The Wizards have two available spots on their roster but don’t appear to be in any rush to make any additions to the team. They have been relatively quiet since signing A.J. Price to serve as John Wall’s backup next season and Coach Randy Wittman recently intimated that the team might take a measured approach toward completing the roster.
After using the amnesty provision to cut Andray Blatche and signing Price, the Wizards have reached out to several players, including the recently amnestied swingman Josh Childress, forward Anthony Tolliver and shooting guard Jodie Meeks. But there is no urgency to sign someone because they believe that they already have decent depth at every position and might have to wait to find a player willing to accept their minimum salary offer.
Tolliver’s agent, Larry Fox, said recently that his client shares a mutual interest with the Wizards but is “not in the minimum game.”
Tolliver, 27, has attracted interest from Minnesota, Indiana and Cleveland, but Fox felt that Tolliver could address one of the Wizards’ remaining needs.
“You look at Washington’s roster, he’d probably be a decent fit there. They don’t have a guy at the forward position that can step out and shoot the ball and that’s a main part of Anthony’s game,” Fox said.
Tolliver didn’t have the best season shooting last season, but he shot 40.9 percent from beyond the three-point line two years ago, when he averaged 6.7 points and 4.5 rebounds.
“They have kept up a level of constant communication,” Fox said of the Wizards, “but we certainly are talking to other teams at the same time. We’re not in the minimum game, I can assure you that. Honestly, until we get something that’s really worth while, both basketball-wise and money-wise for Anthony, there is no reason to rush at this point.”
Meeks, another backcourt option, is also not looking for a minimum contract after averaging 8.4 points and 2.4 rebounds in Philadelphia last season. Meeks’s agent, David Bauman told the Los Angeles Times that his client will “get more than the minimum wherever he signs.”
James Singleton already declined the Wizards’ offer and further explained his decision by writing in a text message, “I’m not trying to break the bank by any means. I just can’t accept a minimum contract right now… I had the same offer from other NBA teams [that] I haven’t played with before.”
Singleton added that he is considering four offers in China that are more lucrative. He expects to sign for two years, wherever he goes. “I loved playing under Coach Witt and teaming up with the revamped Wizards organization. My short time back there I had a great time. There is no doubt in my mind that I would have had a great year with them, helping them win and grooming the younger guys. But this is my profession and I just felt like some things never change no matter how [much] I improve.”
The new collective bargaining agreement has led NBA teams and players to be cautious because teams are reluctant to spend and players (and their agents) aren’t ready to accept the squeeze of the current economic structure.
Several big name veterans remain unsigned – Leandro Barbosa, Michael Redd, Kenyon Martin, Jermaine O’Neal, Tracy McGrady and Carlos Delfino, Lou Amundson to name a few – and may eventually have to settle for less than what they would’ve received in previous seasons. The more punitive salary cap has teams leery of overspending, especially for those who might wind up on the back end of the bench.
The Wizards are only about $3 million under the cap. But that cap room could also be used to acquire players in trades – either through salary dumps or as facilitators for larger, multi-team transactions.
In the past two seasons, the Wizards have used salary cap space to address roster needs. They were able to get Ronny Turiaf from New York on the first day of training camp last season in a three-team deal that helped the Knicks land Tyson Chandler.
The Wizards currently have Wall, Price and Shelvin Mack at point guard, Bradley Beal and Jordan Crawford at shooting guard, Trevor Ariza and Chris Singleton at small forward, Jan Vesely, Trevor Booker and Nene at power forward, Emeka Okafor and Kevin Seraphin at center, and Cartier Martin capable of playing small forward or shooting guard.
Having Ariza, Singleton and Martin in place probably makes the Wizards’ situation less attractive for a player like Childress after he was seldomly-used in Pheonix. But the Wizards were interested with Childress two years ago and a source close to Childress said they are one of a handful of teams in the mix for his services.
Beal, Singleton and Vesely are currently back in Las Vegas to participate in veteran NBA assistant Tim Grgrurich’s skills camp. The trio helped the Wizards finish 3-2 at NBA summer league in Las Vegas last month. About 60 to 70 players are attending the invite-only camp for mostly rookies and second-year players that will conclude on Thursday.
San Antonio and Miami have both reportedly expressed exploratory interest in Blatche but teams have yet to make a serious pitch to employ the former Wizard, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
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