The Wizards will not be big spenders in free agency, as they don’t have a ton of cap room and it is their hope to spend it on re-signing Davis Bertans. That said, whether they ink Bertans or not, they will have some room to operate via exceptions and minimum contracts.
Here are four options at wing for the Wizards to explore in free agency, starting with the biggest reach and working our way to the more realistic options…
Team: Denver Nuggets
2019-20 stats: 12.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.2 apg, 0.7 spg, 47.8 FG% (4.3/8.9), 38.9 3PT% (1.4/3.5)
2019-20 salary: $9.3M
The Wizards have a variety of needs on defense and Grant is the type of player who could fill several of them. He is one of the most versatile defensive players in basketball with the ability to switch seamlessly. He is the type who can take on the toughest defensive assignment on a nightly basis, especially at the three but he’s also the perfect antidote for stretch fours and small-ball fives.
Grant is from the D.C. area, his brother played for the Wizards last season and his father also played for the organization. And there is some interest from the Wizards’ side, as NBC Sports Washington’s Chris Miller has reported. But Grant is going to be in high demand, especially after the performance he had in the playoffs and it seems likely the Wizards will not be able to afford him with the relatively limited resources they have to spend in free agency. The fit is so good that it’s still worth mentioning, but they would likely need a sizable hometown discount to make it happen.
Team: Miami Heat
2019-20 stats: 10.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.1 spg, 40.1 FG% (3.5/8.7), 34.3 3PT% (2.1/6.1)
2019-20 salary: $7.8M
This would be an interesting pairing as you may recall Crowder was at the center of the brief Wizards-Celtics rivalry back in the 2016-17 season. He clashed with John Wall in particular and would have to share a locker room with him if he joined the Wizards. Crowder, though, would slide in nicely as their starting small forward and in an ideal role for him. They wouldn’t need him to score, just defend and rebound.
Crowder would give the Wizards some toughness and muscle in the midrange and they lack those things. They get pushed around on defense, but there would be no pushing around Crowder, who is one of the strongest built players in the game. The Wizards could also likely afford him by using their mid-level exception. The question would be if he would want to join a team that isn’t a title contender, when he has been so close over the years and just went to the NBA Finals with the Heat. The guy has to be itching for a ring.
Team: New York Knicks
2019-20 stats: 5.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.9 spg, 50.2 FG% (2.3/4.6), 34.7 3PT% (0.5/1.6)
2019-20 salary: $11.5M
The Wizards have plenty of offensive firepower, especially if they re-sign Davis Bertans. Their projected starting lineup has scoring at the one (Wall), two (Bradley Beal), four (Rui Hachimura) and five (Thomas Bryant). Harkless would be an ideal complement as a versatile wing defender who offers solid efficiency in a minor offensive role. Harkless played well alongside Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum for years in Portland and would find a familiar situation in Washington alongside Wall and Beal. Harkless would arguably be the best wing defender those two have played with since Trevor Ariza was here the first time, and that could go a long way towards helping Wall readjust after his injury.
Harkless, though, may be too expensive for their budget. Maybe they could fit him into their MLE, but that would require him taking a pay cut from last season. Perhaps that could happen if the market is suppressed by teams saving money after losing revenue during the pandemic, or by the fact he plays a position that is arguably the deepest in this year’s free-agent class. If they can afford him, he would be a nice addition, there is no doubt.
Team: Indiana Pacers
2019-20 stats: 8.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.3 apg, 1.2 spg, 42.8 FG% (2.8/6.7), 40.5 3PT% (1.8/4.5)
2019-20 salary: $4.8M
Holiday would represent a bargain option for the Wizards at small forward, likely for their bench but with the possibility to start given their lack of proven players at that spot. He’s a decent defender who can force turnovers, last year averaging 1.7 steals and 0.9 blocks per 36 minutes.
Holiday could also present some intriguing upside as an outside shooter. He has shot an unspectacular 36 percent from three for his career, but that number jumped to 40.5 percent last season on 4.5 attempts per game. If that is a sign of more to come, he could give the Wizards another deadly threat from long range. If the Wizards re-sign Bertans, Holiday could give them two elite shooters on the bench, which would be a nice dynamic to have with Ish Smith running the second unit offense.