Ranking the 5 Biggest Offseason Needs for the Washington Wizards
If the Washington Wizards really want to be the talk of the nation's capital, there are five main things the front office must address this offseason.
The more important the need, the more likely addressing that concern will make the Wizards a better team during the 2013-14 season.
General manager Ernie Grunfeld—as well as the rest of the Wizards' front office—is hampered by the fact that they have some cap space problems that will hold them back from making any major moves in free agency.
While most people just assume the Wizards are a young team with a bright future, they are currently in the middle of the pack in that category with an average age of 26.1. Therefore, it's important for the Wizards to bring in some younger talent—while using their older players to mentor the new players.
Most of these needs could change depending where the Wizards fall in the draft. They are most likely to fall to the ninth pick, with just under a three percent chance to get the No. 1 overall pick. But that doesn't mean they can't move further up or fall back.
No matter their draft position, the majority of these five needs should be addressed if Grunfeld wants to keep his job through next year and if the Wizards plan on being a contender in the near future.
No. 5: Backup Point Guard
Coming into the 2012-13 season, no one expected A.J. Price to be outstanding and to fill in for John Wall without any problems.
However, after seeing Price's struggles when Wall missed the first part of the season with an injury, the Wizards may want to look at picking up a backup point guard.
Price only averaged seven points per game this season, and never scored more than 15 points in a game during the first month of the season—when Washington struggled the most.
During the Wizards' game against the Indiana Pacers back on Nov. 10—the game that Price played the most minutes this year—he shot 5-of-12 from the floor, but did have 14 assists. However, his point production wasn't enough to get Washington a win in its first 12 games of the season.
Given Wall's past injury history, it would be much safer for Washington to pick up a more reliable backup. Wall missed 33 games this season, and missed 13 games during his rookie year. Given that Wall plays such a major role on the team, if he goes down, the Wizards need someone who could step up and at least do a better job than Price did of filling in.
No. 4: Backup Shooting Guard
Like Price, not much was expected of Garrett Temple this season.
That changed when Bradley Beal missed several games this year with various injuries and Temple was expected to back up the rookie at the shooting guard spot.
That didn't turn out very well for Washington, as Temple only averaged five points per game this season and shot 40 percent from the floor.
Beal has even less of an injury record than Wall, but going off of what fans saw this year, it's not good. The 19-year-old out of Florida missed 26 games this season and sustained various injuries—including a stress injury in his right fibula and a high right ankle sprain.
Considering Beal was the second-best player for Washington this year—averaging 14 points per game—a huge hole is left in the lineup when he's on the bench.
Therefore, with Beal's short but scary injury history, the Wizards need to look into bringing in another shooting guard to fill in when Beal can't go.
No. 3: Small Forward
The tricky part about the small forward position for the Wizards is that it could quickly disappear as a need if they brought back Martell Webster.
However, Webster is a free agent, and there hasn't been any recent news about talks between Washington and Webster.
Webster had career-highs in points, rebounds, free-throw percentage and field-goal percentage this season—making him a top candidate for the small forward spot next season.
But with no guarantee that he'll be returning, the Wizards need to look elsewhere for that position, given the only other candidate is the aging Trevor Ariza.
Chandler Parsons could be available, considering he has a no-guarantee contract with the Houston Rockets currently, and Corey Brewer is going to be an unrestricted free agent.
Either of those players could be a solid small forward for the Wizards. Neither of them cost all that much, with Brewer making $3.2 million this year and Parsons under $1 million.
Webster may be the best option here though, as he showed great chemistry with Wall when he returned to the lineup, but the Wizards may end up having to bring someone new in.
No. 2: Sorting out Cap Problems
The number of moves that the Wizards can and can't make depends pretty heavily on how much cap space they can free up this offseason.
Nenê, Emeka Okafor and Ariza are the three biggest earners on payroll for Washington—and Ariza isn't even a starter.
Nenê is aging and at one point considered retiring this season, but is under contract for $13 million each of the next three seasons. Both Ariza and Okafor have early termination offers for the 2013-14 season, which they are not likely to accept.
John Wall could receive a max contract extension this offseason, which would be another chunk of change the Wizards have to hand out.
Meanwhile, Jan Vesely is making $4.2 million next season under his rookie contract—after the Czech center only played in 11 minutes per game and averaged two points per game this season.
None of these players are likely hot trade bait, but Grunfeld needs to start looking into different options to clear this space. He could always wait until Ariza and Okafor are gone next offseason, but he needs to explore his options with getting rid of Vesely and maybe even Nenê if his health doesn't improve.
No. 1: Power Forward
Without a doubt, the biggest weakness for the Wizards this season was their big men. Okafor had a strong defensive year, but his offensive production declined, and the power forward position was in question almost all year.
The current starter, Nenê, will be 31 by the time next season starts. His age already started to show this season—when he missed 21 games because of injuries.
Nenê's numbers in points per game, rebounds and field-goal percentage were all down from last year—showing that age is really slowing him down.
Behind Nenê is Trevor Booker, who is serviceable on defense—pulling down three defensive rebounds per game—but he only averages six points per game for his career.
And there's always Vesely, who continued to be the punch line to Wizards fans' jokes all season.
Booker is younger, but Washington really needs to consider drafting a young power forward.
Although Okafor was the best defensive player for the Wizards this season, at 30 years old, he's not going to be around forever. It's unlikely the Wizards will bring him back after next season—especially if his offensive numbers continue to decline.
Center isn't too much of a problem for Washington, however, as Kevin Seraphin turned out to be a nice surprise this season—averaging nine points and four rebounds per game.
Grunfeld will be making the majority of the calls this offseason, but someone else may be pulling the trigger come next. Grunfeld is constantly being grilled in Washington, and rightfully so.
This is the last season he is under contract for. Grunfeld's not going to be fired in the next few months—making it a less urgent need—but team owner Ted Leonsis should either start looking at other candidates or decide if he wants to bring Grunfeld back.