Jabari Parker

Newly minted Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard quickly faces Bradley Beal questions

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While ownership danced with Tim Connley in Denver and Masai Ujiri in Toronto, Tommy Sheppard spent the past few months trying to clean up a mess of a Washington Wizards roster and, more importantly, their messed up salary cap situation.

There was only so much Sheppard could do considering John Wall‘s supermax extension kicks in next season (and runs four seasons) and the team will pay Ian Mahinmi $15.5 million. However, Sheppard got Washington below the tax number by trading Dwight Howard and letting three players — Tomas Satoransky, Bobby Portis, and Jabari Parker — just walk. He then tried to add inexpensive and interesting talent to the roster, such as Rui Hachimura, Davis Bertans, and Moritz Wagner. It was all those moves that ultimately got the “interim” tag taken off his GM job title, reports Chase Hughes at NBC Sports Washington.

How Sheppard navigated the Wizards through the draft and free agency was central in why managing partner Ted Leonsis decided to elevate him to the long-term post. The last several weeks were treated as a “trial run,” according to a person familiar with the process.

However, the biggest test comes next Friday, and how Sheppard and Wizards ownership handle it will define the course of the franchise for years.

On July 26 (Friday), the Wizards can — and by all indications will — offer Bradley Beal a three-year, $111 million contract extension.

Beal likely turns it down.

That’s the growing sense around the league. While part of his motivation may be questions about the future direction in Washington, there are also cold financial reasons to say no — Beal makes more money if he waits. Maybe even to the point of becoming a free agent in 2021. Our own Dan Feldman broke it down this way (future estimates based on salary cap projections by the NBA):

• Sign this 2019 extension: $111.8 over three years ($35.1 million per year)
• Make All-NBA next season and sign a super-max extension in 2020: $250 million over five years ($50 million per year)
• Become a free agent and re-sign with Wizards on regular-max in 2021: $214 million over five years ($43 million per year)
• Become a free agent and re-sign with Wizards on super-max in 2021: $250 million over five years ($50 million per year)
• Leave Wizards in 2021: $159 million over four years ($40 million per year)

Beal can afford to bet on himself and wait, he just turned 26 and has not had the kind of injury issues that would make him think he needs to take the security now (he has played 82 games each of the last two seasons).

How do Sheppard — and Wizards’ management — react when Beal says no is the question. That is the real test Sheppard faces.

Part of that reaction will be based on what Beal and his representatives say: Do they turn down the offer and say Beal wants to be traded?

Or, do they turn down the offer and say, “Beal wants to stay but will wait because he wants a super-max contract?” (Beal finished seventh in All-NBA guard voting, with the top six making the All-NBA, he is right on the cusp.) This may be the most likely option, Beal cannot get the super-max contract if traded.

If/when Beal turns the Wizards down, Sheppard’s phone will start ringing again with teams testing the trade market waters for Beal. There is tremendous interest in him from across the league.

How Sheppard handles those calls will start to set the tone for what is next in Washington. What the Wizards do with Beal — and John Wall, out for the season with a torn Achilles and already on his super-max — will define Wizards’ basketball for years to come.

Report: Hawks reach deal with Jabari Parker for two years, $13 million

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Atlanta has John Collins starting at the four and soaking up the majority of minutes there. At the three they have talented young rookies lined up — De'Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish — but coach Lloyd Pierce would like a little depth and a guy he can count on just getting them some buckets.

Jabari Parker has agreed to a deal with the Atlanta Hawks to try to fill those roles. Shams Charania of The Athletic broke the news.

This is a good spot for Parker. He’s going to get minutes on an up-and-coming team, and if he exceeds expectations he can hit the market again next summer in what will be a weaker free agent class.

Parker can put the ball in the hole, he averaged 14.5 points and 6.6 rebounds a game last season splitting time between Chicago and Washington. He’s a very efficient scorer around the rim, but his three-point shot fell off last season (31.3 percent). The former No. 2 pick will never live up to that hype, the two ACL surgeries took their toll. Also, he is a serious defensive liability.

But the Hawks got a scorer off the bench who can fill a role for them, and did so at a fair price. This is a nice signing for both sides.

Top 10 free agents still available

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This list could change very fast. Whenever Kawhi Leonard makes up his mind — today, tomorrow, next week — his choice will be the first domino in a run of signings. The Los Angeles teams have sat on cap space to fit Leonard onto their team, and once the call is made one or both of them could suddenly go on a little spending spree. Dallas is still lurking with money to spend, too.

However, there isn’t a lot for those teams to shop for — there were 50 players signed in the first 10 hours of NBA free agency starting June 30 and it became a feeding frenzy. Teams saw players they wanted get snapped up and felt they had to get the next guy on their list fast before he was gone, agents saw roster spots filling up fast and wanted to make sure their player had a chair before the music stopped. There was far more “you have 45 minutes to decide” sales pitches this year than in years past. A lot of good players are off the board.

As of right now, here are our top 10 free agents still available.

1) Kawhi Leonard

Duh. While LeBron James last year and Kevin Durant this year (along with Kyrie Irving) made quick decisions in free agency, Leonard is going old school, not rushing, meeting with teams and thinking over his decision. As is his right. This is a major life decision about where to work (and with whom) — stay in Toronto where he just won a title, or come back home to Southern California and play for Doc Rivers and the Clippers, or with LeBron James and the Lakers. Leonard, when on the court, may be the best player walking the face of the earth right now and he averaged 30.5 points and 9.1 rebounds a game during the Raptors run to the title. He is worth the wait.

2) DeMarcus Cousins

He’s the biggest name on this list, and with raw talent may be the second-best player on this list, but in terms of demand by teams this ranking may be a couple of spots too high. Cousins averaged 16.3 points per game on 48 percent shooting and grabbed 8.1 rebounds a game last season, but he only was in 30 games coming off a torn Achilles and then tore his quad muscle two games into the playoffs. All season he did not move terribly well and could be exposed defensively in space. As the NBA evolves away from traditional centers, teams look at Cousins and aren’t seeing a player they want to pay eight figures because they can get 80 percent of his production for 20 percent of the cost. Plus, some teams don’t want the potential locker room disruption (whether that is fair or not, it’s his rep). Cousins is waiting to jump into the cap space Leonard leaves open on at least one of the Los Angeles teams, but we’ll see if he has to settle for the $4.8 million room exception or maybe even the veteran minimum.

3) Marcus Morris

A solid veteran at the four who can stretch the floor (37.5 percent from three last season), Morris also brings grit and a toughness a lot of teams could use. He is one of the best scorers left on the board and can get buckets in a variety of ways — post-ups, from three, the occasional isolation — and did so to the tune of 13.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game last season in Boston. Plus he can solidly defend the four spot. Dallas is among the teams reportedly making a run at this Morris twin.

4) Danny Green

He may have lost a step at age 32, but his value as a 3&D wing who will step up and make plays in big minutes was on display in the NBA Finals. He averaged 10.3 points per game and shot 45.5 percent from three in the regular season (but that fell to 32.8 percent in the playoffs). He is one of the players waiting on Leonard and could end up playing for the $4.8 million room exception wherever Leonard goes, but he also could go his own way. The Raptors, Clippers, Lakers, and Mavericks are all interested.

5) Kelly Oubre

He’s a restricted free agent, meaning the Suns can match any offer, which has dampened his market because no team has wanted to come in with the big contract it would take to get the Suns to walk away. Oubre is incredibly athletic but has never quite lived up to his potential. Traded mid-season to the Suns, the slashing wing averaged 16.9 points a game for them, but he still shot just 32.5 percent from three. With Ricky Rubio at the point Oubre could fit on the wing in Phoenix, the only question now is the price.

6) JaMychal Green

If he can stay healthy (he played 65 games last season between the Grizzlies and Clippers), Green is an underappreciated 6’9″ modern stretch four who can help teams because he plays with high energy and can defend multiple positions. Last season he averaged 9.4 points per game, shot 40 percent from three, and added 6.3 rebounds a night. In Memphis his role kept changing, he didn’t complain and just tried to make plays. He could fit on a lot of teams.

7) Jabari Parker

Looking for a player who can just get buckets? Parker is the guy. The former No. 2 pick (who had multiple ACL surgeries) averaged 14.5 points and 6.6 rebounds a game last season, he gets most of his points around the rim, where he is very efficient. He struggles defensively but is a solid scoring role player off the bench.

8) Rajon Rondo

The veteran, high IQ point guard averaged 9.2 points and 8 assists per game last season with the Lakers. While his defense isn’t near what it used to be (particularly on ball), he is still a solid rotation point guard at the NBA level who has championship experience.

9) Delon Wright

A restricted free agent, meaning the Grizzlies can match any offer. A combo guard but one without a three-point shot. Still, in 26 games at the end of last season with Memphis, where the ball was in his hands more, he averaged 12.2 points per game. He’s got good size and can defend well, too. He would fit on a few teams as a backup point guard who can play some at the two as well.

10) Jeremy Lin

Lin earned a ring last season when picked up by the Raptors after he was waived by the Hawks (who were in Trae Young mode). He averaged 9.6 points and 3.1 assists per game overall last season, and while he fell out of the Raptors playoff rotation he is a solid backup point guard who knows how to run a team, can get to the rim, can hit the three enough you have to respect it, and is a better defender now than his reputation. He could provide good point guard depth to a lot of teams.

HONORABLE MENTION: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee, Avery Bradley, Kenneth Faried, Ivica Zubac. (For some teams guys on this part of the list are much better fits than Wright or Lin).)

Report: Wizards apply for disabled-player exception for John Wall, indicating he’ll miss full season

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Last February, the Wizards announced John Wall would miss another 12-plus months after rupturing his Achilles. Wall said he isn’t sure whether he’ll miss next season entirely.

Now, comes another sign he’ll miss the whole season.

Sam Vecenie of The Athletic:

Washington would receive the exception only if an NBA-appointed doctor rules Wall is “substantially more likely than not” to be out through June 15. The application doesn’t necessarily mean the Wizards believe that to be the case. It doesn’t hurt to try. But it’s also quite possible they believe he’ll be out so long.

I doubt Wall will play next season. He’s certain to miss a large portion of the year. Washington will likely stink, and it’s tough to see him returning late in a lost-cause season.

But “substantially more likely than not” to be out through June 15 is a much higher bar. That said, the league is often lenient granting disabled-player exceptions.

The Wizards could use one. They’d get a $9,258,000 exception that could used to sign a player to a one-year contract or trade for someone on the final year of his contract.

Presently, the Wizards have limited means of adding talent. They used most of the mid-level exception on Ish Smith. They have Bird Rights on Jabari Parker and Sam Dekker. Otherwise, they’re limited to the rest of the mid-level exception (about $3.4 million) and the $3,623,000 bi-annual exception.

Report: Wizards to decline $20 million option for Jabari Parker, hope to strike new deal

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When the Bulls’ brain trust of Gar Forman and John Paxson gave Chicago native Jabari Parker a two-year, $40 million contract, the rest of the NBA shook its head in disbelief. This was a player struggling to find how his game fits in the NBA, and he was coming off two ACL tears in the same knee, but Chicago made him the team’s highest-paid player.

Not surprisingly, by the middle of the year they were looking to trade Parker, who had fallen out of the rotation.  Chicago lucked into a good trade with the Wizards, who wanted to get rid of Otto Porter‘s contract. Parker played well for the Wizards in 25 games — 15 points and 7.2 rebounds in more than 27 minutes a night, with a PER of 17.

But not “we want to pay him $20 million next season” well, especially after the team drafted Rui Hachimura in the first round. The Wizards are not picking up Parkers’ $20 million option, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, but they do want to re-sign him to a new contract.

The Washington Wizards will decline the 2019-20 team option on Jabari Parker’s contract, and the forward will become an unrestricted free agent on June 30, league sources told Yahoo Sports…

The Wizards are very much open to re-signing Parker and the interest is mutual, sources said.

Both sides would like to work out a new contract, reports Chase Hughes at NBC Sports Washington. The question is the number.

There is some motivation on both sides. The Wizards like Parker’s athleticism and scoring ability and believe he has underrated upside. And Parker genuinely enjoys playing in Washington.

Continuing their partnership, though, may not be cheap. Parker’s asking price is expected to start around $15 million annually, NBC Sports Washington has learned, and that number could go up or down.

That $15 million number seems a little steep from where I’m sitting, but if Parker can get that after a solid end to the season more power to him. Expect him to be back in Washington, there isn’t much of a market for him around the league, not at that number.