In just a few days, NBA Free Agency is set to kick off. While the Washington Wizards are a bit tied up in terms of what they’ll be able to offer free agents for the coming years, they can capitalize, perhaps, by adding a young wing who has starting and playoff experience – Stanley Johnson.
Johnson was selected eighth overall in the 2015 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons. Reports indicate he either wanted to go to Detroit or Miami, who had the tenth pick. Nevertheless, Johnson was selected by Motor City and was expected to produce right away.
On February 6th, Johnson was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans in a three-team deal with Milwaukee. After the trade, he did not get much time in New Orleans, only averaging a little over 13 minutes per game. Thus, the Pelicans decided not to extend him a qualifying offer for the 2019-20 season, meaning he’ll be an unrestricted free agent.
Sources: The Pelicans have declined to extend a qualifying offer to forward Stanley Johnson, making him an unrestricted free agent. Johnson, 23, is a strong defender and will receive interest from several teams. Allows Pelicans to now have upwards of $28M in open space.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 27, 2019
Many will remember Johnson from his remarks during his rookie campaign. They were the eighth seed in the conference going up against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs:
“I’m definitely in his head, that’s for sure, that’s for sure.”
“I could care less if I’m in his head or in his mind or anything like that,” Johnson said. “I’m just trying to play basketball. It’s up to him how he wants to react to whatever he does. I think I’m in a good place. He had a great night. He’s had a couple great nights. He made a couple tough-ass shots. He hit two 3’s, which is not, like, his norm. He hit a tough-ass turnaround on me, and he played really physical. I battled physical. He didn’t get any paint touches. He made a bunch of tough shots. So he’s going to have to go 40 minutes and make those same tough shots every game for them to do what they did tonight.”
Where do the Wizards come in? Glad you asked! Since he is most likely viewed as a wash amongst NBA front offices and is an unrestricted free agent, Johnson is free to negotiate with whomever he chooses and there is nothing holding him back.
The Wizards currently do not have a penciled in starting small forward. Many believe that Troy Brown is slated to fill that position, which may end up being the case, but why not take a chance on Johnson? He won’t be very expensive and he fits a 3-&-D mold the Wiz have been looking for.
Johnson could become a valuable role player, much like OG Anunoby from the Toronto Raptors: play defense, make set shots from behind the arch, play hard. This is the type of player the Wizards should be looking for. They won’t be able to find a lot of veterans willing to take a pay-cut and need to find some young talent that could potentially be developed.
Stanley Johnson fits the bill perfectly for what the Wizards should be looking for. Why not give him a shot?