The Wizards’ 2016 offseason was a disaster.
Prized hometown player Kevin Durant eliminated them before free agency even began. Washington came close to signing Ryan Anderson, but let him linger to chase Al Horford – who didn’t even include the Wizards in his final two. They also lost Anderson to the Rockets.
Another free agent Washington pursued but missed: Luol Deng.
The Lakers badly overpaid for Deng; Washington had traction with Deng on a three-year deal worth $20 million less overall than L.A. ended up paying, and was stunned to learn of L.A.’s offer, according to several league sources.
Deng signed a four-year, $72 million contract with the Lakers ($18 million annually). So, that would’ve put the Wizards’ offer at three years, $52 million ($17,333,333 annually).
This is the winner’s curse. Usually, free agents sign with the team that offers the most money. So, by definition, that team values him more than any other team with cap space does. In a year where most teams have cap space, the effect is even more pronounced. Sometimes, the signing team is right. But it’s always risky to stray from the crowd.
In this case, the Lakers look wrong about Deng. He’s struggling on the court, and at age 31, he already has major mileage. Paying him over the next four years does not look pretty.
So, the Wizards can celebrate this “miss” – though not too much. After all, their cap room went to the injured Ian Mahinmi and the dreary Andrew Nicholson and Jason Smith.