Wizards

Wizards No Longer in Salary-Cap Hell

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A year ago, the Washington Wizards were in salary-cap hell.

Then-General Manager Tommy Sheppard was paying Bradley Beal $50+ million per year for the next four years and expected to give $30+ million extensions to both Kyle Kuzma and Kristaps Porzingis.

Before Sheppard could further the damage, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis relieved him of his duties, ushering in a new era of Wizards basketball. President of Monumental basketball Michael Winger and General Manager Will Dawkins have since stepped in to right the ship in Washington.

Now under new leadership, the future looks bright for the first time since 2017. Beal’s supermax contract is off the books, Porzingis wasn’t given $30 million per season like many expected a year ago, and Kuzma’s contract turned out to be cheaper than anticipated.

After all that praise, it’s only right that I provide the people with a full breakdown of the Wizards’ salary cap for the next couple years.

Here’s how Washington’s financials look over the next three seasons:

Salary cap figures found on Spotrac.com

Each year will include the top-four earners, expiring deals and notes highlighting key dates and player/team options.

* = player option

2024-25

Poole, as the Wizards’ highest-paid player in 2024-25, makes up 21% of the team’s total cap figure. For reference, Beal’s contract would take up nearly 38.6% of the Wizards’ cap space if he was still on the roster.

Free agents after this season

Important notes

  • Richaun Holmes has a player option that he’ll likely exercise for the 2024-25 season
  • Corey Kispert is slotted to become a restricted free agent after this season, but could secure an extension before hitting the open market. Teammate Deni Avdija was in a similar situation last offseason before signing a rookie extension in October.
  • Tristan Vukcevic’s current deal includes a team option for 2024-25. Expect Washington to decline that option and, instead, sign Vukcevic to a new two-year deal. The deadline to decline Vukcevic’s option is June 29.
  • Landry Shamet has an $11 million team option that is expected to be declined, making him an unrestricted free agent prior to the 2024-25 season and keeping him off the books.
  • Ryan Rollins is no longer with the team, but brings forth a dead cap hit of $600,000
  • Washington’s No. 2 pick has a cap hit of $11,278,680.
  • Pick No. 26: $2,630,040

2025-26

  • Jordan Poole: $31,848,215
  • Kyle Kuzma: $21,477,273
  • Deni Avdija: $14,375,000
  • Bilal Coulibaly: $7,275,600

Since Washington owns the No. 2 overall pick, that player will surpass Coulibaly for the fourth-highest-paid Wizard in 2025-26.

Free agents after this season

Washington holds Bird rights on all three players, allowing them to match any offer from another team to bring that player back to D.C.

Important notes

  • The Wizards deadline to pick up fourth-year options for Johnny Davis and Patrick Baldwin Jr. is Oct. 31, 2024. Expect the team to decline the options and let Davis/Baldwin prove themselves to earn a new deal.
  • Washington’s deadline on Bilal Coulibaly’s third-year option is Oct. 31, 2024.
  • Kyle Kuzma and Deni Avdija have descending contracts, meaning their cap hit decreases every year of their deal.

2026-27

  • Jordan Poole: $34,044,642
  • Kyle Kuzma: $19,431,818
  • Deni Avdija: $13,125,000
  • Bilal Coulibaly: $9,240,012

These are the only players currently under contract for this season. Washington’s 2024 draft picks will be added to this list.

Free agents after this season

  • Jordan Poole
  • Kyle Kuzma
  • Bilal Coulibaly

Important notes

  • Deni Avdija still has one year remaining on his deal following this season
  • Bilal Coulibaly becomes a restricted free agent after this season, with Washington holding his bird rights.

The three biggest takeaways from Washington’s cap sheets:

  1. Flexibility: The Wizards have tons of wiggle room. They have space to extend young players in Kispert and Coulibaly, and could make a run at top free agents when the time is right. Additionally, Dawkins could move veterans like Holmes and Bagley III at the deadline to create more cap room.
  2. Kuzma’s contract: The descending cap hits in Kuzma’s deal make it so the bulk of his money comes in the first two years, then becomes team-friendly in years three and four. Not only does it make it easier to build a contender around Kuzma and Poole, but it also means Kuzma’s contract is easily moveable. Like we saw with Dallas at last year’s deadline, a contender would snatch Kuzma up in a heartbeat if made available under such a cheap contract.
  3. Possibility of a Corey Kispert extension: Deni Avdija entered last season in a similar situation to Kispert: Extension-eligible player with high upside. Dawkins awarded Avdija with a contract just before Washington kicked off its 2023-24 campaign. Could we see a similar story with the Wizards front office looking to lock up one of its best young players prior to a contract year?

About Greg Finberg

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