Wizards cut Brian Cook and Shelvin Mack, get roster down to 15


Wizards center Emeka Okafor is expected to be on the floor when Washington opens the regular season at the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)
October 28, 2012

The Wizards cut center-forward Brian Cook and guard Shelvin Mack on Sunday, bringing their roster down to the league-maximum of 15 ahead of the season opener.

Despite finishing out the 2011-12 season with the Wizards and Coach Randy Wittman, Cook and Mack lost out on the battle for the final two spots on the roster to new faces Earl Barron and Jannero Pargo, respectively.

Barron showed throughout camp that he could help fill the void in the Wizards’ injury-riddled front court. In the preseason finale against the San Antonio Spurs, when he received an unexpected chance to start after Emeka Okafor injured his shoulder, Barron recorded 12 points and 10 rebounds as a presence on both ends of the floor.

Cook, who was on a non-guaranteed training camp contract, averaged 3.9 points and 3.3 rebounds over seven preseason games. After being acquired in a three-team trade with the Los Angeles Clippers last March, Cook appeared in 16 games with the Wizards last season.

Following the news that John Wall would miss a month of the regular season with a left knee injury, the Wizards signed Pargo a day before the start of training camp for additional depth. Wall’s injury created not only the opportunity for playing time but intense competition between Pargo, Mack and A.J. Price, who ultimately secured the starting spot heading into the season opener.

Pargo, 33, wasn’t a model of consistency over five exhibition contests — he averaged 7.6 points while recording as many turnovers as assists (16). But his nine years of experience may be why he beat out Mack for the backup point guard role.

Mack, who the Wizards selected with the 34th overall pick in 2011, served as Wall’s primary backup as a rookie in 2011-12 when he appeared in 64 contests, averaging 3.6 points, 2.0 assists and 12.2 minutes per game. But then Mack struggled in summer league play, prompting the Wizards to bring in Price on a guaranteed deal. Despite some improvement and recording 4.1 points and 2.8 assists over eight preseason contests, Mack continued to show growing pains when handed the keys to the offense.

Okafor ready to go

Wittman said he expects Okafor to be ready to face the Cleveland Cavaliers in their regular season opener on Tuesday. Okafor sat out the preseason finale Friday against the San Antonio Spurs after injuring his right shoulder in practice the day before.

There’s no change in the status of Wall (left knee), Nene (plantar fasciitis) or Kevin Seraphin (right calf).

Early departure

As the mid-Atlantic region made final preparations and braced for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy, the Wizards made an adjustment of their own to avoid the severe storm.

The Wizards will depart Dulles for Cleveland at 8 a.m. on Monday, rather than practice at Verizon Center and travel in the afternoon as they typically would.

Sandy is expected to drop four to seven inches of rain, and bring sustained winds above 35 mph between Sunday and Tuesday, according to The Post’s Capital Weather Gang, with the worst impact coming Monday into Tuesday.

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