Tommy Sheppard, the Wizards‘ vice president of basketball administration, was standing outside the team’s practice court on Friday, waiting to stop John Wall, Trevor Booker, Kevin Seraphin, Jordan Crawford, Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton before they went to the locker room.
One by one, Sheppard pulled players aside to the lounge to share with them the news that the Wizards planned to keep them under contract for at least one more season after this one. Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld also spoke to each player.
The Wizards exercised the contract options of all six of the first-round draft picks they obtained in the first two years since beginning their rebuilding efforts. Wall, Booker, Seraphin and Crawford were extended for the fourth season, while Singleton and Vesely had their third-year options picked up.
The sextet is now signed through 2013-14.
“We have been able to bring in and develop this core group of talented, mature young players over the last several years, and we’re pleased to have them all signed through next season,” Grunfeld said a statement released by the team. “Combining them with the veterans we’ve added gives us a solid foundation that can be competitive now while allowing us to continue to build towards future success.”
Wall, the No. 1 pick of the 2010 draft, and Vesely and Singleton, the sixth pick and 18th pick, respectively, of the 2011 draft, were all chosen directly by the Wizards. Booker and Seraphin were acquired on draft-day trades in 2010 with Minnesota and Chicago, respectively, and Crawford arrived from Atlanta – and before that, New Jersey – in a deal involving Kirk Hinrich.
The six players comprise the core of the youth movement that was initiated after owner Ted Leonsis took over in June 2010. Wall, Booker, Seraphin and Crawford will all be eligible for contract extensions next summer but would otherwise become restricted free agents in the summer of 2014. Vesely and Singleton wouldn’t become restricted free agents until 2015 if the Wizards pick up their fourth-year options.
Most of the players greeted the news with smiles or nonchalance but Vesely wrote on his Twitter account, @JanVesely24, “Good news!!!”
Only the first two years are guaranteed for first-round picks and teams have one-year options for each of the next two years. Leonsis has repeatedly stated his desire for the Wizards to draft and develop their own talent.
“For me, the first thing we have to do is make sure our core – we know who is central to the team – and that we retain our players,” Leonsis said two weeks ago during training camp at George Mason University. “I think that is vital, that we can draft and develop and retain.”
Shelvin Mack, a second-round pick in 2011, is on a partially guaranteed contract this season.