LAS VEGAS -- Signing future Hall of Fame small forward Paul Pierce essentially as Trevor Ariza's replacement serves a big move for the Wizards.
What comes next for Washington involves adding big men behind Nene and Marcin Gortat.
An examination of the Wizards current roster shows a team thick on the wings, set with two point guards and the two interior options. Including Pierce, Washington has agreed to terms with nine players, leaving six slots available. The team may lean toward opening the regular season with 14 players, keeping the 15th spot open for flexibility purposes.
What’s currently missing are backups for Nene, a constant injury risk, and Gortat, the lone two-way center on the roster.
Power forward: Nene
Small forward: Paul Pierce
Center: Marcin Gortat
Wing guard: Bradley Beal
Point guard: John Wall
Wings: Otto Porter, Glen Rice Jr., Martell Webster
Guards: Andre Miller
If we include center Kevin Seraphin’s $3.9 million qualifying offer, the Wizards have approximately $57.9 million on the books for next season. Teams can exceed the $63.1 million cap by re-signing their own free agents.
Seraphin provides size and occasional offense, but hasn’t shown he can step in as a starter if needed. Forward Drew Gooden, the closest thing to a stretch-4 among the known frontcourt options, and guard Garrett Temple are likely back on veteran minimum contracts. The odds are steeper regarding returns for forwards Chris Singleton and Al Harrington, though not inconceivable.
The most interesting case involves Trevor Booker. Washington declined to offer the energy forward a qualifying offer when the number jumped to $4.7 million. After using the mid-level exception on Pierce, the Wizards best hope for a quality Nene backup may return them to Booker.
The bigger concern involves the lack of a rim protector besides Gortat. Shot blocker Khem Birch, a member of the Wizards’ summer league team, could be a viable long-term fit. He’s also an undrafted rookie who obviously lacks experience.