Washington wanted to make splashes in the 2016 offseason to prove that they were a playoff contender. They finished 41-41 the year prior and missed the playoffs. Now, we all know what the end results were that offseason but what if they were smarter? What if they did things a little differently?
Ian Mahimni or Joakim Noah gets a cheap deal
Let’s talk about this one. Ernie Grunfeld signed Ian Mahimni to a four year $60 million dollar deal on July 2, 2016. The Wizards were tempted to make a move for a big man as they had no reliable alternative to Gortat. JJ Hickson, DeJuan Blair, and Ryan Hollins simply were not cutting it. This led to a massive overpay for a much-needed depth piece.
However, what if Washington played this smart? If they played this smart, they could have signed Mahimni or Joakim to a much cheaper deal later in the offseason. Ian was Washington’s primary target but they were also pursuing Joakim. It is clear to say that Mahimni is the better center but I still wonder what could have happened if they signed Joakim.
If we had to say a fair contract for a backup center, I would say two years $20 million is the most they could have paid. A one-year contract would also be fair but Mahimni was coming off of a career high so that would have led to a multi-year deal. I would say if he got a $5-10 million per year contract, it would be fair.
As for Joakim, he was coming off of a worse year than Mahimni. He averaged 4.3 points along with 8.8 boards and 1 block per game. Noah also only played 29 games so his health was also an issue.
Washington signs Luis Scola instead of Andrew Nicholson
This contract was a failure. Washington brought Andrew Nicholson in on a four year, $26 million dollar deal and got nothing from it. They ended up trading him to Brooklyn along with Marcus Thronton in exchange for Bojan Bogdanović and Chris McCullough. A first-rounder also went to Brooklyn.
If Washington was looking for a power forward that was relatively tall, why not Scola? At the time, Luis Scola had come off of a year in which he averaged 8.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and shot a career-best 40% from three. The Wizards were looking for a power forward that could provide valuable minutes off the bench and Scola was good at that.
Wizards sign Ty Lawson instead of trading for Trey Burke
This was not a terrible move when it happened but it did not end up going well. The Wizards traded their 2021 second round pick to the Jazz for Trey Burke. The former ninth pick in the 2013 draft was brought in to replace Ramon Sessions as the Wizards backup point guard. However, Burke’s subpar play caused him to fall out of the Wizards rotation.
Burke averaged 5 points and 1.8 assists per game, both career lows. Burke’s terrible defense made it worse. Brandon Jennings ended up replacing him later in the season.
Ty Lawson did not find a team until August 31, 2016 so why couldn’t Washington have gone for a him? It could have probably come on a veteran minimum deal for a backup point guard that would have been great next to John Wall. We all know Lawson did eventually sign for the Wizards during the 2018 NBA Playoffs but it was only a brief stint. Lawson’s averages the season before were not great, but the assist number was a lot better than Burke’s. Lawson also provides very similar traits to John so it would have been great to see him for a full year.
Wizards add J.R Smith over Marcus Thornton
The contract was not the problem in this situation, it was the player. Marcus Thornton was signed to a one year deal at the veteran’s minimum. Just like much of the Wizard’s 2016 offseason pickups, Thornton found himself at the end of the bench due to lackluster defense and inconsistent offense.
Thornton was brought in to shoot threes and he was effective, shooting 35%. However, he was later traded to the Brooklyn Nets.
J.R Smith waited a long time before he found a team. Had Washington added him, it would have been a steal. Sure, J.R would have come at an expensive cost but it would be worth it. He would have been a solid backup to Bradley Beal and would have had lots of experience starting before. It would have been almost as if Austin Rivers happened two years earlier and the Wizards would not have had to give up anything.
Overall, what happened as a result of the 2016 offseason?
The Wizards 2016 offseason was ultimately a failure. Many of the new bench players ended up leaving due to subpar play.
The Wizards biggest free agent pickup, Ian Mahinmi, struggled to even stay on the court, battling injury after injury over the course of the season. The poor 2016 offseason signings led the Wizards bench to be one of the worst, if not the worst benches in the entire league.
Had Washington made these four moves, they would have had cap space and they would have had a better bench. Sure, a few players could have been overpaid but in my opinion, this would have worked. It would be a lot better than the current Wizards situation.