Wizards Are Pondering Many Moves
Sunday, July 15, 2007
LAS VEGAS, July 14 -- Moments after receiving a call on his cellphone late Friday night with the news that DeShawn Stevenson had agreed to terms of a four-year, $15 million contract, Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld stepped back into the gym on the campus of UNLV and resumed watching the summer league team play the Houston Rockets.
After using a chunk of the mid-level exception to retain Stevenson, Grunfeld was undoubtedly already thinking about his next moves. The team plans on retaining unrestricted free agent forward Andray Blatche and also must decide what to with the biannual exception, a provision that gives the Wizards the option of signing a player to a contract with a salary of up to $1.8 million next season.
Grunfeld must also decided what, if anything, to do with the NBA rights of Spanish star Juan Carlos Navarro, a 6-foot-3, 170-pound guard who recently negotiated his way out of his contract with FC Barcelona.
Whatever Grunfeld's plans, he won't have a lot of space under the luxury tax threshold ($67.9 million). The team had approximately $60.5 million committed to contracts before reaching an agreement with Stevenson, whose cap number for next season should be around $3.7 million.
Teams that go over the luxury tax must pay $1 for every $1 they go over the threshold and Grunfeld has said that the Wizards do not want to pay the tax. Once Stevenson signs, the Wizards will have 10 players under contract. The team also plans on signing rookie second-round pick Dominic McGuire, who is expected to receive a contract that will pay him around $450,000 this season.
Blatche is a restricted free agent, meaning the Wizards would have seven days to decide whether to match any offer made to him. The danger for the Wizards is that some team could sign Blatche to a contract using the mid-level exception (a first-year salary of $5.3 million). Matching the offer could push the Wizards over the luxury tax.
According to a league source, the Dallas Mavericks have expressed interest in Blatche, who was drafted by the Wizards in the second round of the 2005 draft. The Mavericks still have the full mid-level available.
Wizards Top Cavs
The Wizards snapped a nine-game losing streak in the Las Vegas summer league that dated from 2005 with a 76-71 win over Cleveland on Saturday night. Rookie shooting guard Nick Young led the Wizards (1-3) with 18 points on 6-of-14 shooting.
Rookie forward Olekisy Pecherov, who scored 26 points with 14 rebounds in Friday night's loss to Houston, finished with 14 points and rookie forward Dominic McGuire added 11 points and eight rebounds for the Wizards, who conclude summer league Sunday against Milwaukee.
"We've improved from game to game but tonight we did a good job of taking care of the little things that win games," said assistant coach Wes Unseld Jr., who is leading the summer league squad. "We have a real young team so this has been a good experience for those guys as far as learning how to play a full game. Tonight we did that."