The Wizards waived guard Steven Gray and forward Shavlik Randolph on Saturday, reducing their roster to 17. But those were the easy cuts, as Gray only appeared in preseason two games and Randolph saw his playing time reduced significantly after getting hit in the mouth in Toronto last week.
Coach Randy Wittman, President Ernie Grunfeld and their staff will now have to make two more cuts by 5 p.m. Monday to have a 15-man roster for the season opener in Cleveland. The Wizards have 13 players signed to guaranteed contracts, two players signed to non-guaranteed training camp deals in Brian Cook and Earl Barron and two other players on partially-guaranteed deals in Shelvin Mack and Jannero Pargo.
Cook and Mack both finished last season in Washington and have more familiarity with Wittman, his system and the other players on the roster. Pargo is a nine-year veteran with playoff experience, and Barron has been invaluable with the Wizards’ depleted front line and also has a championship ring.
All four have had their flashes throughout the preseason, making the final two slots the toughest to call.
Barron, a 7-foot center, started in place of Emeka Okafor in San Antonio on Friday and had 12 points and 10 rebounds. He averaged 4.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in 15 minutes in seven games.
Cook, who was acquired in a three-team deal with the Los Angeles Clippers last March, averaged 3.9 points and 3.3 rebounds in seven games, helping lead the Wizards to their first preseason win in Cleveland with 14 points. He scored just two points in the next three games, but had five points and five rebounds in a win over Miami.
“I’m just trying to fight for my position, as much as the next man,” Cook said. “I love Washington, I love the city and hopefully, I’ll be able to be here for the rest of the season.”
Pargo signed as a free agent the day before training camp after the Wizards discovered that John Wall would miss the first month of the regular season with a left knee injury. He also missed some time in camp with an abdominal strain. But he still averaged 7.6 points and 3.2 assists in five games, including two starts.
“It’s friendly competition,” Pargo said. “In practice, we compete and go hard at each other. But during the games, it’s all love and all support. I want everybody to do well. A.J., Shelvin, all the guys. I’m the first one to get up and clap for my teammates. It’s competitive. In the end, we’re on the same team.”
Mack, the Wizards’ second-round choice in 2011, struggled in summer league, which led the team to sign A.J. Price and Pargo. He improved on his mistakes and displayed a better command of the team – he had a team-best 3.7-to-1 assist to turnover ratio – but he didn’t score much and shot just 41.2 percent from floor.
“Everything else is up to the coaches and the GMs,” Mack said. “You just play hard and you really can’t have any regrets and you can’t be mad about anything. When you go out and give a half effort, you think, ‘I wish I would’ve done this, I wish I would’ve done that.’ I think I showed them I can run a team.”
Randolph appeared in five games and averaged 2.2 points and 3.0 rebounds. His best performance came in Cleveland, where he grabbed nine rebounds after the Wizards lost Kevin Seraphin to a right calf injury.
Gray scored three points in eight total minutes.