The Washington Wizards have had trouble with their second unit all season long and Wizards fans have been calling for them to provide the bench with some stability through a move. The most notable position that wasn’t producing on the second unit was the third guard off of the bench–in other words, the backup point guard slot.
Eric Maynor was set to provide that stability in the offseason but he largely failed in his stint with the Wizards this season. They’ve had to rely on Garrett Temple–who is really a defensive specialist and a slasher–and Bradley Beal’s improved ball handling to garner mediocre results when initiating the offense while John Wall is off the court.
The Wizards did what they could to remedy that ailment today by dealing for the disgruntled Andre Miller of the Denver Nuggets, according to Yahoo! Sports Adrian Wojnarowski.
According to Wojnarowski, the Wizards sent Jan Vesely to the Denver Nuggets and Eric Maynor to the Philadelphia 76ers along with a 2015 second round draft pick from the New Orleans Pelicans that was acquired in the JaVale McGee trade two years ago. The Nuggets are also sending a second rounder to the 76ers in the deal.
This deal has great value for each side, but focusing on the Wizards in particular, they don’t really lose anything from this deal. They acquire the backup point guard they’ve been coveting for the last month or so and don’t lose much outside of a second round pick that may have had high value.
The Wizards haven’t been the best drafters, though, so losing a high second round pick isn’t really going to be devastating to the franchise’s future. The Wizards have noticeably struggled when John Wall has come off of the court offensively. When Wall comes off the court, the offense is 11.7 points worse per 100 possessions according to 82games.com.
Miller isn’t breaking the doors down offensively, but he’s definitely better than what they have as a ball handler. He’s capable of being a spot-up player and playing in lineups with John Wall. In spot-up situations, Miller has shot 37% from the field but has made eight of 12 three point attempts in those situations according to Synergy Sports technology. Miller scores 1.04 points per possession in spot-up situations, which is a pretty solid mark.
Miller also is excellent in pick and roll situations and isolation spots. He’s capable of beating people off of the dribble with his herky-jerky style of play. If he can play with John Wall–on or off ball–that could alleviate the pressure defenses are giving Wall when he’s the lone ball handler on the floor. We may see lineups featuring Wall, Beal and Miller sharing the floor at the same time. It’ll be crucial to get as much shooting as possible with Wall and Miller on the floor so spacing remains optimal and lanes are created for attack.
As far as the salary cap goes, the Wizards could potentially save $450,000 in cap money. They’ll certainly be saving about $350,00 from the deal this season. The Wizards sent out about $5.35 million between Jan Vesely and Eric Maynor. They’ll bring back $5 million in Andre Miller for this season.
Next season, Miller is owed $4.6 million, but if he’s waived by June 1st that salary will be cut down to just $2 million. Eric Maynor has a player option for $2.1 million next season. There was no guarantee that he would’ve chosen to opt in had he stayed with the Wizards, but it was widely expected that he was going to because of the lack of a market for his services and the possibility for playing at the veteran minimum salary.
The only worry Wizards fans should have is the possibility of Miller’s cap figure taking up space for bringing back Trevor Ariza and Marcin Gortat. It doesn’t seem like the Wizards have a ton of belief in Otto Porter at this point, although it’s still early. They’re definitely looking to bring back Gortat to fill the center position if they can’t find an upgrade, but his salary will probably be upward of $9-10 million. That could leave the Wizards with somewhere close to $5 million to re-sign Ariza if they so choose, but the market for him is going to be higher as well because of the way he’s played this season.
There’s also no guarantee that the Wizards will cut Miller before next season begins. Even though he’s 38, the Wizards may look at Miller as a viable option for the position next season if he can stay healthy.
The most important thing this deal opens up is another roster spot. Even if Miller doesn’t pan out, the Wizards can now go out and search on the free market for another player to contribute in some way. If they had previous interest in Rodrigue Beaubois then they can explore that now because of the roster spot that was opened up. It gives them some small cap relief this season and they can sign someone to a short-term contract if they so choose.
Overall, this trade could provide some positive results for the Wiz in the short term, but long term it could pose potential problems. Retaining Ariza and Gortat could become troublesome, but it probably would’ve been anyway. The Wizards now have a roster spot open and they can transform what was an eight man rotation into a nine or 10 man rotation. They’ll be able to use this to their advantage and chase a homecourt spot in the postseason.