Shelvin Mack’s unlikely return to the team that waived him during training camp resulted in him receiving his first two NBA starts and helping the Wizards win one of seven games. But when it came time for the Wizards to determine whether to keep him with the team for the remainder of the season, Mack once again became expendable.
The Wizards waived Mack for a second time on Monday, sending back to unemployment after he contributed 5.3 points, 2.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists after joining the team on Dec. 25. In his final game with the Wizards, Mack had seven points and two rebounds in a 99-71 loss to Miami.
As Mack walked out of the visitor’s locker room at American Airlines Arena on Sunday night, he was unsure if he would be able to survive a second cut day with the Wizards but confident that he had given the team his best during a two-week reunion.
“I worry about the things I can control. Showing up, working hard everyday and doing the little things,” Mack said when asked if he had any apprehension about his future. “I think I’ve been playing pretty well. Just coming in, moving the ball. If I’m open, whenever, taking my shots. Tried to stay consistent, just try to improve each and every day.”
Mack, the Wizards’ 34th overall pick in the 2011 draft, was brought back to help the team have some stability as it waits for John Wall to make his season debut and A.J. Price to return from a broken right hand. He responded to getting cut in October by averaging 20.2 points, 7.1 assists, 5.0 rebounds, 1.3 steals for the Maine Red Claws of the NBA Developmental League.
“Shelvin took an opportunity to go down to the D-League and prove some things,” Coach Randy Wittman said recently. “I think that’s the main thing. Sometimes guys don’t do that. You get sent to the D-League and you feel sorry for yourself or you don’t understand this is an opportunity where a lot of people are still watching and following. He went down there and played with a lot of confidence.”
Wall and Price have both returned to full-contact practice, and their returns will bolster the Wizards’ backcourt, but they also meant that Mack and/or Garrett Temple would get waived.
Players who remain under contract through 5 p.m. will have their salary on the books for the remainder of the season. Temple survived, after replacing Mack as the starter and adding a bigger, more versatile player who could defend multiple positions.
Temple signed on the same day as Mack and averaged 5.3 points, 5.9 assists and 4.6 rebounds in seven games. He has struggled with his shot since arriving in Washington, connecting on just 29.2 percent of his field goal attempts.
“I think I have a lot to improve on. Definitely got to knock down some more shots,” Temple said after going 0-for-7 against Miami, which made Temple the Heat’s last cut of training camp. “But since my shot hasn’t been falling, try to affect the game in other ways. Get assists. Get rebounds, play aggressive defensively. The main thing, I’ve got to make some shots.”
Temple will get his opportunity to make some shots for the Wizards. Mack will have to start over. Again.