Wizards enter offseason with ‘clean contracts’ and confusing salary cap situation

WASHINGTON — As the Washington Wizards enter another important offseason, their salary cap is once again a maze. Not a mess, a maze; as in, it’s confusing. That’s the nature of the NBA salary cap. It’s never easy to describe. To fully understand it, you need a master’s degree in calculus and an understanding of the TI-83 black belt.

Basically, the gist of their cap situation is this: they won’t have the salary margin to be the main brokers in free agency, but can add players through exceptions and also have some flexibility with negotiable contracts. Here’s how Wizards president Tommy Sheppard described it:

“The Wizards have had cap space, what, twice in 20 years. It’s not cap space. We’ve always been able to keep our free agents. You look at some of the high-level free agents that Washington had more than We kept the ones we wanted to keep, certainly. I think it’s very important to be able to be agile in terms of contracts. I like the fact that we have very clean contracts, “he said. -he declares.

The Wizards hope to keep that streak of keeping the players they want to keep this summer with star goaltender Bradley Beal due to extend his contract. He can opt out of the final year of his current deal, worth $36.6 million for 2022-23, and sign a new deal that could approach $245 million over five years.

The Wizards actually have a group of players eligible for the extension, including Kristaps Porzingis, Kyle Kuzma, Rui Hachimura and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks pointed out a few weeks ago. Beal, however, is the one deal that seems most likely to happen at this point, given the signals he himself has been sending.

If Beal signs a new contract, it could start with a salary of around $42.5 million next year, which would further squeeze the wizarding books. They would still have the $10.3 million mid-level exception and the $4.1 million semi-annual exception to work with. Sorcerers could use these resources to get help from the gamemaster and wherever they see fit, though that doesn’t put them in the range of the most expensive options available.

As for what Sheppard said about the Wizards “not being a cap space”, not only has that been the case for years, but they also struggled to attract free agents when they had money to spend. The most famous case was 2016 when they had enough room to offer a max contract and after sniffing out several big names (Kevin Durant and Al Horford) they ended up spending that money on a collection of role players.

As for his “clean contracts” point, that’s likely a reference to the fact that they don’t have anyone rehabilitating a significant injury or being a particularly bad deal based on their production. Although Sheppard has navigated a few of these types of contracts in the past, they don’t really have any at the moment.

Sheppard added additional context on the current dynamics of the Wizards’ salary cap from a macro perspective. He has to look at the team cap as a whole and says the front office often plays with three- to four-year windows in mind.

He bragged about what the team did at the trade deadline in February, when they sent two long-term contracts that didn’t work out for them to Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans. The Wizards picked up Porzingis who is signed through 2023-24 with the final year a player option.

“This year we were able to create a timeline where we actually saved money and we acquired a capital project. We think we acquired a fantastic solution to Porzingis at both ends of the field. I think we are well placed,” Sheppard mentioned.

The Wizards’ salary cap situation indicates that the trade market is their likeliest avenue to make substantial additions this offseason. The Wizards could either trade for another team’s player under contract or reach a sign-and-trade deal with a free agent, as they did last offseason to acquire Dinwiddie.

Again, it’s a bit complicated. But it’s also a familiar situation for Sheppard and wizards, and one they feel they can work with.