For the first time in franchise history, the Washington Wizards have become a luxury-tax paying team, and on Wednesday, majority owner Ted Leonsis indicated he will continue to spend to keep the core intact.
“I think we’ve proven that we have as much resources and as much tools as anybody in the league and we’re in the tax,” Leonsis said. “We’ll spend whatever we need to get better, but we’re going to get better by keeping our core together and then adding to it.”
By re-signing Otto Porter Jr. to the team’s third maximum contract on roster, Washington has exceeded the 2017-18 NBA salary cap, set at $99.093 million. Leonsis highlighted this fact while recalling other big contracts given to star athletes under the umbrella of his Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which owns and operates the Wizards and the Washington Capitals of the NHL. This financial allegiance could continue if all-NBA point guard John Wall agrees to an extension with the Wizards before the start of the upcoming season.
The team has reportedly offered a four-year, $170 million extension to Wall, known as the “supermax,” that would begin in 2019. Although Wall, who has two more years remaining on his current contract, has yet to commit, Leonsis believes he will eventually sign and stay in Washington for the long term.
“I told everyone that when John was coming off his rookie contract, we would sign him and he would be our bedrock player,” Leonsis said, then referenced Caps players. “I told everyone when Alex Ovechkin and Nick Backstrom” had similar contract extensions.
“I told everybody that we would keep Bradley Beal, and already everyone is talking about the [Wall] extension,” Leonsis continued. “So my prediction is John Wall will sign his extension. He wants to be here, and my goal is to have no drama.”
By matching Porter’s max contract offer from the Brooklyn Nets, the Wizards were greatly limited in spending this offseason. The team added a pair of veterans in Jodie Meeks and Mike Scott on short-term deals and flipped the 52nd draft pick in a trade for Tim Frazier. Still, Leonsis believes this year could work out better than the summer of 2016, when the team had more money and chased several free agents.
“This offseason was much more settled,” Leonsis said, “but I think we’ll be much more successful than last year.”