Unexpected Moves Washington Wizards Could Make in Free Agency

Jonathan Munshaw@@jon_munshawCorrespondent IJune 22, 2013

Gary Neal, who will be a free agent this offseason, would need some convincing to leave San Antonio, who he has spent three seasons with.
Gary Neal, who will be a free agent this offseason, would need some convincing to leave San Antonio, who he has spent three seasons with.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Over the past several offseasons, the Washington Wizards have been focused on dumping large contracts and picking up value players to fill holes in the roster. However, this offseason may be the time for the Wizards to make some unexpected moves in free agency.

Signing these unexpected players would not only bring improvement to Washington's roster, it would finally bring some positive attention to the team and some excitement to the nation's capital.

Washington's options in free agency are limited with its almost complete lack of cap room. However, since Washington isn't into the luxury tax, it has the option to use the mid-level exception to sign players—which is set at $5.150 million this offseason under the new collective bargaining agreement.

That amount gives them the option to sign one player, and maybe even two depending upon the salaries of the desired free agents. Of course, the team's needs can change depending upon who the Wizards end up drafting on Thursday.

While the draft is one way to turn some heads in the media and throughout the NBA fanbase, the Wizards should considering signing these three players using the MLE.

These players aren't necessarily the biggest names, but it would be surprising if the Wizards signed any of these players—given the fact that Washington hasn't been that big of a player in free agency in previous years.


Nate Robinson

Although Robinson only made $1.1 million this year with the Chicago Bulls, his value was driven up by his performance in the NBA playoffs this season.

Robinson, who spent most of the year filling in at point guard for the Bulls with Derrick Rose out the entire year, had a monster postseason—averaging 16 points and four assists per game. When the Bulls needed a spark, Robinson was there to get the rest of Chicago's players going. 

While it wasn't enough to get them deep into the playoffs, Robinson was still very impressive and quickly caught the nation's attention by bringing more energy to the court than anyone else.

Even during the regular season, Robinson put up 13 points and four assists per game and had point totals of 35 and 34 twice in various games.

Robinson's value may be a little higher after this season, but he will be an unrestricted free agent. The Wizards should pursue Robinson to replace A.J. Price as the backup point guard. Even if John Wall stays healthy all season, Robinson could be a veteran presence in the locker room and could come off the bench as the sixth man to inject energy into the lineup.

This is especially important for the Wizards, who often looked flat this season. And if Wall was to sustain an injury again, especially one that would leave him out for an extended period of time, Robinson would certainly suffice as a starting point guard. 


Gary Neal

In three seasons in the NBA, Neal has never come close to being a superstar with the San Antonio Spurs, but he has been a solid bench player. 

If the Wizards were to sign someone else, like Martell Webster or Robinson with the MLE, Neal could certainly be signed for a small contract—allowing Washington to grab two players with their exception.

Neal made less than $1 million this year with the Spurs. That's pretty decent value for someone averaging just about 10 points per game and is an 80 percent free-throw shooter.

Neal, who spent time playing in Europe after coming out of Towson, has found his way in the NBA and proved that he is willing to work hard. And with players like Jan Vesely on the team, the Wizards could use some of those workers.

It would be hard to pull Neal away from San Antonio after the run they made this year to the NBA Finals, but if Washington could out-bid the Spurs it would be a huge benefit to them off the bench. Bradley Beal's health is certainly a question heading into the 2013-14 season, and Neal could start if need be.

Garrett Temple was starting at shooting guard when Beal missed the last part of the season, but he is a free agent this offseason with the Wizards to send a qualifying offer to Temple. 

But if they were able to bring in someone like Neal, re-signing Temple wouldn't be necessary. Neal is a much better shooting guard than Temple.


Jerryd Bayless

If Robinson chooses to stay with the Bulls or go to another team, Bayless wouldn't be bad option at backup point guard.

Bayless, who was fairly over-paid with the Memphis Grizzlies at $3.135 million this year, was amnestied and will be a free agent this offseason. 

Only averaging eight points per game during the 2012-13 season, Bayless could be brought in to Washington for significantly less than $3 million. But with no Price, the Wizards still need a backup point guard.

Bayless hasn't been talked about at all in the free-agency discussion.

He has never been a real starter in the NBA—only starting in 40 games in five seasons—but he would be a better option coming off the bench than Price was this year. 

In 2011 when he came off the bench for the Toronto Raptors, Bayless averaged 11 points per game—a number that was down by about three points this year.

However, Bayless is a career 82 percent free-throw shooter and did have some scoring outbursts, like a 24-point game back in April against the New York Knicks. Bayless has always been a quiet player, but most Wizards fans would be surprised if he was signed.


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