With the selection of available free agent power forwards diminishing, the Washington Wizards have intensified their pursuit of veteran Grant Long, according to Long's agent, Charles Tucker. The Wizards also remain interested in Corie Blount and Dickey Simpkins.
The Wizards re-opened talks with Tucker yesterday.
The sides had a preliminary conversation several days ago to gauge each other's interest, Tucker said. Washington, which needs a starting power forward and boasts a veteran starting lineup, is an ideal situation for Long, Tucker said.
Long, an 11-year veteran who spent four of the past five seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, could be the final piece of a starting lineup that recently was upgraded with the acquisition of center Ike Austin.
At 6 foot 9, Long is somewhat undersized at power forward, but he has proven capable of handling himself on both ends of the court. Long can play both forward spots, which would allow Washington to interchange him with small forward Juwan Howard depending on matchups.
The Wizards have needed a starting power forward since they traded Ben Wallace and Terry Davis to Orlando in the five-player exchange for Austin. Coach Gar Heard believes Howard, who has played power forward, is better suited for small forward.
Washington signed reserve power forward Aaron Williams to a two-year, $2.2 million deal earlier this month.
The Wizards hoped to acquire Dallas free agent forward Samaki Walker, whom they offered a contract, according to his agent, Norm Nixon. It was believed to be a three-year deal. Walker, however, signed a three-year contract with the San Antonio Spurs earlier this week.
J.R. Reid, another player targeted by Washington, recently signed with the Milwaukee Bucks for a starting salary of $2 million.
Attracting Long, 33, might prove equally difficult. Washington is over the salary cap and has just a $2 million salary cap exception to offer. The Wizards likely would propose a multi-year contract that could earn Long $4.4 million over two seasons or $6.6 million over three.