The Wizards will not be big spenders in free agency, as they don’t have a ton of cap room and it is their hope to spend it on re-signing Davis Bertans. That said, whether they ink Bertans or not, they will have some room to operate via exceptions and minimum contracts.
Here are four options for the Wizards to explore in free agency, starting with the biggest reach and working our way to the more realistic options…
Team: Brooklyn Nets
2019-20 stats: 14.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.1 apg, 0.6 spg, 48.6 FG% (5.5/11.4), 42.4 3PT% (2.5/5.9)
2019-20 salary: $7.7M
General manager Tommy Sheppard clearly covets shooters and Harris is among the best three-point marksmen in the NBA. Going after him probably only makes sense if they can’t re-sign Bertans, as they almost certainly wouldn’t be able to afford both. But there is always room for someone who can spread the floor like Harris can. He’s a 42.6 percent career shooter from three and the past two seasons has shot 44.8 percent on 5.5 attempts per game.
Harris would likely slide right in as the starting small forward. He’s an okay defender, but wouldn’t make a major difference there. So, if he’s your one, big free agent signing, you can probably only justify it if you land a rim protector in the draft or via trade.
Team: Los Angeles Lakers
2019-20 stats: 8.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.3 apg, 0.9 spg, 44.4 FG% (3.5/7.8), 36.4 3PT% (1.3/3.5)
2019-20 salary: $4.8M (has 2020-21 player option)
Bradley would help the Wizards fill one of their biggest needs and that is perimeter defense. He may not be the All-Defense player he was in Boston, but he would immediately stand out on the Wizards’ roster. The Wizards would ask a simple role of him: back up Wall and Beal with physical, scrappy defense.
Bradley can still do that decently well and would likely be a good complement for Beal when he becomes the primary ballhandler with Wall on the bench. Beal could be the point guard on offense while Bradley assumes that role on the other end. The question with Bradley is whether a team like the Wizards can lure him away from contenders like the Bucks and Warriors, who are reportedly interested. But from a pure, basketball standpoint he would fit very well in Washington.
Team: San Antonio Spurs
2019-20 stats: 11.2 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 1.7 apg, 0.5 spg, 41.7 FG% (3.8/9.2), 38.8 3PT% (2.3/6.0)
2019-20 salary: $2.9M
Now we move to the bargain (and more realistic) options for the Wizards to sign. Forbes is a solid back-up shooting guard who is close to being an elite three-point shooter. He has shot 40 percent from beyond the arc for his career and just two years ago knocked down 42.6 percent on 5.0 attempts per game. For comparison, Bertans shot 42.9 percent on 4.4 attempts his last year in San Antonio before he came to the Wizards and had a breakout season.
Forbes isn’t a very good defender, but the Wizards aren’t going to find complete players in Forbes’ price range. Maybe they could tap into some of his potential on that end, as he does have a strong build and could, in theory, be a physical force on the perimeter. Plus, just because you stand out as a bad defensive player on the Spurs doesn’t mean the same will occur on the Wizards. He might represent an improvement over what they have seen recently in their second unit.
Age: 27 (turns 28 in Jan.)
Team: Milwaukee Bucks
2019-20 stats: 5.4 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.6 apg, 0.4 spg, 45.5 FG% (2.0/4.5), 33.1 3PT% (0.8/2.5)
2019-20 salary: $1.7M
Like Forbes, Connaughton likely wouldn’t cost much and he does a few very specific things well. For one, he would give the Wizards a boost in athleticism, which they are seeking this offseason. The guy can jump out of the gym. Plus, he’s a physical defender and a very good rebounder for his position. Connaugton averaged 4.2 rebounds per game each of the past two seasons and in 2019-20 pulled in 8.2 boards per 36 minutes. By that measure, he was the best rebounding shooting guard in the league.
As bad as the Wizards are defensively, they are nearly as bad at rebounding and that plays into the problem. Sometimes they force misses and don’t complete the stop with a defensive board. Connaughton could help that cause. And though he’s not a great shooter, he’s a consistently decent in that area. His 54.7 effective field goal percentage last season definitely checks out, considering his role.