4 bigs the Wizards could target in 2020 NBA free agency originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The Wizards will not be big spenders in free agency, as they don't have a ton of cap room and it is their hope to spend it on re-signing Davis Bertans. That said, whether they ink Bertans or not, they will have some room to operate via exceptions and minimum contracts.
Here are four options at power forward and center for the Wizards to explore in free agency, starting with the biggest reach and working our way to the more realistic options...
Team: Cleveland Cavaliers
2019-20 stats: 12.0 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 2.1 apg, 0.9 bpg, 51.2 FG% (5.1/9.9), 39.1 3PT% (0.2/0.4)
2019-20 salary: $18.5M
The Wizards showed interest in Thompson at the trade deadline and after not landing him, a front office source remarked how they could circle back in free agency. Given how well Thompson would fit what the Wizards need, it makes sense why. He's not a perfect player, but he sets good screens and is one of the best rebounders in the league. The Wizards have desperately needed help in both areas since Marcin Gortat left. Thompson could fill a similar role, doing the dirty work to make John Wall and Bradley Beal's lives easier.
The question is whether Washington can afford him. Thompson won't interest a ton of teams due to the fact he can't stretch the floor, but the Wizards would have to see his price drop low enough to fit into their mid-level exception which will be about $9.3 million annually. That would require Thompson to take about a 50 percent pay cut. Given he's only 29, there is no guarantee that happens. Also, he would be an upgrade as a rim protector, but not a major difference-maker in that regard. The Wizards would still have some problems defensively.
Team: Oklahoma City Thunder
2019-20 stats: 7.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 0.9 apg, 1.5 bpg, 68.4 FG% (3.0/4.4), 33.3 3PT% (0.0/0.0)
2019-20 salary: $2M
The Wizards have been linked to Noel in the past and he would make more sense now than ever. He's one of the best turnover generators in the league with the length and instincts to disrupt passing lanes and protect the rim. He averaged 1.5 blocks and a steal per game last season for the Thunder, who used him perfectly as a defensive specialist. If he came to Washington, he could fit very well as a four alongside both Thomas Bryant and Moe Wagner, both of which can shoot.
Noel is used to coming off the bench, so Rui Hachimura could start at power forward. Noel would give the Wizards a defensive punch off the bench which would be helpful in a lineup that they hope has Bertans, an offensive-minded forward. Though he's not a volume rebounder, he would also assist in that area, where the Wizards desperately need help, as he's averaged 10.1 rebounds per 36 minutes in his career. And at 26 years old, Noel could help the Wizards' cause in getting younger and more athletic.
Team: Denver Nuggets
2019-20 stats: 11.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.6 apg, 0.6 bpg, 48.2 FG% (4.1/8.6), 43.5 3PT% (1.1/2.4)
2019-20 salary: $30.5M
The Wizards are expected to get a price check on Millsap, according to someone familiar with their plans. And if it comes down to a debate behind the scenes, he will have one big fan in head coach Scott Brooks, who has raved about Millsap's game many times over the years. Millsap may not be the All-Star he once was, but he's still good and likely wouldn't cost much, given he turns 36 in February.
Last year in Denver, Millsap had the most efficient season if his career, posting a 54.3 effective field goal percentage while shooting a career-best 43.5 percent from three. Millsap could come in and back up Hachimura at the four, while teaching him a few tricks along the way battling him in practice. The questions are whether Millsap's price would fall in the Wizards' range and also whether he wants to instead join one of the league's top contenders, or even stay with the Nuggets. Millsap is so versatile he could fit with any team, including some of the very best in the NBA.
Team: Milwaukee Bucks
2019-20 stats: 5.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.7 bpg, 49.2 FG% (2.2/4.5), 33.3 3PT% (0.5/1.6)
2019-20 salary: $4.8M
Lopez opted out of his contract with the Bucks to enter free agency, likely to look for more money. Even if he gets a raise, the Wizards should be able to afford him if he's interested. He would certainly help their cause as a defensive anchor in their second unit, though he wouldn't make a major difference. He would take Ian Mahimmi's place and likely produce much more given his consistent track record.
Lopez is a solid rebounder and rim protector, albeit in small sample sizes. If the Wizards signed him as their free-agent big, it would represent a cheap, short-term fix. And if that's all they came up with this offseason, it would be a fairly surprising direction to go given their most glaring issues.