The Wizards have a Kristaps Porzingis question to answer

Kristaps Porzingis of the Washington Wizards (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)
Kristaps Porzingis of the Washington Wizards (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images) /
1 of 3

Washington Wizards big man Kristaps Porzingis is in line to earn $36 million next year as part of the final year of his contract, but like his front-court mate Kyle Kuzma, Porzingis has a player option. Should he choose to, he could decline that option, and join Kuzma an unrestricted free agent at only 27 years old.

This leaves the Wizards with a lot to think about.

Why would Porzingis turn down $36 million? Could be a matter of security. If you are a star with a history of injuries, wouldn’t you want to secure a new long-term deal rather than taking the risk of lowering your value? Or do you ride out your contract, bet on yourself, and try to secure a new deal one year later?

As the Wizards approach the trade deadline on February 9th, it’s important for them to be on the same page as Porzingis, because all signs point to them throwing the bag at Kyle Kuzma. If they do that, where does the Unicorn fit into their long-term plans, if he does at all? Say he does take the $36 million. How will the Wizards afford to pay for the rest of the roster without going into the tax, a move that doesn’t make any sense for a perennial play-in team?

Let’s assume the Wizards are set on paying Kyle Kuzma something akin, if not more, than the John Collins deal in Atlanta. That would put him somewhere around $28 million a year. This is in addition to the $46 million a year they will be paying Bradley Beal and the $10 million increase to Daniel Gafford’s salary next year.

The league’s cap is projected to be around $134 million for the 2023-24 season.

Bradley Beal: $46.7 million
Kyle Kuzma: $28 million
Daniel Gafford: $12.4 million
Monte Morris: $9.8 million
Delon Wright: $8.2 million
Deni, Kispert, Davis, Gill, Todd, and Carey Jr: $20.7 million

That all adds up to $125.8 million already. There are cap rules that allow the Wizards to go over, but regardless, they are going to have to rethink their investment strategy going into next season.

In a world where the Washington Wizards don’t move anybody else, there are two team-friendly options for the franchise if they wish to keep Porzingis.