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2024 NBA Off-Season Preview: What’s Next For The Wizards

The Wizards have a pivotal off-season ahead of them.

The Washington Wizards finished the regular season a disappointing 15-67, second to last in the Eastern Conference. After trading away and last offseason, it’s clear the team is in a full-scale rebuild. How will this offseason shape add to that rebuild, and how soon will we again see a competitive Wizards team?

2024 NBA Off-Season Preview: What’s Next for the Washington Wizards?

Season Recap

The Wizards regular season wasn’t a particularly memorable one. The team only found their highlights on display when made a Shaqtin’ A Fool play that landed him on national television. Having traded away their stars and crucial big man at the trade deadline, it couldn’t be more apparent the Wizards priority this season wasn’t winning. Their 15 wins were the second-fewest in the NBA, behind only the Detroit Pistons.

However, midway through the season, Wes Unseld Jr. moved to the front office, and top assistant Brian Keefe became head coach. While there wasn’t a monumental shift in their record, the players and organization felt the momentum shift as a whole. The team won two games in a row for the first time in the entire season, and players felt energized. This offseason is about continuing the rebuild that management has started and adding some pieces that can help the team win games.

Projected Cap Space and Draft Picks

  • ~$9 Million ($50 Million potentially if a salary dump trade occurs)

  • 2nd, 26th, and 49th overall draft picks

  • Primary Targets:

The pick that matters most to the Wizards is the second-overall pick. If they make the right pick, this player will help solidify the team’s rebuild, and be a franchise piece for years to come. Mock drafts indicate the top two picks will be Zaccharie Risacher and Alex Sarr. While many mock drafts have Sarr going first, it’s possible that the Atlanta Hawks will pick Risacher; whatever the case, Washington will likely take the other of the two. As I wrote in this article about what the Wizards should do with this pick, however, it’d be interesting to take a pass-first guard, such as Topic, to run the offense and create opportunities for guys like Poole.

With the 26th pick, the Wizards could end up taking a big man such as from the G League, from Baylor, or of Purdue (if he falls to them). However, the franchise could also trade this pick along with another player to try and move up in the draft, if there’s a fringe lottery player that catches their eye.

Pending Free Agents and Possible Departures

Wizards Free Agents 

  • (Unrestricted)
  • (Player Option)
  • (Restricted)
  • (Restricted)

The Wizards don’t have many free agents this year, but that doesn’t mean a relaxing summer for the front office. Management has to decide if they want to keep Jones, one of the least turnover-prone guards in the NBA today. While this sounds like a no-brainer, if they decide to draft Topic, it might not make sense to hold on to Jones for $15 million a year. Holmes is important to resign, but only if the Wizards don’t draft Sarr or Risacher (which they likely will). In short: free agency isn’t very important to the team this year, though who they resign could depend on who the team drafts with the second overall pick.

Wizards Trade Pieces

Kuzma is one of the most heavily coveted non All-Star assets of this offseason. He finished the season as one of players averaging 22.0+ points per game, 6.0+ rebounds per game, and 4.0+ assists per game. While it seems like he’s happy playing for the Wizards, there’s no denying how high his trade value is, and the Wizards might need to capitalize. The same goes for Avdija, who had one of the best seasons of his career. He’s a career-high 14.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per game on 50% shooting from the field and scored 43 points on Valentine’s Day this year. Contenders could use his skills, and may not be shy in their offers.

Realistic Off-Season Targets

Trade

With lots of young (inexpensive) talent, the second overall pick, and many other draft picks, the Wizards do have the means to pursue a big-time star. Towns is an interesting player who should be at the top of the Wizards’ list. The Timberwolves are in a dire and can’t afford to pay everyone.🧔 They may need to trade one of their high-earning players to save money, and that could be Towns. Pairing him with Poole gives the Wizards a stretch big, someone who can play great defense in the paint, and boost the team overall.

꧃Tucker could do the same thing, although far less effectively and for fewer minutes. Nearing the end of his career, Tucker would be a great veteran presence for the young Wizards. He can still provide meaningful minutes off the bench, on a cheap deal.

Bridges would have a similar impact to Towns, except outside of the paint. He could pair well with Poole, knock down threes, and play amazing defense on any team’s best player. Bridges is also consistent, having never missed a single game in his NBA career. However, trading for him only makes sense if the team deals Kuzma and/or Avdija, as otherwise, he may stifle their development.

Free Agents

If it wasn’t clear enough from this list and the draft prospects above, the Wizards need a big. The combination of , , and isn’t scaring anyone, and a veteran presence could also be helpful for a young rebuilding team. Hartenstein and Plumlee are enforcers who could anchor the paint and alter shots. Valanciunas is a stretch big man, who can play good defense and knock down threes.

The real wild card, however, would be Bridges. His reputation is somewhat tainted after his off-court , but if the Wizards are willing to take a chance, he likely won’t demand much. Plus, before his issues, he was the second-best player on the Hornets and a high-flying energy guy that any team could use. Overall, the Washington Wizards’ offseason will be defined by the return they get on Avdija or Kuzma, who they draft with the 2nd overall pick, and what big man will help solidify their roster.

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