Well Wizards fans, the time has finally come. We are just a few short days away from 2023 training camp. Training camp comes hand in hand with a new NBA season, and with a new season comes new questions. For our Washington Wizards, the biggest immediate question mark surrounds former 1st round pick, Deni Avdija.
October 23rd is Avdija’s extension deadline and if he is not extended, he will play out the 2023-’24 season before entering restricted free agency next summer. So as the organization decides what to do with the former lottery pick, their best bet may be to hold off.
With his extension date looming, the Wizards should avoid extending Deni Avdija
Now, the idea of holding off is not to say that Avdija is not a good player. He has a lot of skills that any team could use. However, he is about as polarizing a prospect as we’ve seen in the last few years.
While some fans and pundits may identify Avdija’s defensive skillset as a strength and reason that will get him paid, others will identify his lack of offensive growth as a reason to let him walk.
He has been the team’s best defender since Kentavious Caldwell-Pope left, and the versatility he has on the defensive side is invaluable. He can handle the ball a little bit, and an argument can be made that he is an underrated rebounder.
But the problem is he is not a sure thing. For all the defensive juice he brings to the team, he also cant shoot, is not a good finisher, and has not been the playmaker that he was labeled as coming out of the draft.
The unfortunate part about these types of debates is any player can be picked apart to look not as good as they may be or to look better than they may be. With Avdija though, there are other factors that come into play other than if he is a good player or not.
When the Wizards decided over the summer that they wanted to begin a rebuild, they made it clear that they do not want to rush anything. They want to evaluate what they have, and adjust accordingly. They know that this will be a long process, and their will be plenty of growing pains along the way.
With that being said, when you bring in a brand new Front Office that has no ties to the organization, they need to be allowed to do their job and they need the chance to evaluate. As it stands today, the Wizards only have five players that will be under contract next season, just five.
So, with the Wiz looking to have a relatively clean cap sheet moving forward, there isn’t much need to extend a player like Deni Avdija without getting the chance to fully evaluate him. Based on potential contract projections for Deni, it obviously does not mean that an extension now will mess up their cap sheet all too much. But, putting additional years on your books for a player who, to put things nicely, lacks consistency, would not be in the same line of thinking as the one the front office has used up to this point.
By making the choice not to extend him, his one year prove it deal could prove beneficial for both sides. In a perfect world, with a rebuilding roster that will probably not be very good next year, the chances and minutes will be there for Deni to show that his game is still evolving. He exceed expectations and less than a year from now can get paid more than he may have been on this potential extension, either by the Wizards or someone else. The Wizards in turn can evaluate the long term prospects of having Avdija around and identify if he can be a true cornerstone for this rebuild.
If he does not play well, he can go into free agency next summer and see if he can find a better fit elsewhere, where he may be able to flourish under different circumstances. While the Wizards can keep evaluating and looking for players who can help them in the future.
The choice not to extend Deni Avdija right now, again does not mean that he is not a good player. There is just a time and a place for every NBA decision, and now is not the time.