Predicting an unfortunate free agency for the Washington Wizards

Kyle Kuzma of the Washington Wizards runs the offense during game against the Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
Kyle Kuzma of the Washington Wizards runs the offense during game against the Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images) /

After an incredibly underwhelming season for the Washington Wizards, they are set up to have an eventful offseason. Something that seemed inevitable since they declined to move any of their stars at the trade deadline. The instead decided to only move Rui Hachimura and are now left with a mess of a roster with very little leverage.

Ahead of the offseason, the Wizards have two players with player options, Kyle Kuzma and Kristaps Porzingis. They also have two players who are hitting unrestricted free agency, Kendrick Nunn and Taj Gibson.

Right now, it seems like both stars will decline their player options as Kyle Kuzma is looking for a pay upgrade and Kristaps Porzingis is likely looking to capitalize on one of his few healthy seasons and secure long-term financial security, even if for a discounted rate. This has been the trend in recent years by players like Gordon Hayward and Michael Conley.

Where does that put the Washington Wizards in free agency?

The Wizards are in a horrible position right now based on their free agents. They have multiple stars looking for big deals and one already on one of the biggest contracts in the league. This makes their ability to pick up role players and improve the bench incredibly limited outside of trades.

Kristaps Porzingis is most likely going to return to play for the Wizards next season. He seems comfortable and happy. Not only that, but he has also found success in the District as a combo big man who can do a little bit of everything.

While he may be signed to a long-term deal, it will likely be at a slightly discounted rate due to his extensive injury history. It’s entirely possible that his upcoming contract will be slightly smaller than the one he is currently playing on, if only by a few million per year.

Kyle Kuzma on the other hand, is far less predictable. He has weeks where he seems extremely happy in DC and has nothing but praise for the city and for the team. Then he has weeks where he makes statements to the media saying he wants to win or has conflicting statements with Wes Unseld Jr on the state of the offense.

Kyle Kuzma has always had a big market personality. From his pregame outfits to the way he carries himself on the floor, even his social media presence. It’s all built for a large fanbase. He has even said that he wants to play for a big market franchise in the last few months.

Unfortunately for the Wizards, all of these things combined makes it seem like their star forward is likely to leave in the offseason. He wants to win for a big market franchise, he wants the spotlight, he wants to have a huge fanbase. Honestly, who can blame him. He is averaging All-Star numbers and failed to make the All-Star game. The same thing that caused Anthony Davis to force a trade in 2019.

light. Related Story. 10 worst free agents in Wizards history

The most likely destinations are the Los Angeles Lakers (if they can make space for him in their contract situation), and the New York Knicks. Both are teams that have massive fanbases and are looking to win a championship.

The Knicks seem the most likely as they are far younger and have the ability to move assets that the Wizards may be interested in a potential sign and trade. They also have the best fit in terms of play style for Kuzma as well.

In terms of adding players in the free agency period, the Wizards will need a backup center and would likely be forced to find a replacement small forward depending on who they select in the draft. Naz Reid and Cameron Johnson seem very possible given the cap situation that the team would have in this situation.

To recap, the Washington Wizards seem likely to retain Kristaps Porzingis but lose Kyle Kuzma in the process. They will probably not bring back Kendrick Nunn or Taj Gibson, and they seem to be in good standing to possibly sign Naz Reid and Cameron Johnson. Not the greatest free agency period but could work out depending on how the draft goes and any potential trade the team makes.

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