How to Quickly Rebuild the Washington Wizards, Pt.2- Free Agency

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How to Quickly Rebuild the Washington Wizards, Pt.2- Free Agency

While I have every intention of discussing the upcoming free agency period as promised, allow me to have a brief therapy session first.

I’m devastated that we got the #1 pick. Really.

At #2, there would be no choice but to take Evan Turner. Now, it seems there’s almost no choice but John Wall. If you read my last article, then you know I’m much higher on Turner for this team.

However, the more I look at Wall, the more I think I have underestimated his passing ability. He can probably compliment Arenas much better than I initially thought.

Also, the once-moribund trade market for Arenas has recently shown signs of life. There’s talk of an Arenas for Eddy Curry swap and I’ve always thought Wall would be a great fit for the Wizards and Gilbert.

Yet as much as I try to talk myself into it, I just can’t get excited about the prospect of drafting Wall. He’ll probably be fantastic, but I’ve just had my heart set on Turner. Is something wrong with me?

Let’s get to free agency before anyone has a chance to answer that. The Wizards will have about $23 million in salary cap space going into this off-season*.

Even so, they aren’t considered serious contenders to land the services of any of the top free agents this summer, so toss out your dreams of landing D-Wade, CB4, or Delonte West’s stepson.

New majority owner Ted Leonsis has been twice-burned by signing high profile players as part of quick-turnaround schemes (Jaromir Jagr with the Capitals and Michael Jordan as minority owner of the Wizards) and is on-record as saying that he will take his time to rebuild this team.

This has led to much speculation that the Wizards will save most of their cap space for next summer, when the other stud of the ’03 draft class, Carmelo Anthony, is expected to be available.

I believe the Wizards will indeed hold off on making a big free agent splash this summer, perhaps conserving most of their cap space even longer than 2011. There are still some value signings that can be made this summer to help improve the team and possibly set the table for a Carmelo homecoming next year.

To really make any moves this off-season without bursting that bubble, Gilbert Arenas has to be traded for 2011 expiring contracts. The Wizards barely have enough for a max free agent right now, and the expected re-signing of Shaun Livingston plus the salary scale for a #1 pick should leave the team with cap space more in the $15 million range.

The aforementioned Arenas for Curry deal would fit the bill nicely, as Curry has only one more year on his contract, at a price comparable to Gilbert.

See my last article for a more thorough discussion of who I expect the Wizards to retain and what their needs will be, but suffice to say that the biggest needs for the Wiz are a 2 or 3 who is a good perimeter defender and a starting center.

With that said, let’s take a look at a few smart targets for the Wizards this off-season. Keep in mind for the 2011 salary estimates that there is very little to base these guesses on before the first dominoes fall in free agency and set the market.

*Overlook the erroneous figures in my previous article, as these were based on the assumption that, since Josh Howard’s option has not officially been declined yet, the Washington Post’s reports of the Wiz having $23 million in cap space did not include his contract. Thanks to the folks at RealGM for pointing out this error.

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