The Washington Wizards and free-agent swingman Alan Anderson have agreed to a one-year, $4 million contract, according to two people with knowledge of the situation. The signing, which comes in the wake of David West’s decision to sign to take less money to sign with the Spurs, will not be official until Thursday, when the NBA moratorium is lifted.
Anderson will receive part of Washington’s midlevel exception, which is worth a total of $5.464 million. The remaining portion, approximately $1.464 million, can be used to sign another player. The Wizards currently have one vacancy on their 15-man roster.
Anderson, 32, has established himself as a solid rotation piece after going undrafted out of Michigan State in 2005 and playing four seasons overseas. He spent the past two campaigns with the Brooklyn Nets and averaged 7.3 points while shooting 34.3 percent from three-point range. He became a free agent after declining a player option that would have paid him $1.3 million next season.
The acquisition falls in line with Washington’s offseason plan. The Wizards entered free agency with two preeminent priorities: bringing back Paul Pierce and acquiring versatile pieces. Pierce elected to join the Los Angeles Clippers over the Wizards on the first day of free agency but Washington has been able to diversify its roster since his departure.
First, the Wizards acquired forward Jared Dudley from the Milwaukee Bucks for a future second-round pick to fill the stretch-four void left by Pierce. Then they agreed to a one-year deal with guard Gary Neal to supply bench scoring. And in Anderson, they have a stout defender at 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds that can guard multiple positions and premier scorers on the wing.
With the trio joining Otto Porter Jr., Bradley Beal, and Garrett Temple on the roster, Washington can ease rookie Kelly Oubre Jr.’s development while not sacrificing future financial flexibility — all three veteran additions will be free agents next summer.
The cast also supplies Coach Randy Wittman a vast array of options to counter a variety of lineups, big and small. As the NBA shifts toward smaller lineups and places a greater emphasis on shooting and spacing, the Wizards were one of a few teams in the league to regularly start a traditional front court last season. They made adjustments in the playoffs, but foiling small-ball lineups was an issue over the course of the regular season.
“Obviously, playing small is successful for us, playing faster,” Wittman said in his exit interview with the media in May. “Those are the things that I want to try to improve this team moving forward with. Being able to play smaller, being able to play faster. This team proved that in the playoffs because we played smaller than we were able to. Now, we’ve got to be able to have the pieces to do that in the regular season. So those are areas you’d like to maybe try to get better at.”
The Wizards must now choose what to do with their final roster spot. A big man is likely if they decide to fill the opening. They could look externally in free agency, though the talent pool has dwindled over the last week. A trade — Washington still owns a trade exception worth $2.252 million — or re-signing Drew Gooden III, who evolved into an effective stretch-four last season, or Kevin Seraphin are other possibilities.