Sometime after Thursday's NBA Draft, Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld spoke to the media about the NBA Draft. In the moment, the primary focus centered on Washington's decision to trade away its lone second round pick, though there were additional questions about plans going forward this offseason.
"Our first priority is to get the players we already have on this team and sign them back up," Grunfeld said, referring to the teams numerous free agents, headlined by Marcin Gortat and Trevor Ariza.
In the moment, that sounded like a safe, reasonable response from a decision-maker not wanting to show his cards. What Grunfeld knew but we didn't was that another shoe was set to drop. Washington announced on Friday that small forward Martell Webster underwent back surgery this week and would be out 3-5 months.
The team has been clear about its desires to keep Ariza. However an argument exists that the Wizards would be better off letting him depart since they already have significant assets invested in fellow small forwards Webster and 2013 first round pick Otto Porter.
That argument took something of a hit with news that Webster might not be able to resume basketball-related activities until November. Last season training camp opened in late September and the regular season tipped October 30.
"We like out nucleus and would like to keep our core together," Grunfeld continued. "Obviously you never know what happens in free agency. That will start next week and we have some work ahead of us." As for Ariza and Gortat specifically, I think we'll talk to them when we can and try to work something out. Obviously the market plays a role in it."
The Wizards have five players under contract. That number likely rises to seven when the team exercises options on Andre Miller and Glen Rice Jr. That leaves possibly eight roster spots available. The immediate plan clearly focuses on putting veteran players into those spots.
Grunfeld: "With most rookies, second rounders and sometimes even late first rounders, it takes them 2-3 years to try to get into the rotation, they learn what's going on, learn the system. We felt like maybe we could do a better job of getting someone who is more established with that roster spot."
Free agency begins on July 1. Grunfeld anticipates contacting free agents immediately when the window opens: "I think that's very normal procedure," he said. As for whether the Wizards plan on actively pursuing any high-profile targets in free agency, Grunfeld stated: "We don't know. We'll see how everything is. We'll feel people out and see where we are."
Where they are right now is down a small forward and one of 5-6 players currently under contract for 3-5 months.