The Wizards have added another piece to their 2005-2006 puzzle by reaching a contract agreement with free agent guard Antonio Daniels.
Daniels, an eight-year veteran who spent the past two seasons with the Seattle SuperSonics, agreed to a five-year contract worth around $30 million late Tuesday night, according to a league source. Trades and signings cannot be officially announced until the new collective bargaining agreement is ratified. That was supposed to happen tomorrow but the date has been pushed back while the players' association and NBA iron out details of the contract. A new date has not been set.
The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Daniels has made stops in Vancouver, San Antonio, Portland and Seattle and has posted career averages of 7.8 points, 1.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. Last season, Daniels was one of the keys to Seattle's surprising success. Seattle won the Northwest Division with a record of 52-30 and pushed the eventual NBA champion San Antonio Spurs to six games in the Western Conference semifinals.
Daniels averaged 17.8 points in the series against San Antonio and a career-best 13.8 points in 11 playoff games. According to a team source, the Wizards view Daniels as a classic "combo guard" and a solid defender who will fit in well with Coach Eddie Jordan's up-tempo style. Daniels joins a back court that includes Gilbert Arenas, Chucky Atkins, Caron Butler and Jarvis Hayes, who missed 28 regular season games and the playoffs after a knee injury.
The Daniels deal could mean that restricted free agent Steve Blake and unrestricted free agent Juan Dixon, both reserve guards, could be headed elsewhere. The Wizards lost their starting shooting guard when Larry Hughes opted to accept a free agent contract offer from Cleveland.
The decision to sign Daniels came on the same day that free agent forward Donyell Marshall elected to accept a four-year contract worth between $20 million and $25 million from Cleveland. The Wizards were one of several teams interested in Marshall and met with Marshall over the weekend, but the team was not willing to offer a four-year deal.
"Donyell felt that Cleveland would be a better fit in terms of opportunity, minutes, upside and from a family perspective, geography played a significant role," said Marshall's agent, Andy Miller.
Daniels also drew interest from several teams, including the Lakers, Trail Blazers and Jazz but the Wizards won him over by offering a five-year contract and an opportunity to play the kind of up-tempo, wide-open game he flourished in with Seattle.
The addition of Daniels means that the Wizards have 10 players under contract for the 2005-2006 season: Daniels, Arenas, Butler, Atkins, Hayes, Antawn Jamison, Jared Jeffries, Etan Thomas, Brendan Haywood and Peter Ramos. Rookie second-round draft pick Andray Blatche has yet to sign, but the Wizards and his agent, Eric Fleischer, have been in contract discussions. The Wizards have shown interest in restricted free agent forward Darius Songaila, but he may be out of their price range. Songaila opted out of a player option with the Sacramento Kings that would have paid him $1.76 million next season. The team also has held contract talks with Miller about unrestricted free agent forward Michael Ruffin.
Former Maryland stars Blake and Dixon have been in talks with the Wizards but also have drawn interest from other teams. Dixon was on his way to Portland to meet with team officials and also will meet with Seattle this week. Dixon, who averaged 8.0 points and 1.8 assists per game last season, also has met with Indiana, Miami and Cleveland.
When the season ended, Dixon and Blake each indicated that they were seeking teams that could offer more playing time; that's not likely to happen in Washington. Atkins is slotted to be the primary backup point guard, a role filled by Blake the last two seasons, while Daniels, Butler and Hayes all figure to play shooting guard, where Dixon played.
The Wizards might opt to fill out their 15-man roster with less expensive players such as undrafted rookie Donnell Taylor, a combination guard who performed well with Washington's summer league team, or point guard Gerald Fitch, another summer leaguer who was one of the final cuts at the end of training camp last fall.
Staff writer Michael Lee contributed to this report.