The Washington Wizards entered the offseason hoping to keep the core that helped them win their first playoff series since 2005. Barely a week into NBA free agency period, the team is adjusting on the fly, adding forward Kris Humphries in a sign-and-trade deal with Boston on Tuesday and bringing back free agent forward Drew Gooden.
Trevor Ariza’s departure, agreed upon Saturday, became official Tuesday when a three-team sign-and-trade deal was finalized, sending the sharp-shooting swingman to Houston for a trade exception and the non-guaranteed contract of Melvin Ely from New Orleans. Later in the afternoon, unrestricted free agent forward Trevor Booker signed with the Utah Jazz after serving as a viable backup for the oft-injured Nene.
By day’s end, however, the Wizards’ front office had added Humphries and brought the savvy Gooden back into the fold, according to sources close to the situation.
Humphries, who averaged 8.4 points and 5.9 rebounds, was traded from the Celtics for part of the mid-level trade exception acquired in the Ariza deal, allowing the Wizards to sign the 10-year veteran to a three-year, $13 million deal, according to multiple reports.
The 6-foot-9 power forward is a strong rebounder who can knock down the mid-range shot when given space and also possesses the physicality to spell the recently re-signed Marcin Gortat at center.
Humphries’s skill set is similar to Gooden’s. The return of Gooden, who is still owed $7.4 million next season by Milwaukee after being amnestied prior to last season, was almost a foregone conclusion after he began putting down roots in the area with his girlfriend and skipped cleaning out his locker at the end of last season.
Gooden signed a 10-day contract with Washington in February after Nene suffered a knee injury. Originally a stop-gap measure, he stayed on the roster for the remainder of the season, becoming a valuable locker-room presence and spark off the bench during the team’s run to the Eastern Conference semifinals. In 32 games (including postseason), Gooden averaged 6.8 points and 4.9 rebounds.
Both Humphries and Gooden should help fill the void left by Booker, who agreed to a two-year deal worth $10 million, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
As the longest-tenured Wizard last season along with John Wall and Kevin Seraphin, Booker showed glimpses of potential in his fourth year, one highlighted by the Clemson alum registering 45 regular season starts. But by starting more than 41 games last year, Booker’s qualifying offer as a restricted agent who was a non-lottery draft pick raised to $4.7 million, an increase of $1.3 million from the start of last season.
The scrappy forward expressed his dismay at leaving the only team he’s ever played for professionally but also admitted he didn’t feel as if the Wizards made him a “priority” on the free agent market.
“Of course I’m going to miss Washington, but I had to do what’s best for my family and myself and what puts us in the best situation,” Booker said. “We’ve been talking with other teams. We were waiting on Washington. Honestly, I felt like they wanted to bring in another piece instead of me. So Utah was in the picture and I met with everybody [in Las Vegas] and we clicked right away, so I knew it was a good chance right then that I would be going to Utah.”