MIAMI FL - FEBRUARY 25: Rashard Lewis #9 of the Washington Wizards handles the ball against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on February 25 2011 in Miami Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and/or using this Photograph User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
The Washington Wizards insist they will retain Rashard Lewis, which likely means that not a whole lot will be happening in the Wizards' front office in the next few weeks.
The Washington Wizards are right in the middle of rebuilding around John Wall and ... uh, well John Wall! Washington picked up Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton in the June draft and has plenty of cap space to not play with. Prudence has a name, and its name is the Washington Wizards. (It's a nice change from the remarkably imprudent Gilbert Arenas-for-$110-million Wizards.)
Here's a look at the Wizards' salary cap levels over the past six seasons.
After unloading Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and Antawn Jamison, Washington met Lady Luck and picked up the No. 1 pick in 2010, Wall. Arenas was next to be unloaded (for Rashard Lewis, a similarly bad contract but a more pleasant personality, apparently). That's where the Wizards are now: really young, fairly sparse in terms of owed salary beyond Shard.
Heading into free agency, the Wizards have a cap figure of $40 million with the leaguewide team salary cap set at $58 million and the luxury tax line at $70 million. The salary floor is $49 million, so the Wizards will have to add someone(s), whether in free agency or via trade.
The Wizards' free agents are:
- Nick Young (restricted)
- Hamady N'Diaye (restricted)
- Larry Owens (restricted)
- Othyus Jeffers (restricted)
- Josh Howard
- Maurice Evans
- Yi Jianlian (signed in China)
- Mustafa Shakur
Young is the single Wizards free agent expected to return; while the guard has drawn some interest outside D.C., Washington can match any signed offer sheet. This could get the Wizards most of the way to the payroll floor. Howard and Evans are veterans likely seeking a role on a team closer to the playoffs; the other restricted free agents or back-of-the-rotation guys. Yi's Bird rights could be an asset if the forward returns to the NBA in the future.
The team has insisted it won't waive Lewis under the amnesty clause, even given that his salary would continue to count toward the payroll floor. With that, there's not a whole lot more to look at unless the team looks to bring in a substitute for Andray Blatche, the perennial underachiever. The Wizards could be in play for young bigs despite the presence of Blatche, JaVale McGee, Kevin Seraphin and Trevor Booker. But there aren't many promising young bigs available in free agency, and teams typically avoid trading them.
For more on the Wizards, visit SB Nation's Bullets Forever.