Wizards’ Offseason: The Book of Ernie

Written by Joe Civiello (@Joe_Civ)
Quick Summer league notes:

Summer league is wrapped up. The Wizards had partially guaranteed contracts given to Daniel Ochefu and Sheldon McCllelan after the draft, two players we were excited to see. It turns out 28 year old center Michael Eric, and swingman Danuel House balled out. House earned himself a partially guaranteed contract and is going to get a hard look in camp. McCllelan in college shot the ball well and was a tremendous athlete, but underwhelmed in summer league. Oubre looked good for majority of stretches as well. Now on to the main part of this post…

If you haven’t heard, the Washington Wizards missed out on that KD2DC dream that we’ve all thought about for the last couple of years. Kevin Durant didn’t want to be a hometown hero and get his own monument next to the Verizon Center in Chinatown, so where do the Wiz go from here? Well, I guess summer really is spending season. The new TV deals with the NBA=higher salaries and more people bitching about how NBA players get overpaid. Once the Wizards were told they wouldn’t get a meeting with Kevin Durant (C’mon bro, not even a phone call?) they quickly re-signed Shooting Guard Bradley Beal to a 5 year $128 million max contract. After locking up Beal, Wizards General Manager Ernie Grunfeld established Al Horford, Ryan Anderson, Nic Batum as targets for the team during Fee Agency. He failed to sign any of them, but was it a complete failure?

With roughly $30 million in cap space the Wizards made some moves that we here at CDCSF approve. So with further ado, here are the new guys: 

Center Ian Mahinmi agrees to a 4 year/$64 million contract

mahimi
Rim protector Ian.

Don’t freak out…I know it seems really bad, but let me explain. Ian Mahinmi will be making an average of $16 million per year starting next season. Marcin Gortat, the presumed starting C, is making almost $4 mil less than Mahinmi.  At this point no one knows whether him or Marcin Gortat will be the starting center, but what we do know is that the Wizards will improve regardless. Mahinmi gives the Wizards a much-needed defensive presence in the paint. At 6’11 250 lbs he is solid at screen and rolls and plays well in positional defense as well as help defense. I think if you told me a year ago the Wizards would cash out on Ian Mahinmi I would’ve laughed at you, but looking back it’s easy to understand why they felt the need to sign him. This team hasn’t had a great rim protector in years and Ian helps in that regard. He improves the team in areas where it lacked last year, can’t hate that.

Power Forward Andrew Nicholson agrees to a 4 year/$26 million contract

nicholson.gif
Torture Chamber aka impeccable footwork on the block.

This is the first true “Stretch 4” John Wall has played with on the Wizards. Nicholson is a 6’9 250 lb power forward. He is slow as molasses, but has a variety of effective post moves to go along with a 3-point jumper that has improved all 4 years he has been in the league (36% from 3 in 2016). In Orlando Nicholson’s post game was so good it was dubbed “The Torture Chamber”. If the big guy can give the Wiz a solid 10-15 minutes a game, then I’m okay with this. Besides, anything is better than Kris Humphries trying to shoot 3’s for your team.

 

Combo Guard Tomas Satoransky agrees to a 3 years/$9 million contract

Sato
Looking good Tomas!

Tomas is of Czech nationality and was the second round draft pick for the Wizards in 2012. The 6’7 point guard recently played in the ACB League in Europe, formerly a member of FC Barcelona. Look, I know The Wizards have botched the whole Euro-project thing before with guys like former 2011 6th overall pick Jan Vesely (also Czech), but this guy might be a little different. Fran Fraschilla, who is highly respected in international scouting circles, says Satoransky is ready for the NBA:

“You’re talking about an incredible kid. He’s the boy next door. He’s just a great guy — a basketball junkie, gym rat, and great teammate”

These are the types of guys the Wizards need.

With the inflated market, $3 million per year is looking like a bargain for an athletic guard with potential off the bench.

sato
International flight coming into Washington DC.

Wizards trade 2021 second round draft pick for point guard Trey Burke

Burke’s Cap hit in 2016/2017 season: $3.4 mil

Trey
Will he wear 33? Who knows?

 Looks like Burke will be the new backup point guard behind John Wall.  The one thing that has always stood out about Trey is that he’s fearless on the court. He’s a functional point guard that can create his own shot and run the pick and roll effectively. He was amazing at Michigan, but he’s struggled mightily in the NBA.  Trey got lost in the rotation in Utah and never really recovered. On defense he can be a bulldog, but his height disadvantage is killer because of so many big athletic combo guards in the league nowadays. He will get plenty of practice competing against John Wall. Burke is on a contract year with something to prove though, and the pressure isn’t on him to carry the team, unlike in 2013 when he was drafted in the top 10. Again, great value with this pickup.

Jason Smith agrees to a 3 year/$16 million contract

jason smith
Pretty sure Ernie signed him in frustration of not getting Durant. Said there was a “hefty bonus” if he did this.

 Jason Smith is a no nonsense player. He gives effort, hits the occasional 3, blocks some shots, and has an absolutely wet a midrange jumper when given the chance. In fact, they say his midrange is actually more deadly than a Barrett .50 Caliber Rifle.  He shot 47% from midrange last season. At 7’0 tall he is a bit of a stretch C/PF, but he is definitely more comfortable from mid than 3-point land. This is more of a locker room signing. Smith carries himself as a professional so we can only hope it rubs off on the young guys.

 

Are these superstar pickups? Absolutely NOT. Is it what we expected after clearing cap space for 2 years for the Summer ’16 sweepstakes? Hellllll no it isn’t.  But even though the Wizards didn’t exactly sign a star, they improved the bench and got younger.  When plans A, B, and C don’t work out you can always look to improve bench depth and the Wiz did a solid job of that. This team is better than last year. Not only did they improve the bench depth, but they got younger as well. The average age of the roster is only 24 years old and the core is still improving. The Wizards are hoping the core of John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, and Kelly Oubre improves to become perennial playoff contenders. Now the pressure is on Head Coach Scott Brooks and staff to develop and lead the team.

 

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