WASHINGTON — The Wizards stayed relatively quiet throughout the free agency explosion of July 1, making no waves with the exception of the expected move to give Bradley Beal a max contract.
Late Friday night, however, reports emerged that Washington was one of several teams to meet with Al Horford, one of the top players in free agency and perhaps the best remaining viable option.
A slew of teams have interest in Horford, of course. He’s 6-foot-10 and has a reliable outside shot, and he’s coming off back-to-back seasons of nearly identical numbers: 15 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists per game.
He just turned 30, so teams would prefer giving him a shorter deal, but he realizes he has all the leverage in these discussions and is using that to squeeze out a fifth year in prospective deals.
While unlikely, due to their signing of Dwight Howard, it remains possible that the Atlanta Hawks could re-sign Horford. They can offer him a coveted fifth year, but they are reportedly reluctant to pony up the money needed to retain him.
Signing Horford would instantly improve the Wizards’ roster, but it remains to be seen how all the players would fit together. Their starting big men situation was believed to be settled at Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat, but one of those two would have to be traded at a time of unusually low value or relegated to the bench.
Morris or Gortat coming off the bench would immediately provide a boost to the second unit, which struggled greatly last season, but it is unclear if either player would happily accept the perceived demotion.
However, with free agents flying off the board, Washington needs to make a move eventually. Horford would be a splash signing, and it would likely be enough to extend GM Ernie Grunfeld’s reign in Washington.