The Washington Wizards Summer League run came to an end with a loss to eventual champion Sacramento Kings in the semi-finals of the Samsung Las Vegas Summer League Tournament. With the draft (or lack thereof), primary free agency period, and Summer League all wrapped up, we’ve hit the unofficial end of the summer for the Washington Wizards. It’s time for the front office to hand in their blue book (it’s been a while, are exams still done in blue books?), and see how they did.
1. Re-signing Randy Wittman to a reported 3-year deal worth $9 million (Team option in Year 3).
Professor’s (Not Andre Miller’s) notes: Wittman has gotten a lot of criticism for his substitution patterns, reluctance to play rookies, and offensive sets but you can’t deny that fact that he gets the team to respond to adversity. Every time it seemed that the Wizards were about to go on a slide, they’d respond with a big road win against a team most people thought they had no business competing against. Add in the fact that Wittman thoroughly outcoached Tom Thibodeau in the Round 1 five game series victory over Chicago, and he absolutely deserved to be back. The front office did well on the terms here, especially when you factor in what first time head coaches Steve Kerr and Derek Fisher were able to demand.
Grade: B+ (3 credits)
2. Trading the 46th pick in the draft for cash.
Professor’s notes: My initial inclination was to grade this as an F. However since there’s always a chance that the cash acquired in this acquisition was used in one of their moves this off-season, I will begrudgingly hand out a D. That being said, selling picks to me is the worst and shouldn’t be allowed. How does the fan or the team benefit from selling a pick? That money does not go towards a cap increase or a reduction in ticket prices. Does any other league allow this? Did I forget to mention that Jordan McRae and Russ Smith, two players selected after the 46th pick, made the Samsung All-NBA Summer League Second Team? Did I also forget to mention that Jordan Clarkson, the player selected with our draft pick on behalf of the Lakers had a strong summer league as well averaging 15.8 ppg and is a combo guard? (hmmm, we’ve been looking for one of those for a while)
Grade: D (1.5 credit hours)
3. Re-signing Marcin Gortat to a 5-year deal worth $60 million.
Professor’s notes: This was a deal that had to be done, Period. Marcin Gortat came in last year right before the season started and solidified the Washington Wizards at the center position averaging 13.2 PPG & 9.5 RPG, on 54.2% shooting. Considering the Washington Wizards gave up a 1st round pick to acquire him, the lack of progress by their recent draft selections at the 4 and 5 spot (I’m looking at you Jan Vesely and Kevin Seraphin), Nene’s inconsistent availability, and the lack of quality centers available on the market, it was a move that had to be made. Was the 5th year ideal? No, but if that’s what it took to get it done and keep him from talking to Miami or Cleveland then so be it. Let’s not also forget that with the new TV deal and a potential lockout looking, we have no idea how that 5th year will look when we get there. I also don’t think we’ve seen the best that Gortat has to offer. When Nene went down for a 21-game stretch in the second half of the season, Gortat responded by averaging 15.5 PPG and 10.6 RPG on 56% shooting. He did this on only 11.8 FGAs per game! As Nene’s minutes potentially get managed going forward and the chemistry between Wall and Gortat grows, let’s get him the ball more!
Grade: A- (4.5 credit hours – got to hand out some extra hours for going to Poland to recruit the Polish Hammer)
Professor’s notes: Trevor Ariza was great for the Washington Wizards last year in his role. He also signed what seemed to be a very reasonable deal with the Rockets this off-season. That being said, the Washington Wizards were in a difficult spot in terms of not wanting to allow a productive player to leave, while also keeping open financial flexibility going forward.
In the end, the Wizards seemed interested in retaining Ariza at terms they were comfortable with but he chose to go elsewhere. Long-term this was the right move for the team. A starting 5 of John Wall, Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza, Nene, and Marcin Gortat could have been a consistent playoff team in the Eastern Conference, but would not been a championship caliber roster. Maintaining financial flexibility to add that one last major player (#KD2DC) was imperative if the Washington Wizards truly wanted to elevate themselves to legit championship contender status. In the interim it was also important not to block Otto Porter’s chance to develop and with Martell Webster’s contract last year, the Washington Wizards would have had a large amount invested in one position.
The Washington Wizards quickly reacted to Ariza’s departure by agreeing to terms with Paul Pierce. WOW! (Every once in a while it must be nice for a teacher to be completely surprised by a result).
Paul Pierce is a perfect replacement for Trevor Ariza. He’ll provide championship level experience, a player who can create his own offense for a team that struggled in that regard, an ideal bridge for Otto Porter considering he would not block his opportunity for sizeable minutes and can help him develop, and comes with a contract that does not hinder the franchise going forward. Paul Pierce’s play took a step back last year but I am a believer in the John Wall affect and a slight statistical rebound by Paul Pierce, especially when you take into account his corner 3-point shooting percentage (54.5%) would not surprise me in the least. I also can’t wait to see what players like John, Brad, and Otto can learn from a player who recently said this about his clutch play, “I think it’s in the DNA. Everybody doesn’t have it. Everybody’s not born with it. Can’t buy it at Costco or Walgreen’s. It’s in the DNA.” Pierce’s clutch stats and resume will be a sight for sore eyes as the Wizards had their issues in generating late game offense. Do we take a bit of a step back defensively? Sure, but the pros here significantly outweigh the cons.
Wait, before I forget to mention it, without any leverage the Wizards were able to obtain an $8.5 million Trade Exemption from the Rockets in an eventual sign and trade for Ariza. And this leads us too…..
Grade: A+ (6 credit hours – extra credit hours for two moves plus ’16 implications)
5. The Washington Wizards acquired Kris Humphries via sign and trade with the Boston Celtics for a protected 2015 second round pick and a trade exemption worth approximately $4.3 million. Kris Humphries new contract is for a reported 3-years and approximately $13 million (Team option in Year 3).
Professor’s notes: As we previously discussed, front court depth was a clear need heading into the summer. Even after re-signing Marcin Gortat the frontcourt consisted of two players on the wrong side of 30, one of which was (Nene) who hasn’t played more than 61 games in the past three seasons. Kris Humphries had a solid season in a reserve role with the Celtics last year averaging 8.4 PPG and 5.9 RPG on 50.1% shooting. In his last season as a starter with the New Jersey Nets in 2011-2012 he averaged 13.8 PPG and 11 RPG on 48%. He’s an ideal fit as a reserve/fill-in starter for when Nene inevitably misses time due to injury. The Wizards get an ‘A-’ here for being able to acquire him using a trade exemption that was acquired at a time when they had limited remaining resources to improve. Additional the contract numbers fit in with the long-term plan and is less than what Trevor Booker received from the Utah Jazz on an annual basis.
Grade: A- (3 credit hours)
6. The Wizards re-sign Drew Gooden to a 1-year contract at the veteran’s minimum.
Professor’s notes: This was an easy move so I couldn’t hand out an ‘A’ (sometimes the Curve goes in the opposite direction!) Drew Gooden signed on late last season with the Wizards and instantly became a contributor down the stretch and into the playoffs. Considering he was amnestied by the Milwaukee Bucks and lives in the area, this re-signing seemed inevitable and made sense for both sides. Gooden is the closest thing to a stretch four the team has and without him where would be get episodes like this from?
Grade: B (3 credit hours)
Note- Ernie is officially in the zone
7. The Washington Wizards acquired DeJuan Blair via sign and trade with the Dallas Mavericks for Emir Preldzic (WHO?) and a trade exemption worth approximately $2.1 million. DeJuan Blair’s new contract with the Wizards is for a reported 3-years and $6 million (Team option in Year 3).
Professor’s notes: The Washington Wizards continued to fortify their frontcourt with the acquisition of DeJuan Blair. Blair had a solid season in a reserve role with Dallas last year. He’s posted a Per of 17.1 in four of his five seasons in the NBA, has been durable, and posted a Per 36 of 14.7 PPG and 10.9 RPG last year. Again, the Washington Wizards were able to acquire an ideal reserve with the potential to be a fill-in starter, this time using a smaller trade exemption they had acquired for Eric Maynor last season. This move does get a ‘B+’ instead of an ‘A’ because while depth is great and the team should be much improved on the boards, Blair and Humphries are somewhat redundant. (But I’d live with a report card for of B+’s all day! – not saying my parents agreed with that point of view)
8. Kevin Seraphin signed his 1-year $3.89 million qualifying offer with the Washington Wizards.
Note- And there’s the heat check airball that got Ernie out of the zone….
Professor’s notes: I can’t make any sense out of this. Did they even read the syllabus? I’m going to require a written explanation with a parent’s signature. You also have to repeat this class next semester. And that ‘D’ I gave you for trading the 46th picks and potentially using that cash elsewhere; it’s now an ‘F’.
Grade: F (3 credit hours)
9. Summer League.
Professor’s notes: After a disastrous showing (in only 2 games last summer) you could argue that no player was under more pressure to play well in Las Vegas than Otto Porter and he delivered. Porter averaged 19 PPG and 5.8 RPG on 48.4% shooting from the field. More importantly he looked poised, displayed a smooth mid-range game, shot the 3-point shot with reasonable efficiency, ran the floor, and found different ways to score without dominating the basketball. It was a complete 180 from hat we saw last year. The way he approached the game looks like it can easily translate to the varsity squad as Ben Golliver with CNNSI points out, “The No. 3 pick in 2013 was back with a vengeance this year, finishing eighth in scoring even though he stuck to his script as a complementary offensive option.” His play didn’t go unnoticed as he was voted to the Samsung All-NBA Summer League First Team. With Trevor Ariza now gone and Paul Pierce going on 37 and coming off a season in which he averaged 28 minutes per game, the team couldn’t have hoped for more out of Otto.
Glen Rice Jr – MVP. Is there anything else I need to add? Fine, I will then. Glen averaged 25 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 2.5 steals on 46.9% shooting. He was a force in Las Vegas who was able to score from outside, inside, mid-range, and showed an innate ability to get to the free throw line. Sure he seemed to have some bouts of immaturity, but for a team that needed a scoring threat who can create offense on the second unit; his performance was exactly what the doctor ordered.
Grade: A+ (3 credit hours)
Final GPA: 3.18 (Please don’t check my math)
Dean’s Comments- Good Job! A defensive minded reserve wing would have been nice but overall there’s a lot to be pleased with. Enjoy the rest of your summer but please don’t forget to come back with the written explanation about Kevin Seraphin in the fall.