Still staggering from the loss of shooting guard Larry Hughes, the Washington Wizards are aggressively trying to find a new home for restricted free agent forward Kwame Brown and trying to fill their need for more front-line help.
A league source said yesterday that the Wizards have scheduled a meeting this weekend with free agent forward Donyell Marshall, who averaged 11.5 points and 6.6 rebounds for the Toronto Raptors last season. Marshall, 32, who is hosting a basketball camp in Reading, Pa., this week, has averaged 12.4 points and 7.3 rebounds in an 11-year career with Minnesota, Golden State, Utah, Chicago and Toronto. He has shot better than 40 percent from beyond the three-point line the past two seasons.
The Wizards have talked with several teams regarding a possible sign-and-trade involving former No. 1 pick Brown, a team source said. A source with knowledge of the discussions said the Lakers are considering offering swingman Caron Butler, and one of the following players: center Vlade Divac, point guard Chucky Atkins or swingman Devean George.
The 6-foot-7 Butler averaged 15.5 points and 5.8 rebounds last season and can play either shooting guard or small forward. He has been considered expendable since the Lakers acquired him as part of the blockbuster deal that sent Shaquille O'Neal to Miami last summer. Divac, Atkins or George would be thrown in for salary cap purposes. It's also possible the deal could include a 2006 first-round draft pick, which the Lakers acquired from Miami in the O'Neal trade. Divac, who is slated to earn $5.4 million next season, can be bought out of his contract for $2 million. That would save the Wizards $3.4 million on their salary cap, money that could be used to acquire other free agents.
Brown's agent, Arn Tellem, was scheduled to meet with Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak last night, according to a league source.
The Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks have also shown interest in Brown. According to league sources, the Pacers and the Wizards discussed a deal that would have sent shooting guard Freddie Jones and forward Jeff Foster to Washington. Indiana, however, is no longer interested in Brown.
The Knicks, who are in the market for a big man, have reportedly discussed a package including former Georgetown forward Mike Sweetney but Sweetney doesn't excite the Wizards, which led those talks to fizzle. The Hawks would consider signing Brown if they are unable to land one of the three big men they covet: Chicago's Eddy Curry, Chicago's Tyson Chandler or Philadelphia's Samuel Dalembert.
Brown, who was suspended by the Wizards during the playoffs after averaging 7.0 points and 4.9 rebounds during the regular season, is a restricted free agent, meaning the Wizards could match any offer made to him. The Wizards have already extended a qualifying offer to Brown worth about $6.9 million.
Teams aren't allowed to sign players or make trades until July 22, when the new collective bargaining agreement is expected to be ratified.
With Hughes agreeing to a five-year deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers last week, the Wizards have seven players under contract for next season. They would like to add a shooting guard and a low-post player through free agency or through a trade involving Brown.
The market for free agent shooting guards has dwindled with the recent signings of Hughes, Ray Allen, Michael Redd and Bobby Simmons. A source close to free agent guard Cuttino Mobley said yesterday that it is unlikely that he will join the Wizards. The Wizards had discussions with Mobley's representatives, but the source said Mobley is "very far down the line" in negotiations with other teams. Mobley, who averaged 17.2 points last season with Orlando and Sacramento, has been in talks with the Los Angeles Clippers and the Denver Nuggets. He opted out of a contract that would have paid him about $6.4 million next season.
The Wizards also met with restricted free agent guard Ronald "Flip" Murray in Las Vegas this week, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. Murray has been the primary backup for Allen in Seattle the past two seasons. Wizards President of Basketball Operations Ernie Grunfeld drafted Murray for the Milwaukee Bucks with the 42nd pick in 2002. He has averaged 9.6 points over his career.
According to a source close to unrestricted free agent shooting guard Juan Dixon, the team has expressed an interest in bringing back the former Maryland star, but nothing is imminent. The team has also been in discussions with the agent representing former Maryland guard Steve Blake, who is a restricted free agent.