How the Washington Wizards Have Spent Their Summer Vacation

WASHINGTON, DC -  MAY 12: John Wall #2 of the Washington Wizards looks on during the game against the Boston Celtics during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2017 NBA Playoffs on May 12, 2017 at Verizon Center in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC -  MAY 12: John Wall #2 of the Washington Wizards looks on during the game against the Boston Celtics during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2017 NBA Playoffs on May 12, 2017 at Verizon Center in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Washington Wizards management did a great job of retaining the core, that was one game away from the Eastern Conference Finals last season. Building upon last year’s success, the Wizards are steadily making preparations to take over the East. 

This offseason was very busy for the Washington Wizards. Some say that the Wizards stayed pat during free agency, but in this instance it was actually a good thing.

And before the offseason even started, the Wizards made a move prior to the draft. They parlayed their 52nd draft pick, and traded it for veteran backup point guard Tim Frazier. Washington did a very good job with the pick, because the most glaring hole in the Wizards offense was a solid backup for John Wall.

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Hopefully, Frazier is ready to lead the second unit’s offense next season, such that the bench doesn’t drain away any leads that their starters had built up, as was the routine last season. And most importantly provide Wall with much needed minutes of rest.

David Aldridge’s Offseason Rankings has the Wizards in the Middle 10, which is pretty good. It’s not a barometer where a team will finish, but rather rankings compare whether a team got better during the offseason, compared to last season.

According to Aldridge, the key to the Wizards is of course Wall. However, the “skinny” on what the Wizards need to improve upon is their second unit.  All in all, Aldridge believes, that “the starting five is as good as anyone’s outside of the Bay.”

Wall’s Summer Vacation

Recently, the Wizards held a press conference to announce that Wall had signed his supermax extension, worth $170 million over four years. The extension, combined with the remaining two years on his contract, makes Wall’s contract total a whopping $205 million over six years.

During the presser Wall said, he’s working on his floater, three-point shot, and conditioning.

Wall has indeed been very busy this offseason, trying to get down to fighting weight, and even added boxing to his repertoire. I believe I just heard Jae Crowder say, “really, he was pretty quick with his hands last season, and we’re not even in the same weight class.”

Wall remarked that he didn’t want a repeat of Game 7 against Boston, when he ran out of gas. Thus, he’s trying to get in better condition to ensure that doesn’t happen again.

I know that he has constantly said, he doesn’t believe in resting games, because it might be the only chance a child gets to see him play. Everyone knows Wall’s a soldier, who plays through injury, but until the bench can be counted upon, he best start believing.

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Wall was asked, why choose Washington and not another city? He answered, that whenever he walks around D.C. everyone shows him love. In fact, Wizards’ owner Ted Leonsis, said that he loves when Wall stands up during games, and yells, “This is my city!”

Wall has some unfinished business. He plans on bringing a championship to the city, spending his whole career with the Wizards, and one day looking up to see his jersey held high in the rafters.

I do believe that Wall will accomplish two out of three his goals – championship and jersey retirement. And possibly he’ll even remain with the Wizards his entire career, considering he’s the only member from the 2010 draft class, still with the same team that drafted him.

Loyalty inside the NBA and Wizard’s Front Office

The goal of the Wizards front office was to keep the core intact. They did that by signing Otto Porter to a max contract, worth $106.5 million over four years. That marked the first time the Washington franchise has ever paid into the luxury tax.

Porter during his press conference, said that he’s working on improving his game. That was very admirable on Porter’s part, because he was shooting lights out for the most part of last season, and even led the league in 3-point shooting at one time. However, towards the end those lights started to dim – specifically in the playoffs. I believe if he puts in the work he can transform into that third superstar that Washington needs.

I recently wrote about Kyrie Irving and “Loyalty inside the NBA”, and discussed how loyalty is a two-way street. I also noted that Wall wanted to stay in Washington, because both Ted Leonsis and Wizards’ President Ernie Grunfeld created an atmosphere, that is conducive to a player’s growth.

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With Wall signing his supermax extention, Porter his max, and Bradley Beal signing his max last summer, the Wizards now have three players under max contracts. In addition, all three of these max players are players the Wizards drafted. Homegrown superstars, if you will.

No Rest for the Weary

There has been a lot of argument that although the Wizards kept their core, that’s not where their problems lie. But rather it’s the bench. I don’t disagree. I get asked that question a lot – how far do you think Wall can take this team? My answer is always, “to the Eastern Conference Finals”.

Although, I did a write up of every game in the playoffs last season, and travelled home to Boston for Game 5, I didn’t do a write up of Game 7. Everyone wants to say Wall went scoreless in the fourth quarter. That’s not what lost that game. Rotation lost that game.

If Wall had fresh legs, and Coach Scott Brooks trusted his bench, as Boston did theirs, then Wall would have been able to go into his turbo mode and close out game 7. I still don’t know why Jason Smith and Kelly Oubre weren’t put in during the third quarter, when it was clear that Wall was falling apart. I know I’ve written about this countless time in other articles, but it still remains a mystery.

Tomas Satoransky

So I’m going to give this bench the benefit of the doubt, with Tim Frazier leading the offense. Some places still have Tomas Satoransky listed as a backup point guard, and I’m just going to believe that’s an oversight. Because the Wizards have not announced what position Satoransky is going to play.

I didn’t see it last season, and I still don’t see Satoransky at the one. He’s too slow pushing the ball up the court. Satoransky is scrappy, pretty good on the boards, and has a lot of energy.

Satoransky should be in the frontcourt, and he should embrace his new position. especially when some of the best teams, unfortunately Boston included, have moved away to positionless basketball. Recall that Al Horford was playing almost all the positions against Washington. I believe I just heard Markieff Morris say, even the cradle position.

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Missed Opportunities in Free Agency

Alas, I had written at the beginning of the offseason that the Wizards should pick up Michael Beasley. On Tuesday, it was reported that he has signed with the New York Knicks. And before the trade deadline, I advocated very strongly for Rajon Rondo. Well, DeMarcus Cousins wanted him, and the Pelicans recently picked him up to run point, seemingly with Jrue Holiday at the two. Let’s hope I don’t run into Mr. Cousins.

Ian Mahinmi

But I still have hope for Washington’s “new” bench. Although, Coach Brooks said after Wall’s presser that Ian Mahinmi had minor knee surgery over the summer. It’s very unfortunate that Mahinmi has been plagued with these knee problems. The little time he did see the floor, he played quality minutes, was very productive and is a great rim protector. I believe if Mahinmi were healthy, that he could be one of the best bigs in the league.

I wonder, and I don’t believe there’s anything nefarious on either side, what type of medical exam Mahinmi went through before signing on to the Wizards. Was it old school, where they only did the patellar test and knocked his knee? Whatever exam it was, please upgrade, because it’s inconceivable that his problems weren’t known beforehand.

The Summer before Storming into the ECF

And speaking of hammers, Marcin Gortat, for the love of basketball, please learn to stay in front of your man, instead of chasing behind them. A lot of centers have added the three-ball to their repertoire, so you now have to defend outside the paint, and at a much faster rate. Hopefully, you’re not working on your 3-point shot, as I wrote about your counterpart, Dwight Howard. But, rather you’re adding a nice jumper.

And Bradley Beal, who hides behind his baby face when he does the Bradley Flop, please work on your defense. I know you recently tweeted, ‘how could someone talk about basketball when they never played?’ Really, do you know how many Avery Bradley posters, with you behind him are up on my wall? None, but they’re in my mental Rolodex. When your outside shot isn’t falling, please be more aggressive inside the paint.

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The Washington Wizards had a very busy offseason, contrary to popular beliefs. They accomplished their goal of retaining their core. They found a primary backup for Wall. Everyone knows what they need to work on this offseason. Brooks had a full season to get to know his team. And basketball heads can go to sleep easier, now that Wall has committed to six more years to run the City of Washington. (I should write it’s technically five, but I don’t want people to go into panic mode again).

I wrote all of that to say this – if the Wizards bench can be productive, and not squander any lead, Wall gets meaningful rest, Porter improves his three-ball, Gortat develops perimeter defense, Keef stays out of foul trouble, and Beal improves his defense, there’s nothing stopping Washington from reaching the Eastern Conference Finals.

Next: John Wall No Offseason Episode 3 Recap

And if you don’t, in the words of Keef, you all will be a bunch of crybabies next summer.