Normally, when I write a Washington Wizards review, it will go like this:
The Wizards stink as always, they will likely have the number 6 pick in the NBA Draft and miss on that pick.
This would go on like a cycle. Not this year.
Some were not stunned that the Wizards made the playoffs because of John Wall and Bradley Beal. What I didn’t taken into account was most of the Eastern Conference teams tanking to get the top pick of a rich and deep 2014 draft class. The Wizards would have to earn their way to be at the bottom. This season, the team really grew up with John Wall becoming a first time all-star, Bradley Beal moving into discussions of Ray Allen status, and contributions of Trevor Ariza, Nene, Marcin Gortat, and the bench help the Wizards to be a respectable team in the regular season.
It was in the playoffs, the Wizards moved up from respectable to up-and-coming. Most thought the Chicago Bulls would beat the Wizards because of tehir experience. Instead, the Wizards were a faster, more athletic team that beat the Bulls in 5 and starting talks of even Eastern Conference Finals. In Game 1 vs. Pacers, Eastern Conference Finals talks intensified as the Wizards won. Then, the Pacers fishing trip, Andrew Bynum left off the playoff roster, and John Thompson III appearance in Indianapolis woke up the Pacers, specifically Roy Hibbert, to beat the Wizards in 6.
Now, this is where the Wizards need to market themselves as a destination, not a one-stop convenience store for the past 35 years. Mike Prada, of SB Nation, put it perfectly that the Wizards need to make some noise in free agency, even if they don’t get the players. Wizards General Manager, Ernie Grunfeld (assuming Leonsis renews his contract), has to decide if he can re-sign either Ariza, Gortat, both, or re-cast them. Here’s another thing to keep in mind: Kevin Durant’s contract expires in the end of 2016, and so does Nene. I do want the Wizards to still be good, but they need to have a plan. If that plan is Kevin Durant, then either Gortat or Ariza (or both) sign a two-year deal and then possibly trade them to Oklahoma City for Durant.
Ultimately, this is Ted Leonsis’s decision. He prefers to be under the cap and not pay any luxury taxes, but you want to have a championship team, you have to pay, by any means necessary.
The Washington Wizards used to be one of the doormats of the NBA. Now, it could potentially be the place for high-caliber free agents to come by to join Wall and Beal. The ball is really on Leonsis’s court of how the team will look like in a few years.