In signing John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter all to long-term contracts within the last 13 months, the Washington Wizards have secured their future with hopes their continued development as young players will take the team to new heights. That trio will be leading the way for the Wizards for at least the next three seasons and it could be four if Porter does not use his player option for 2020-21. Beal's deal runs through 2020-21 and Wall's doesn't finish until 2022-23.
Not only do the Wizards have those three in place, but they have a substantial amount of money committed. Wall, Beal and Porter are set to earn a combined $98 million in 2020-21. We don't yet know the salary cap for that season, but their long-term payroll makes it interesting to ponder the futures of their other young players like Kelly Oubre, Jr. and Markieff Morris. Could either of them be next in line for a big deal?
Wizards majority owner Ted Leonsis discussed Oubre specifically on Friday after the press conference to announce Wall's four-year supermax extension. Basically, he would love to have Oubre, a 2015 first round pick, force the issue.
"He's another great, high-character kid with great athletic skills. And yeah, he wants to be where these guys are. Our coach really, really likes him. He thinks he can be a difference maker. He kind of has that X-factor in his game," Leonsis said
"So yeah, he's going to come back and work really, really hard and challenge us to pay him a lot of money, too, which I'm glad to do. I think that that is important, that young players realize we would much rather pay them to stay with the organization than think the grass is greener and that some free agent from some other team is going to come in and make a big difference for us."
Leonsis also mentioned how Oubre, 21, "was more injured last season than I think people understood." The Wizards small forward had platelet-rich plasma treatment on his right knee in June after battling discomfort throughout the playoffs. Still, Oubre's second NBA season amounted to a step forward, as he doubled his minutes from the year before under new head coach Scott Brooks.
Oubre is set to make about $2.1 million for the 2017-18 season under his rookie scale contract. The Wizards have to decide in October if they want to pick up his fourth-year option for 2018-19, though at this point there is no reason to think that they won't. Assuming they do, that would set Oubre up for a new deal in the summer of 2019. Washington will then have the option of extending a qualifying offer to retain his rights as a restricted free agent, much like they did this offseason with Porter.
Oubre has a long way to go to earn a max contract like his teammates, but two years is a long time. Just look at Porter, who averaged 6.0 points in 19.4 minutes off the Wizards' bench in 2014-15, his second NBA season. Two years later and he was paid $106.5 million on a max contract. If Oubre follows that track, the Wizards could have another big decision to make two summers from now.