NBA

NBA Free Agency 2024: Key Decisions for the Washington Wizards

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The Washington Wizards crushed the 2024 NBA Draft, selecting three talented prospects to kickstart what’s expected to be a long and tenuous rebuild.

While it’s easy to get caught in the moment, Washington’s front office has more work to do. Contract deadlines, free agency and potential trades await. And today at 6 p.m. ET, the Wizards (and all teams) get to start negotiating with players who were on different rosters last season.

Washington’s second-year general manager Will Dawkins will head the operation, attempting to make calculated decisions with the future in mind.

Here’s a look ahead to some of those decisions, with analysis on each potential move.

Holmes inks new deal

The Wizards kicked off the post-draft offseason with a surprise move, signing center Richaun Holmes to a two year, $25.9 million deal. This comes on the heels of Holmes declining his $12.9 million player option, one many believed the high-energy big man would exercise.

While the deal may seem like a steep investment for a 31-year-old backup center, it’s basically as if Holmes picked up his option, and here’s why.

The second year of Holmes’ new deal includes just $250,000 in guaranteed money, allowing Washington to waive Holmes before the 2025-26 season for close to no financial loss if they choose to do so.

Additionally, the deal makes Holmes more tradable, for Washington can keep him an extra year as they continue to build his value and look for a suitable trade partner, whether that’s at February’s deadline or during the 2025 offseason.

Wizards decline Vukcevic’s option

On Saturday, the Wizards declined the team option of second-year center Tristan Vukcevic.

Washington selected Vukcevic with the No. 42 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. When the Serbian seven-footer came over toward the end of last season, he impressed, averaging 8.5 points and 3.6 rebounds across ten contests.

Now, don’t panic, for this is likely a calculated move. Washington would prefer to ink Vukcevic to a new, long-term deal, keeping him in D.C. for the next 3-4 years.

Vukcevic’s previous contract included the end of last season in addition to the 2024-25 campaign, which would’ve made him a restricted free agent at next season’s end. With Washington declining Vukcevic’s option, the sides are free to negotiate a new, multiyear deal.

Wizards push Shamet’s guarantee date

Thursday, Wizards guard Landry Shamet had his contract guarantee date pushed back to July 13.

The deadline was originally June 29, but was delayed two weeks to give Washington time to find a suitable trade partner for their sharpshooting guard.

Shamet is on the books for $11 million in non-guaranteed salary next season, which the Wizards would guarantee should they find a trade partner in the next two weeks.

If the Wizards are unable to entice a team to take on Shamet, however, I would still expect them to guarantee the veteran’s salary for next season with the intent to play him bench minutes, increase his value and look for a trade at February’s deadline.

The other option is to simply not guarantee Shamet’s salary for next season, making him an unrestricted free agent — a move that would net Washington zero return for what’s considered a solid player with decent trade value.

The Wizards’ other free agents: Tyus Jones, Anthony Gill

Acquired by Washington in last year’s Kristaps Porzingis trade, Tyus Jones enjoyed a career-season for the Wizards, averaging 12 points and seven assists en route to leading the league in assist-to-turnover ratio for an impressive sixth-straight season.

Washington attempted to trade Jones at last year’s deadline but was unsuccessful. Expect the Wizards to gauge the sign-&-trade market for Jones who’s about to enter unrestricted free agency.

If Washington can’t find a trade partner, Jones will sign elsewhere.

As for Anthony Gill, a veteran minimum makes sense for both he and the Wizards. For a young team such as the rebuilding Wizards, established vets who understand the league are vitally important to player development. Who better than Gill, a player whose teammates and coaches have raved about his professionalism, work ethic and kindness ever since his arrival in Washington.

Gill’s tutelage will be worth the contract alone, which is why I’d lean toward the 31-year-old veteran returning to D.C. for another season.

Malcolm Brogdon: Trade or keep?

While Deni Avdija and Bub Carrington were the centerpieces of Wednesday’s trade, Malcolm Brogdon is a sneaky good addition to Washington’s pool of assets.

In a mentor-like role with Portland last season, the Virginia product averaged 15 points and five assists on 41.2% 3PT. At 31 years old, Brogdon’s still got some burst, enough to aid a contending team.

In terms of trade value, Brogdon won’t warrant a first-round pick and a promising prospect like he did back in 2022. However, Washington can still find return value in their new point guard, whether they deal him before the season or hold onto him and look to move him in February.

About Greg Finberg

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