New Wizards arrive in Miami, Mike Bibby seeking buyout
Saturday, February 26, 2011; 12:52 AM
MIAMI - The newest Washington Wizards took a red-eye from Phoenix the same night they were dealt from a playoff team in Atlanta to a team bound for its third straight lottery appearance. Mike Bibby, Maurice Evans and Jordan Crawford weren't even able to participate in the morning shoot-around as the team prepared for the Miami Heat on Friday, with the flurry of trade deadline deals keeping the NBA league office unable to complete the paperwork until later in the afternoon.
All three were startled by the move, but while Evans has accepted a reunion with Coach Flip Saunders and his staff, and Crawford has embraced an opportunity to finally get some playing time, Bibby remains lukewarm about the change and is disappointed by how he found out.
"I never knew it was coming. I heard some of the rumors, but I didn't really know about the trade until it went down," said Bibby, 32. "When you're an older guy in this league, I think you deserve the respect to get told that something is in the works. But that's the way this business is. You have to deal with what's put in front of you. I'm professional. I've been traded before, I know what it's like. It hurts, but you've got to get through stuff, there is nothing I can do. I'm going to do whatever it takes to help this team."
Bibby is slated to make $6.4 million next season but has requested a buyout and, according to a league source, the Wizards have had informal conversations about the possibility with Bibby's agent, David Falk. Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld has said he thinks a buyout is "unlikely," but said he was willing to listen, during a news conference about the trade that sent Kirk Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong to the Hawks. "It's always hard when you get traded. Rashard [Lewis] went through the same kind of things, initially," Grunfeld said. "But if that opportunity comes up, and it's something that helps both of us, it's something we'll look at, but right now, I don't know where that stands."
Bibby has been on playoff teams in each of his past nine seasons, and won at least 50 games five times. He would have to reach a deal by Tuesday if he wants to be signed by a contender. When asked about the buyout, Bibby said, "That's nothing I'm really worried about right now."
Evans said his familiarity with Saunders and his system should help with his adjustment. He played for Saunders in Minnesota as a rookie, and was a member of a Detroit Pistons team that won 64 games.
"When you make changes, it's tough, even if you are going to a contender. It's still an adjustment, but I'm familiar with the staff, so I'm comfortable," said Evans, who was undrafted out of Texas in 2001. "This is my third time with Flip and I'm just trying to come in and play hard and hopefully make a positive impact on this team."
Crawford played sparingly with the Hawks but is hoping he can become a part of the rotation in Washington. He worked out with his teammates, playing a game of four-on-four to get some familiarity with them.
"It's a lot of excitement. It's a big opportunity," said Crawford, who was picked 27th in the draft last June. "You want to be on a winning team. At the same time, as a young player, you want to have the opportunity to play, to showcase what you can do, so you can prolong your career. It's a chance I've got; I'm going to take advantage of it."