Wizards to decline options on Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton


It’s going to end like this? (Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)

The Wizards have decided to decline the fourth-year options for forwards Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton, according to people with knowledge of the situation.

Vesely and Singleton, the Wizards’ first-round picks in 2011, will now both be unrestricted free agents following this season. Washington has until Thursday to make those decisions official.

First-round picks have their first two seasons fully guaranteed with the team holding options for the third and fourth seasons. The Wizards rarely wait until the deadline and picked up the third-year options for both players on Oct. 19 last season.

As expected, the team will exercise the third-year option on Bradley Beal, according a person familiar with the Wizards’ plans.

With the moves, the Wizards will have more than $15 million in salary cap room to potentially sign a maximum-salaried free agent.

Vesely, the sixth overall pick, has had a disappointing stint in Washington, posting career averages of 3.6 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. His option for the 2014-15 season was worth $4.2 million. He entered training camp with decent odds of securing a spot beyond this season after a decent showing at summer league in Las Vegas and an even better performance at the European championships in Slovenia.

Coach Randy Wittman gave Vesely the starting nod alongside Nene in the first two preseason games but the 7-foot big man from the Czech Republic continued to slide deeper into the rotation and only received garbage time minutes in the preseason finale. He averaged 2.7 points and 6.1 rebounds in the seven games.

Singleton has been sidelined since late September with a fracture in his left foot and was unable to make a final impression on the team this month. Like Vesely, Singleton regressed in his second season and fell in and out of Wittman’s rotation. He started 57 games as a rookie but tallied just 4.4 points and 3.4 rebounds in two seasons. The Wizards would’ve had to pay him $2.5 million to keep him beyond this season.

The moves don’t mean that the Wizards won’t bring either player back. Washington could sign one or both at lower salaries next summer. It still has Bird rights for Vesely and Singleton. But if Vesely and/or Singleton have decent seasons, they could get more lucrative long-term deals elsewhere.

If both don’t return next season, the Wizards would have nothing to show for the 2011 draft after cutting second-round pick Shelvin Mack before the last season.

Michael Lee is the national basketball writer for The Washington Post.

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Michael Lee · October 26, 2013

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