Biggest off-season questions and needs for Wizards start with Bradley Beal

The Wizards missed the playoffs for the third time in four years. As they enter another offseason hoping to make substantial improvements, here are the five biggest questions they will face…

Does Beal re-sign?

Clearly the biggest and most important question facing the Wizards this offseason is the future of the contract. Bradley Beal, who can opt out of the final year of his contract and earn a five-year deal worth around $245 million. Sorcerers want to keep it and it seems to lean to stay, but until he signs on the dotted line, it’s a question that casts a shadow over the rest of the franchise this summer.

If he re-signs, the Wizards will keep a very good player but will also have to operate with him representing 35% of the salary cap. If he leaves them to free will, wizards might be forced into a rebuilding or at least a very different future. Maybe they could recoup some value in a sign-and-trade scenario.

Although Beal has indicated he’s likely to re-sign, there’s another big question that could be hugely important in all of this: is he taking meetings? Can Jayson Tatum, his childhood friend, make an official opening on behalf of the Celtics? Can Pat Riley, perhaps the greatest free agency pitcher in NBA history, sell him to play in South Beach? If Beal goes on a free agency tour, it will be out of the wizards’ control. Given that, they probably want to get a commitment as soon as possible.

Who starts as point guard?

Whether Beal returns or not, the Wizards will buy a new starting point guard. They thought they had found their general floor during the last offseason with Spencer Dinwiddie, but that experiment ended in a few months. Now the wizards must not only find a point guard, but also avoid what happened with Dinwiddie. That means finding someone who can develop quick chemistry with Beal, should he come back, and probably someone who handles the offense by going first rather than someone looking for their own shot, if you listen to head coach Wes Unseld Jr. Ideally, they could defend and make three, given the needs of Wizards.

The Wizards are likely to find this player in trade or free agency, as the draft is unlikely to offer a plug-and-play solution to this position. It’s not a deep draft class at point guard, at least at the top. Free agent options could include Collin Sexton, Delon Wright and Ricky Rubio (coming out of a torn ACL). Maybe someone from their past like John Wall or Russell Westbrook is coming to market after a buyout. If it’s via trade, Malcolm Brogdon is a name to watch given that he would be available and perfectly suited for his shooting and defense.

How to fix defense and shooting?

The Wizards’ two biggest needs in a general sense are defense and 3-point shooting, which are the same areas they tried to solve last offseason. This must be frustrating for the front office and perhaps adding to that frustration is the fact that they seemed to have far better staff than them. Defensively, they have decent wings and shot blockers behind them. They also (and especially earlier this season) have guys with solid track records as outside shooters.

It just didn’t work as expected and now wizards have to figure out how to fix these problems and exactly what to do to fix them. They finished the season 25th in the NBA in defensive rankings and dead last in 3 points. But they also added Kristaps Porzingis at the trade deadline and after the all-star break, he ranked 10th in 3-point percentage. They’ve already helped themselves a little, but probably still need a lot of roster work to complete the repairs.

A chance at the lottery?

The only good thing about missing the playoffs is that the Wizards are going to have a lottery pick and even though they won four of five late in the season, they haven’t sabotaged their lottery odds significantly. They are going to be in the 9-10 range in the lottery, depending on what happens with Spurs on Sunday night and potentially with their game play. Basically, Wizards will have between 13.9% and 20.3% chance of landing a choice among the first 4.

The Wizards have had bad luck in the lottery in their recent experiences, including in 2019 when they had sixth-best odds and fell back to ninth. Meanwhile, the ninth team in the lottery that year, the Pelicans, moved up to No. 1. Maybe this year will be different for the Wizards and the ping pong balls will go their way. If they can get into the top 4, they should be in a very good position as four players seem to have separated themselves from the others in this draft; Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero and Jaden Ivey. But either way, the Wizards will be in a good position to get a talented player. Recent drafts have had tons of great options still on the board in the lottery backend.

Time to swap young guys?

Where the Wizards’ draft will also help determine how attractive their best trade offer might be this offseason, especially if they want to swing for the fences with a blockbuster trade for a star. That, and trading in general, will also have to be taken into account to know if they are ready to part ways with one of their young players. The Wizards have rebuffed offers from Deni Avdija and Rui Hachimura in the past, but those two, along with Corey Kispert and Daniel Gafford, would likely generate some trade interest.

Hachimura happens to be eligible for the expansion, so that’s a consideration. He’s the only one without multi-year contract security and for guys like Avdija and Kispert, in particular, the fact that they’re still on rookie contracts makes them very valuable to the Wizards, especially if they’re going to give away. in Beal a supermax. Gafford is going to get a big raise in 2023-24 but can still be a bargain even when his extension kicks in if he continues to improve. Hachimura is the one to watch here, as he will need to receive a pretty big raise over the next year and beyond.

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