The Washington Post

Al Harrington, Washington Wizards ‘close’ to signing one-year deal (Updated)

Al Harrington, guarding Andray Blatche while with the Nuggets in 2012. (Associated Press)

The desires of John Wall and Coach Randy Wittman to add a power forward who can stretch the floor from the perimeter may soon be met. According to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation, veteran free agent big man Al Harrington will arrive in Washington on Tuesday for a physical and is “close” to signing a one-year deal for veterans minimum of $1.4 million with the Wizards.

Harrington recently negotiated a buyout with the Orlando Magic and became an unrestricted free agent after clearing waivers last week. The Wizards aggressively pursued Harrington, who was also considering Chicago and the Los Angeles Clippers.

Harrington was limited to just 10 games last season with the Magic after having surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee in April 2012 that resulted in a staph infection.  He has been training with Joe Abunassar at the Impact Academy in Las Vegas, where the Wizards watched him work out over the weekend.

“I’ve got a lot left in the tank,” Harrington told USA Today recently. “I’m only 33 years old, and people act like I’m 40. I’m just excited about getting back out there on the court and showing everybody. For me, this year I’m going to have a chip on my shoulder, so if I play like that I’m going to be tough to deal with.”

A source close to Harrington said he is “pumped” about possibly joining the Wizards, who have already had a busy offseason that includes locking up Wall with a maximum contract extension, drafting Otto Porter Jr. and Glen Rice Jr., retaining Martell Webster and Garrett Temple, and signing Eric Maynor in free agency. The Wizards are hoping that the moves will help them end a five-year playoff drought.

If Harrington is healthy, the move wouldn’t bode well for the Wizards’ collection of young forwards – Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Booker, Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton – who got left behind last season. But it would fill a definite need to surround the speedy Wall with ample shooters on floor.

The 6-foot-9 Harrington has been a valued reserve for much of his 14-year career, averaging 13.7 points and shooting 35.2 percent from beyond three-point range with Indiana, Atlanta, Golden State, New York, Denver and Orlando. He has averaged in double figures in 11 seasons, posting a career-high 20.7 points as a starter with the Knicks in 2008-09. Harrington made five three-pointers and scored 29 points to lead the Nuggets to a win over the Wizards two years ago, in Flip Saunders’s second-to-last home game with the franchise.

The Wizards have committed close to $70 million to 14 players and would be hovering near the luxury tax line ($71.75 million) if they are able to retain Harrington for the veteran’s minimum of $1.4 million. Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld generally prefers to keep the 15th spot available and fill out his roster closer to training camp, which could signal that more moves are being considered.

The move would give the Wizards another veteran presence on a team that already features Emeka Okafor, Nene, Trevor Ariza, Martell Webster and Eric Maynor.

Harrington is represented by Dan Fegan, the same agent as Wall, Nene and Webster. Fegan brought Webster to the Wizards last August after Webster received a buyout from Minnesota. Webster went on to have a career year after suffering two injury-plagued seasons with the Timberwolves and signed a five-year, $22 million deal this summer.

Michael Lee is the national basketball writer for The Washington Post.



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Michael Lee · August 11, 2013