Wizards

Quick Links

A franchise-record 25 players for the Wizards has made for an interesting year for Scott Brooks

A franchise-record 25 players for the Wizards has made for an interesting year for Scott Brooks

If it seems like the 2018-19 Washington Wizards have had a lot of different players play for them this season, well, that's because they have. This year they have set a franchise record by suiting up 25 different guys.

For some context, they had only 15 players appear in games all of last season. Eleven years ago, in the 2007-08 season, they had only 13 different guys suit up, or close to half as many as they have had this year.

The Wizards' 25 different players this season are not all that far off from the NBA record. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the 2015-16 Memphis Grizzlies own that distinction with 28. That's a lot of different jerseys.

There are also two teams who have used more players than the Wizards this season alone. The Cavs have had 27 and the Grizzlies have had 26. Apparently this is Memphis' thing.

The reasons why the Wizards have reached this point are numerous. For one, they have made five trades since training camp began. If it weren't for the Feb. 7 trade deadline, they may have made more.

They, of course, have also dealt with major injuries, ones that greatly affected their plans. They lost John Wall for the season due to a torn Achilles and Dwight Howard has only played nine games so far due to a back injury.

Also, the advent and proximity of their new G-League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go, has allowed them to call up players from the minors easier than before. And two-way contracts have added two players to their roster that weren't there in years past.

There were also a few months there when the Wizards did a dance with their final roster spots to save money under the pressure of the luxury tax. They signed a series of 10-day contracts and other players for weeks at a time. That brought some of the more random names to Washington like Ron Baker, Okaro White, Gary Payton II and John Jenkins.

The Wizards' front office has been busy flipping the roster upside down this season and the coaching staff has been left to sort it out. The most players head coach Scott Brooks has had on a team before is 21, back when he was with the Thunder, so this year has been a new challenge for him.

"What? Are you serious? I didn't know that," Brooks told NBC Sports Washington when informed of the franchise record. "No wonder I haven't slept this year."

The Wizards have a protocol for when new players are added. They are each given an iPad that is loaded with the playbook and film breakdowns. Coaches will meet with the players to give them a lay of the land. 

Brooks will introduce himself to all, but usually meets more extensively with those who are going to play major minutes. For those on the fringe of the roster, sometimes that introductory meeting will be handled by Dave Adkins, their director of player development.

When a player is on a 10-day contract, for instance, the transition is relatively easy. Only so much attention will be paid because they in most circumstances will rarely play

For players expected to log heavy minutes, the entire coaching staff will meet to discuss how to incorporate them. After the trades to bring in Bobby Portis, Jabari Parker and Wesley Johnson on Feb. 6, Wizards coaches met the following day for over 30 minutes to brainstorm.

On Feb. 8, as Portis, Parker and Johnson were set to debut against the Cavaliers, the Wizards modified their morning shootaround to add extensive walk-throughs of their playbook. They held seminars on both ends of the court; one for offense and one for defense. One Wizards assistant said it was basically like the first day of training camp, at that point 54 games into their season.

"Going into this year, none of us could prepare for what has happened," Brooks said. "We wouldn't want to be in this position, but we are."

"Losing one of the best players in the league [in Wall], losing one of the key components to shoring up our weaknesses in Dwight. Then, John's second surgery has kind of made this a very unique year in that regard. With all the new players, it has definitely been challenging for me and my coaching staff and the guys that have been here."

Through the ups and the downs of the season, many more of the latter, Brooks has found some joy in the process. The players they have brought in on 10-day contracts and through call-ups from the G-League have taken him back to his own days as a player, when he battled as an undrafted guy to last 10 years in the NBA.

Chasson Randle, in particular, has charted a relatable path. The point guard began the season on a non-guaranteed contract, but in January had his deal guaranteed for the rest of the season.

That was an important step in his NBA career and Brooks remembers what that was like for him.

"That is one of the most enjoyable moments in coaching for me this year, having those guys, because I know that I was in that position, trying to battle and trying to achieve a lofty, lifelong dream," Brooks said. 

"We've had that with Chase. He's made himself into a pretty good player in this league. Hopefully, he's able to stick for a long, long time because he deserves it. He's as professional as anybody I've ever been around with his approach, his enthusiasm with an role that you will give him. To see that is awesome."

So, he knows Randle's name. Could Brooks name all 25 of the Wizards' players this season?

"No. It would take me a while. Sometimes I have trouble naming the 15 we have at the moment," he said. "I didn't realize 25, wow."

Click here for the entire list of players who have suited up for the Wizards this season.

MORE WIZARDS NEWS: 

Quick Links

Dwight Howard opts into second year of contract with Wizards

howard_3_usat.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Dwight Howard opts into second year of contract with Wizards

The Wizards are set to have Dwight Howard back for a second year, as the veteran center informed the team of his plans to exercise the $5.6 million player option in his contract for the 2019-20 season, NBC Sports Washington has confirmed.

Howard, 33, indicated to Wizards brass in his exit meeting last week he was likely to opt in to the second and final year of his deal, but there was some thought he would wait until closer to the June 29 deadline. The reason why is Howard's continued recovery from the back surgery he had in November, a procedure that kept him sidelined for the final five months of the season.

But Howard has now made his intentions known, giving the Wizards a clearer picture of their offseason. With him in the mix, they essentially have five players under contract next season. They technically have six, though Jabari Parker's $20 million team option is essentially a lock to not be picked up.

Howard appeared in only nine games in his first season with the Wizards. He missed all of training camp and their preseason schedule with back issues, played for just over two weeks in November and then went down for the year. He had the surgery, a lumbar microdiscotemy, on Nov. 30. 

Though his time on the floor was brief, he put up solid numbers with averages of 12.8 points and 9.2 rebounds. The Wizards missed his rebounding in particular, as they finished 27th in the league in the category and 28th in rebounds against.

Howard will certainly hope for a better showing in Year 2 with the Wizards, though there may be no guarantee he actually comes back. The Wizards are currently searching for a new general manager, and that person could choose to go in a different direction if ownership permits them to.

Keep in mind last summer Howard was traded soon after Mitch Kupchak took over the Hornets' front office and the Nets bought him out immediately after acquiring him. Howard's $5.6 million salary is relatively inexpensive, as Brooklyn paid $18.9 million to part ways.

Time will tell if Howard's career continues in Washington, but for now he is slated to come back next season for a second year with the Wizards.

ESPN's Zach Lowe first reported the news of Howard opting in.

MORE WIZARDS NEWS:

Quick Links

How John Wall's injury affects the Wizards' many decisions this summer

How John Wall's injury affects the Wizards' many decisions this summer

With the 2018-19 season in the rearview for the Washington Wizards, we at NBC Sports Washington are analyzing the five biggest questions of what should be the most consequential offseason they have had in years...

NO. 4: HOW WILL JOHN WALL'S CONTRACT AFFECT ROSTER CONSTRUCTION?

Though there are several events this summer that could ultimately define the Wizards' offseason, one storyline will hang over everything and factor into just about every decision made by the front office and whomever ends up leading it as the team's new general manager. That is the future of John Wall, who is set to miss at least most of next season due to a ruptured left Achilles, in what will be the first year of his supermax contract.

Wall had surgery on Feb. 12. Even if he returns one year after going under the knife, he will still miss roughly 50 games next season. When he does come back, there are no guarantees he will be the same player. He turns 29 in September and a ruptured Achilles is a very serious injury, especially for a guy whose game has traditionally been reliant on speed.

The Wizards, of course, hope Wall will regain his peak form, but even if that happens it is unlikely to be the case right away. It may not be until the 2020-21 season until the Wizards get a true read on Wall post-surgery and how much value he can provide while making the money he is due. 

Speaking of the money, Wall will still take up a considerable chunk of the salary cap despite not playing. He is set to earn 35 percent of the cap next season, which right now is projected at about $37.8 million. Though that could technically fluctuate based on the final cap number, the percentage is what matters. The Wizards will basically have to build a roster with only 65 percent of the cap at their disposal.

There is an argument that Wall's injury is one of the biggest roster-building obstacles in NBA history. Supermax contracts, ones that allow players to make a contract that begins at 35 percent of the salary cap, are a new concept. And no one else has suffered such a serious injury while getting paid that type of money. 

It may not be quite what the Brooklyn Nets overcame in the fallout of their infamous trade with the Boston Celtics, the one that resulted in a net loss of three first round picks. But it's a bad situation, one that will require some creativity from whomever is tasked with pulling the Wizards out of it.

The long-term ramifications will depend on how Wall plays when he returns, but the short-term effect will clearly be felt. First, the Wizards have to have an insurance policy at point guard and a good one if they hope to compete for the playoffs. Maybe that is as simple as re-signing Tomas Satoransky, but regardless they have to shore up that position, knowing Wall's status.

Second, the Wizards need to find bargains to fill out the rest of their roster. They will have to find some cheap players simply to reach the 13-player minimum with Bradley Beal's max deal also on the books. Beal will earn roughly $27.1 million next season.

The biggest question as it pertains to Wall may deal with the NBA Draft on June 20. What if the Wizards get some luck in the May 14 draft lottery, but not enough to get the No. 1 pick (i.e. Zion Williamson), and Ja Morant is the best player on the board? Morant, of course, is the Murray State superstar who lit up the NCAA Tournament in March.

Morant is dynamic and has serious star potential, and he plays point guard. Wall was already asked about the potential of the Wizards drafting a point guard with a high pick. He said he would be fine with it, but that when he returns that draft pick can "be a great back-up" to him.

If the Wizards picked Morant, or even Coby White of North Carolina, it would arguably be the smart move to make. They need to select the best player available, no matter the position. 

But if they do take a point guard, that will present a unique dynamic to their locker room, especially if that player turns into a star. What if Morant comes in and lights it up as a rookie? How will Wall deal with that? And could you then put Morant on the bench when Wall returns, as Wall suggests they would?

Those are hypothetical scenarios that can be addressed if they actually enter the equation this summer and beyond. But there is no question that, even as Wall is sidelined with an injury, his presence will loom over the Wizards in many ways.

MORE WIZARDS OFFSEASON NEWS: