Big Moves in July Have Yet to Pay Off

By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Washington Wizards and Philadelphia 76ers made big splashes during free agency back in July, but neither team has much to show for it this season.

The Wizards signed forward Antawn Jamison to a four-year, $50 million deal on the eve of free agency then aggressively jumped out with a huge offer to Gilbert Arenas, who eventually signed a six-year, $111 million deal.

The 76ers had expressed interest in Jamison and Hawks forward Josh Smith, a restricted free agent, before turning their attention and checkbook to forward Elton Brand, who was expected to re-sign with the Clippers. Brand then jilted Los Angeles by signing a five-year, $82 million deal with the 76ers. He was expected to help Philadelphia make a big leap forward in the Eastern Conference this season.

Instead, the 76ers entered last night's game with an 11-14 record, recently fired Maurice Cheeks as coach and will be without Brand for about a month after he dislocated his right shoulder Wednesday night.

The Wizards, meantime, still don't know when Arenas will be back on the court. The three-time all-star has been limited to non-contact shooting drills and still hasn't been cleared to run or cut at full speed on his surgically repaired left knee.

Ayers Back on the Bench

Wizards assistant coach Randy Ayers sat on the bench for the first time since undergoing a surgical procedure on his neck Nov. 25. Ayers has been able to attend practices and perform other duties but only made one road trip and had not been cleared to be on the bench until last night.

Up Next: Saturday vs. Dallas 6 p.m. Comcast SportsNet, WTNT-570

Tuesday at Charlotte 7 p.m. CSN Plus, WTEM-980

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