The Washington Wizards Game 7 loss to the rival Boston Celtics was a microcosm of their entire 2016-17 season; the team was carried by the quartet of John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, and Markieff Morris but was ultimately let down by poor defense and a pitiful showing by their second unit. These are areas that need to be addressed by the Wizards front office this offseason or they run the risk of plateauing and wasting the best core group of players they have had since the 70’s.

Unfortunately, the Wizards front office has very little cap room to play with as they have just north of 91 million dollars currently tied up in guaranteed contracts (and Martell Webster’s dead contract) which leaves them with about 9 million dollars in cap space to use towards free agents. There are plenty of free agents on the market that would be great additions to the Wizards roster, they key will be finding quality players that can be brought in at the right cost.

Here are 10 players that the Wizards organization should look into once free agency rolls around:

 

The Reaches

Darren Collison

Projected Value: $13-15 million

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Darren Collison is one of the most steady point guards in the NBA that nobody seems to talk about. Since entering the league in 2009, Collison has put up career averages of 12.7 points, 4.8 assists, and 1.1 steals per game while knocking down 38 percent of his triples.

The Wizards could use that kind of steady production from their backup point guard position, as the trio of Brandon Jennings, Trey Burke, and Tomas Satoransky produced a paltry 4.09 points and 2.19 assists per game. Collison would immediately come in and provide the second unit with a player capable of orchestrating the offense, scoring consistently, and running the fast break.

Don’t expect to see Collison in the Nation’s Capital any time soon, however, as it is probable he will end up out of the Wizards price range when all is said and done. Despite this, the Wizards front office should at least kick the tires on Collison and see if they can convince him to take a pay cut for the opportunity to play for a contending team.

 

Patty Mills

Projected Value: $10-12 million

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In the span of a few years, Patty Mills has steadily risen from being a relative unknown to one of the better backup point guards that the NBA has to offer. Mills started his career in Portland where he put up per game averages of 5.1 points and 1.5 assists in 11.1 minutes of action, since landing in San Antonio he has bumped those averages up to 8.4, 2.3, and 18.1 respectively.

Mills is not a prototypical point guard, but he offers a skill set that none of the Wizards backup guards possess; he is capable of playing both guard spots, he is a prolific three point shooter, and he brings unparalleled energy every time he steps on the court. Adding Mills would give the Wizards a veteran backcourt presence with a championship pedigree, while also providing Scott Brooks flexibility by allowing him to mix and match his guards in a variety of different ways.

With the Spurs having already been linked to numerous big name free agent point guards, it seems that the team is seeking an upgrade at the position which could leave Mills seeking employment elsewhere. The issue is that there are several teams with an abundance of cap space that are in need of guards like Mills, meaning he will likely end up out of the Wizards price range.

 

JaMychal Green

Projected Value: $13-15 million

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JaMychal Green is a great story; after going undrafted in 2012, Green withstood several stints in the NBA D-League and a short stint overseas before finally earning his shot with the Memphis Grizzlies in 2015. Since then, he has slowly seen his role with the team expand, culminating in a career best season during 2016-17 in which he averaged 8.9 points and 7.1 rebounds per game while shooting 38 percent from three.

Green provides everything that the Wizards big men currently lack: youth, athleticism, rebounding, energy, rim protection, pick and roll defense, and on top of that his shooting range extends all the way out to the three point line. Quite simply, the Wizards need a player like Green on their roster.

Herein lies the problem; Green is a restricted free agent so it will be difficult any team to pry him away from the Grizzlies, let alone at a reasonable cost. For this reason, signing JaMychal Green seems to be nothing more than a pipe dream.

 

The Realistic Impact Players

Shelvin Mack

Projected Value: $5-7 million

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Shelvin Mack, not to be confused with Sheldon Mac, should be a name that is familiar to all who have followed Wizards basketball in recent years. The reason why is because the Wizards selected him with the 34th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft and he spent a few seasons as the team’s reserve guard before being waived during the 2012-13 season. Since then, Mack has established himself as a reliable backup guard by stringing together several successful seasons as a member of both the Hawks and Jazz.

The Wizards bench needs help in a lot of areas, but one big thing that has held the unit back is a lack of consistency. One way the team could remedy this problem is by acquiring a stable presence at the point guard position, in other words someone who is capable of running the offense and delivering steady production night in and night out. For these reasons, Shelvin Mack should be of interest to the Wizards as he has proven to be a reliable backup guard who supplies consistent contributions on both the offensive and defensive end of the floor every night.

 

Tyreke Evans

Projected Value: $7-9 million

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Quick question, can anyone guess who the 2010 NBA Rookie of the Year was? Steph Curry? Close, but no cigar. It was actually none other than Tyreke Evans. Many people tend to forget that at one point in time, Evans was one of the most promising young players in basketball. Eight years and multiple knee surgeries later, Evans has become a shell of his former self as he has seen his hallmark athleticism slowly diminish while spending the better part of the last two seasons on the shelf.

In spite of this, Evans possesses something that the Wizards currently lack on their bench: scoring pedigree. In his 9 year NBA career, Evans has averaged 16.1 points, 5.1 assists, and 4.8 rebounds per game. That kind of production would go a long way towards fixing a bench unit that averaged a meager 27 points per game, good for 29th in the NBA during the regular season. Signing Evans would be a considerable risk due to his lengthy injury history, however, his potent scoring ability makes him a risk worth taking at the right price.

 

P.J. Tucker

Projected Value: $7-9 million

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P.J. Tucker’s journey to NBA relevancy has been a long and arduous one; Tucker was a second round pick of the Toronto Raptors in 2006, but not even a year after being drafted he found himself out of the league. He ended up playing overseas to work on his game before he landed a multi-year contract with the Phoenix Suns in 2012. Since then, he has demonstrated that he belongs in The Association by playing a rugged brand of defense and averaging a respectable 7.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.

There is one reason why the Wizards should be interested in acquiring Tucker’s services: defense. Saying the Wizards struggled on the defensive end of the floor would be an understatement, the team ended the season ranked 20th in the league in defensive efficiency and they displayed a clear lack of defensive identity, focus, and effort. Adding Tucker would immediately help in all of these areas, plus he has proven to be a disruptive on ball defender who is capable of matching up with the opposing team’s best player. If the Wizards want to focus their efforts on fixing their defense this offseason, they should look no further than signing P.J. Tucker.

 

The Players With Upside

Ian Clark

Projected Value: $5-7 million

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Of all the players on the Golden State Warriors roster one of the least recognizable names is Ian Clark, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that means he isn’t a quality player. In his four NBA seasons, Clark has slowly transformed himself from a last-man-off-the-bench type to an important contributor for one of the NBA’s best teams. This past season, he averaged a career high 6.8 points while shooting 37.4 percent from beyond the arc.

Clark would be a an ideal pickup for the Wizards; he can play both guard spots, has shown confidence when asked to facilitate, can shoot the lights out, and has untapped scoring potential. The Wizards could use a player with all of these skills on their bench to ease the burden on John Wall and Bradley Beal as well as push the other guards on the roster to step their game up. Considering Clark’s skill set and the possibility of getting him on the cheap, this should be a no brainer for the Wizards brass.

 

Justin Holiday

Projected Value: $4-6 million

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Justin Holiday is not very well known for his basketball escapades, but rather because he is the brother of Pelicans star point guard Jrue Holiday. That seems likely to change soon as Justin is coming off the best season of his young career, a season in which he averaged 7.7 points per game while shooting a respectable 35 percent from three point land.

Holiday’s addition would make a difference in several key areas that the Wizards bench needs help in: ball handling, three point shooting, defense, passing, and pick and roll offense. In essence, the Wizards would be getting a glue guy who is capable of contributing in all areas of the game and a player who has the potential to grow with increased playing time. Getting a player who can provide all of that at a low cost is a rarity in the NBA so the Wizards should jump at the opportunity to sign Holiday when the free agency period starts.

 

Ben McLemore

Projected Value: $5-7 million

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Ben McLemore’s career to this point has not gone as planned. He came into the league with high expectations as many believed that his combination of size, athleticism, and shooting ability made him a shoo-in to succeed at the NBA level. For a variety of reasons, McLemore has been unable to live up to those expectations to this point in his career as he has averaged a mere 9.4 points per game while shooting 35.2 percent from three point range, a far cry from what he was expected to be producing at this point in his career.

Despite his lack of production, McLemore still possesses the tools that made him such a coveted prospect coming out of college which makes signing him an intriguing proposition. The Wizards have a player similar to McLemore in Bradley Beal, so it is reasonable to assume that the team would have a solid understanding of how to unlock his potential. Signing McLemore would be a calculated risk considering the possibility that he doesn’t make any strides in his development, however, his potential as a scorer and three point sniper are too tantalizing to pass up at this cost.

 

The Wild Card

Chris Bosh

Projected Value: ?????

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In his heyday Chris Bosh was one of the best power forwards in the league, averaging an impressive 19.2 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks per game over his 13 year career. Sadly, Bosh has had to sit out the better part of the past two seasons due to recurring blood clotting issues that have put his career, and life, in jeopardy. Although he is still under contract with the Heat, the two sides are currently working on a resolution that would free the team from Bosh’s contract and allow him to sign elsewhere in free agency if he is cleared by doctors.

It is unknown whether Bosh will be able to play again considering the severity of his medical condition, however, if he is cleared by doctors then his scoring, rebounding, and ability to shoot the ball from long range would be welcome additions to the Wizards’ bench.