The Washington Wizards have reached an agreement in principle with 6-foot-11, 230-pound Calvin Booth, their second-round draft choice from Penn State, General Manager Wes Unseld said last night. The length of the deal was unavailable, but since the Wizards are over the NBA's salary cap, Booth is limited to the rookie minimum salary of $301,875 this season.
Booth and guard-forward Richard Hamilton, whom the Wizards drafted with the seventh pick overall in this year's NBA draft, are expected to sign their contracts this afternoon at a news conference at MCI Center.
Booth is the Big Ten Conference career leader in blocked shots. He is known as a defensive specialist and is regarded as a solid NBA prospect because of his specialty.
"He's one of the best shot-blockers in the country, no question," Dayton Coach Oliver Purnell said last season after Booth blocked 10 shots in a game against the Flyers. "That's a weapon -- that's something you have to contend with."
Booth finished his college career with 428 blocked shots after starting 111 of 114 games in four seasons. Last season, he was fifth in the nation in blocked shots (3.52 per game). He also averaged 15.3 points and 8.3 rebounds last season, and his 1,288 career points rank him eighth on Penn State's scoring list.
Mark Termini, Booth's agent, could not be reached to comment last night and has not returned phone messages for the past week.
Thursday, Hamilton agreed in principle to terms with the Wizards for the second time this summer. After agreeing to the initial deal in July, he subsequently fired his agent, Al Irby.
Hamilton will sign a three-year contract for slightly more than $5.9 million, the maximum permitted for him under the NBA's wage scale for first-round draft choices. He has recovered from an ankle injury that kept him from playing for the United States in an Olympic qualifying tournament.
First-year Wizards coach Gar Heard is hoping to set his roster this week. The imminent signing of Hamilton and Booth means they can begin strength and conditioning drills and play pickup games against their new teammates until training camp opens Oct. 4.
"We have a lot of new faces this year," Heard said last week. "Once we get them together playing and getting to know each other, it'll be an advantage when we go to training camp."