Wizards Undecided on Pecherov

oleksiy pecherov - washington wizards
The Wizards might decide that Oleksiy Pecherov might be better off in Washington even if he's not a part of Coach Eddie Jordan's regular playing rotation because of the mediocre quality of play in the Ukrainian Superleague. (Katherine Frey - The Post)
By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 12, 2006

With training camp less than two months away, the Washington Wizards have yet to decide where first-round pick Oleksiy Pecherov will play this season.

Team and league sources indicated this week that the Wizards are considering signing Pecherov and bringing him to camp, which will open in the first week of October. The 7-foot Pecherov played in Paris last season but remains under contract to his team in Ukraine. Pecherov holds a buyout option and has indicated that he would sign with the Wizards if they want him to play in the NBA this season.

Under NBA rules, the Wizards can pay up to $500,000 of Pecherov's $800,000 buyout. One key issue is that Pecherov's team, BC Kiev of the Ukrainian Superleague, would want Pecherov to play in Ukraine if he does not sign with the Wizards.

The problem, sources say, is that the quality of play in the Ukrainian Superleague is not on par with other top European leagues, so the Wizards might decide that Pecherov would be better off in Washington even if he's not a part of Coach Eddie Jordan's regular playing rotation.

Pecherov averaged 12.6 points and 7.6 rebounds while shooting 46.2 percent in five games with the Wizards' summer league team in Las Vegas in July. His performance, along with the continued development of second-year forward Andray Blatche, have Jordan and President of Basketball Operations Ernie Grunfeld visualizing a future lineup that will include a pair of skilled big men who can play multiple positions.

The potential of Pecherov and Blatche also contributed to the team's decision not to match the five-year, $30 million offer made to guard-forward Jared Jeffries by the New York Knicks.

"We have the option to bring him over here, but the situation with his home team will determine what we do with him," Grunfeld said of Pecherov. "We are very high on him -- he had a very good summer for us. . . . He is going to be a good rebounder in this league, he can make his outside shot and he is a tough guy who is not a afraid to mix it up, so we think he has a good future ahead of him."

The Wizards have 14 players under contract but only 12 are guaranteed. Second-year guard Donell Taylor and third-year center Peter John Ramos have non-guaranteed contracts. As a third-year player, Ramos will not be eligible to play with the team's NBA Development League affiliate, which is now in Bismarck, N.D., and might have to earn a spot on the roster with a strong performance in training camp and the preseason.

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