By Shaun Ahmad
The time for reaching out to free agents has finally arrived; albeit months late thanks to the NBA lockout. Nevertheless, the window for franchises to try and better themselves by adding missing pieces to their roster is open. That means lots of rumors, lots of hope, and probably some questionable contracts given out by desperate teams.
The Washington Wizards have made a commitment under owner Ted Leonsis to do whatever is necessary to become competitive. Free agency is no exception. With that said, the Wizards find themselves holding a big bag of cash staring at a very thin free agent class.
Make no mistake about it, this is not the free agent class of 2010 with names like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, nor is it the class of 2012 with names like Dwight Howard and Chris Paul. 2011 showcases Tyson Chandler, Nene, Marc Gasol and David West, to name a few.
That is not to say that the aforementioned wouldn't be welcome additions to any team. After all, each were part of an organization that made the playoffs last year with Chandler winning an NBA championship. The Wizards' locker room could certainly use some players with a history of winning.
However, first thing is first and Washington seems keen on working out a deal with guard Nick Young.
Will they make a play for another big body inside like Nene or Gasol? It's not likely given that both will require upwards of four years and close to 40 million. Remember, just because Washington can afford it doesn't mean they need to spend it.
Instead, the Wizards should look to add young contributors who fit their scheme and improve areas of weakness. For example, Arron Afflalo of the Denver Nuggets is a restricted free agent. He's 25, entering his fifth season, and has shown marked improvement in each of his four years in the league. Last year, he averaged 12.6 points per game on nearly 50 shooting. More importantly, he is known for playing stellar perimeter defense something Washington desperately lacks. A piece like him would work well in the puzzle Washington is trying to complete centered around star John Wall.
Kris Humphries is also available. (Insert your Kardashian joke here). He averaged 10 points and 10 rebounds last year in less than 30 minutes of play per game. Washington could certainly use another banger inside and Humphries might be a very economical choice.
The theme for the Wizards this free agency season should be to maximize the value of each dollar spent not to dish out big contracts to the big names.