The Wizards have tried to stay competitive for years but have not had the pieces to be a contender. Bradley Beal has been the focal point of these teams on the edge of the playoff picture. Washington finished the 2022-23 season in 12th place in the Eastern Conference at 35-47.
Washington has two big impending free agents in Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle Kuzma. Porzingis and Kuzma have player options, but both are expected to decline them and hit the free agency market. Bringing them back with Beal would give the Wizards three high-paid players with little depth around them. Another question is whether the the new front office will explore a Beal trade or not. The previous front office committed to Beal and did not want to trade him.
The team cannot fall into the trap of signing veteran role players past their prime. Whether they decide to try and build a playoff-caliber team or launch a rebuild, the rotation can't rely on role players at the tail end of their career.
In the 2021-22 season, the Los Angeles Lakers fell into this trap. They built their roster with a ton of veterans on minimum contracts surrounding LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook. While that team had plenty of problems, depth and production from their rotation were a big part of it. The team was deemed to be a “playoff-type team” because of their veteran experience.
As everyone who follows the Purple and Gold knows, that team never saw the playoffs, with the veterans struggling throughout the regular season.
This free agency will be an indicator of what direction the front office will take. With that said, here are two free agents that the Wizards must avoid in the 2023 NBA free agency.
2. Jae Crowder
The Wizards can't make the same mistake as the Lakers, which is why they shouldn't go after a forward like Jae Crowder. While Crowder can still contribute as a role player, Washington needs to focus on adding young depth or consistent role players.
This season, Crowder sat out with the Phoenix Suns until they moved him at the trade deadline, where he eventually landed with the Milwaukee Bucks. Across 18 games, Crowder averaged 6.9 points and 3.8 rebounds while shooting 47.9 percent from the field and 43.6 percent from three.
The 32-year-old was inconsistent in the Bucks' first-round series against the Heat, where Miami upset the number-one seed Bucks in five games. He received DNPs in the series as well.
Crowder would be a much better fit for a contender that needs a minimum role player rather than the Wizards.
1. Russell Westbrook
Is Russell Westbrook a former MVP and future Hall of Famer? Yes. Did he play well in his previous tenure with the Wizards? Yes. Should Washington bring him back? No.
Westbrook is no stranger to scrutiny. He has faced a ton of that over the past two seasons after a failed experiment with the Lakers. At the trade deadline, Westbrook was traded, then bought out and then signed with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Westbrook rejuvenated his season with the Clippers, playing exceptionally well in the playoffs. While Westbrook proved he is still a good player, Washington should not bring him back. Russ played well with the team during his time there, but the result was a first-round exit.
The Wizards should not settle for a team good enough to sneak into the playoffs and get eliminated. They either need to make big changes to become a contender or rebuild.
The new front office will have some difficult decisions to make this offseason. The direction of the franchise could be determined by what moves they do.