The Washington Wizards fortified their front line yesterday by signing free agent forward and D.C. native Michael Smith to a two-year, $4.2 million contract.
"I know what I've got to do, and I know what they want me to do," said Smith, who spent the past five seasons with Sacramento and Vancouver before he was traded to Orlando this summer. "I'm going to do the same things I was doing in Sacramento and Vancouver. I'm going to work hard and do all the little things--hustle and get rebounds."
Smith, who was released by the Magic on Wednesday as part of a buyout deal, was a hot commodity once he cleared waivers at 2 p.m. However, he said he felt his best opportunity was with Washington, but not because he grew up here.
"I feel great about coming home, but it's all business, no play," Smith said. "I'm coming here to help this team win."
Said George Mavrickes, Smith's agent: "I took phone calls from at least 10 teams [yesterday]. Washington was the best fit, and I think that says a lot about the Wizards and the direction this team is going in. This whole thing is going to turn out good."
The acquisition of Smith, who played at Dunbar High, sets up a heated training camp battle with Aaron Williams, the Wizards' only other non-minimum salaried free-agent signee.
Williams, 6 feet 9, has been working with several of his teammates for more than a month and likely will go into training camp Tuesday listed with the starters. However, Coach Gar Heard and General Manager Wes Unseld said no positions have been solidified.
"Nothing is guaranteed," Unseld said.
Washington used its $2 million exception to sign Smith and included a team option for a third year. If the Wizards do not exercise the option, they will buy out Smith for an undisclosed amount.
To make room on their 20-man training camp roster, the Wizards released training camp invitee Andre Riddick. No further transactions are expected before camp begins.