is set to make $19.1 million in 2018-19. The next year his extension kicks in and he is due to make $37.8 million in 2019-20. The salary cap will go up, but not enough to offset that raise entirely. Wall will also be 29 years old that season.
If the Wizards want to make a significant trade at some point to give themselves a championship window during Wall's prime, this summer may be the time to do so.
Will Morris, Oubre and Gortat stick around?
The Wizards have a host of players entering contract years. In the NBA, a contract year means several things in terms of trades. It can be either decision-time for a young player who could be sold high for a nice return or it can mean a veteran is all of a sudden more attractive for a team in search of an expiring deal.
With Oubre and Morris, the Wizards will need to make a call on what their futures are in Washington. Though Oubre's numbers dipped this season, he's only 22 years old and has loads of potential. They have to project whether he will be a guy who will not only reach that ceiling but be worth keeping around eventually for a lot more money. They know what Morris is, but his production and contract, in theory, make him an asset that could be dealt.
Gortat is the most interesting case because of several reasons. For one, they have shopped him in the past and including this season. Secondly, he is admittedly a questionable fit on the roster with Ian Mahinmi in the picture. Gortat has long wondered when his time in D.C. will be over. It could happen this summer, though the Wizards would have to find a suitor and that's easier said than done given his age and playing style.
How will the G-League franchise come together?
The Wizards will have a much different offseason than they did in years past because of the Capital City Go-Go are about to enter the equation. They have to choose someone to oversee the front office, hire a coach and sign a whole new roster of players. It has dramatically affected their scouting process throughout this season. They cast a much wider net and scouted a lot more guys than they usually do.
Wizards' vice president of basketball operations Tommy Sheppard is overseeing much of the team's construction. They are deliberating over candidates for the team's general manager position and it could come from in-house. They have a host of young guys in their front office in basketball operations positions that could fit the bill.
Can they keep Scott?
The Wizards' roster will likely look very different next year, as it always does. Tomas Satoransky is set to be back along with Oubre and Mahinmi on their bench. But Jason Smith and Jodie Meeks have player options and Chris McCullough is set to hit free agency.
Also entering free agency are Mike Scott, Ty Lawson, Ramon Sessions and Tim Frazier. It would seem unlikely that Sessions or Frazier come back given the roles they played. Lawson is an interesting case because he proved worthy of an NBA roster spot after spending most of the year in China. The Wizards could see him as the solution at backup point guard and he would likely come very cheap.
Scott is the biggest priority and the Wizards may not have the resource to keep him. Scott was one of the NBA's best comeback stories and may have earned himself a multi-year deal. It wouldn't be surprising if Scott took the success he had and ran with it into free agency to cash in. Working in the Wizards' favor is that he feels comfortable in Washington, just a few hours from where he grew up. After all he went through to get back to this point, sticking with the good thing he has going might be appealing.
As you can see, it's going to be another eventful offseason for the Washington Wizards.
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