Morning tip: Close eye on 'max' free agents

Morning tip: Close eye on 'max' free agents
October 28, 2013, 8:45 am
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Wizards like how Gortat will fit into lineup

In analyzing the trade the Wizards made for Marcin Gortat, an ancillary benefit is that they saved money and will be in position to offer a big-name free agent a max contract.

And they still upgraded their roster to make a playoff push this season. 

By not picking up the fourth-year options on the contracts of Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton for 2014-15, which CSN Washington first reported Friday night, that freed up even more.

"We saved a little bit of money. The money is almost even in this trade," said Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld about sending Emeka Okafor ($14.5 million) and a conditional first-round draft pick to the Phoenix Suns for Gortat and three other players ($14 million).

The Wizards have a big picture view in mind for when free agency opens again. Trevor Ariza is in the last year of a deal that pays him $7.7 million. Gortat is making $7.7 million in the final year of his. Al Harrington and Garrett Temple are on one-year deals that total about $1.8 million. And Eric Maynor has a player-option for next year that if he doesn't exercise would clear another $2.1 million. 

"It does give us flexibility moving forward from a salary cap standpoint next summer. If things work the way we hope they will we can keep some of our players," Grunfeld said. "If something becomes available that we want to make a play for we also have the flexibility to do that."

The Wizards will have roughly $16 million available for a max contract offer. 

"That could become available to us if that's the direction we what to go in," Grunfeld said. "We'll  worry about that next summer."

The list is full of marquee names, some well past their primes, some are discussing extensions with their current teams and some have player options to bypass or exercise: LeBron James, Rudy Gay, Tony Parker, Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen, Jamal Crawford, Luol Deng, Danny Granger, Zach Randolph, Dirk Nowitzki, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Greg Monroe, etc. 

Or can you think of anyone better? 

All of it doesn't have to be spent on one player. They could split that $16 million among several players. 

The Wizards have the first part of the equation solved by having the money available. Enticing a veteran free agent would be made easier if they just can make the playoffs for the first time since 2008 and finally convince the NBA that they're on the upswing this season. 

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