Ivan Carter reported on the Wizard’s Insider that the Wizards and Antawn Jamison have agreed on a new contract.I am thrilled that Antawn has gotten resigned.Prior to Jamison joining the Wiz, the team was a wreck.Jamison and Gil, and now Caron, have lead this team back to respectability and a genuine team guy like Jamison should be rewarded for his hard work.When I have read people’s comments online and/or listened to them on local sports radio – I am struck by how quickly people forget the Wizards recent past.A little over 4 years ago, this team was a laughing stock.And while they need to improve to move beyond the first or second round, they have a team, when healthy, that should be able to do this.And while there are fans that would like to see some combination of players get traded for a stud in the middle, which is not going to happen without parting ways with major portions of the team.
Jamison is a consistent 20-10 guy, when there aren’t that many that do it on a consistent basis.He is part of a trio, when healthy, which averages 20+ points per night – the highest scoring trio in the league.In an environment that does not have dominant big men falling from the sky, the Wiz are best served finding another experienced big man who will grab rebounds, block a few shots, and can score a few points when t he ball is passed to him.Given that there isn’t someone like the Timberwolves (or Memphis) that is looking to give their franchise player away for a bunch of scraps, the best the Wiz can do is pick up a veteran that will bang and grab rebounds.There appears to be a few of these players available.While not the sexy choices, these type of role players could be exactly what the Wiz need.
We are just a few hours before NBA free agency gets started, and it is that time of year when sports talk typically turns to the changes that Ernie Grunfeld should make to Wizards.Well as many know, the Wizards have their own free agents to worry about – Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison and Roger Mason, Jr.After signing Gil and Antawn (and most likely losing Roger), the Wiz will not have a significant amount of money to spend on free agents, nor will they have a lot of roster space.They currently have 10 players under contract, not including Gilbert, Antawn, Roger and
The Wiz need someone in the paint who can rebound, block shots and occasionally score.And while Brendon Haywood had his best season last year and the Wiz just drafted JaVale McGee, it is important to look for help here – particularly since no one knows yet how Etan Thomas will play if/when he fully recovers.And because of the limited amount of money that the team is expected to have available, it is important to look at potential players that will not break the bank.Below is a list of potential free agents that appear to best fit this criteria.
Primoz Brezec, who is 28 years old and 7-1 and 252 lbs, could have the best long term potential.He is not much of a shot blocker, but he has showed the ability (in the 2004/2005 and 2005/2006 seasons), to score in the double-digits and pull down around 6 rebounds a game.
P.J. Brown has been a solid player for a number of years and at 6-11 and 239 lbs, he is not afraid to bang with anyone.However, at 38 years old, you may only get 1 more season out of him.
Theo Ratliff, at 35 years old and 6-10 and 235 lbs, is intriguing.Ratliff has been the best shot blocker on the list.If he is currently healthy, he could provide the Wiz with an excellent, defensive-oriented backup center for a season or two allowing McGee some time to develop.
Adonal Foyle (6-10 and 270 lbs) fits into the same category as Theo Ratliff, while not as proficient in blocking shots.And while he is two years younger (33 years old) and more expensive, I would tend to lean towards Theo Ratliff instead.
DeSagana Diop (7-0 and 280 lbs), much like Primoz Brezec, is an interesting choice because of his age (26 years old).He played on a team that runs (Dallas) and one that runs a similar offense (New Jersey), so you would think that he would have an easier time fitting in with the Wizards.And since he is still young, you have a player who can continue to develop and legitimately challenge for the starting position.Diop, like Brezec, are at the high-end of the pay scale for this list of players, but still in the range of bargain shopping.
Jamaal Magloire (6-11 and 265 lbs) at 30 years old still has a number of good years in him, but is also a former all-star performer at the center position.However, the style of play that best suits him is not the style that the Wizards play.
Considering this list, the two players that most interest me are Theo Ratliff and DeSagana Diop – for largely two completely different reasons.Theo was a very good shot-blocking center, but may be well past his prime.If he can be effective in limited minutes, Ratliff could be an effective defensive presence off the bench.He would be a short-term solution, buying the Wiz a year or two for some of the younger guys to develop.Diop, on the other hand, is better suited to compete with Haywood for the starting position – which could have a negative effect on Haywood.He is also young enough that he could be a potential fit for a few years to come.Given that the Wizards just drafted JaVale McGee, I don’t think picking up a young guy like Diop is the best move.However, the relatively low salaries of Diop, Ratliff and the other players mentioned above means that there are some potential bargains available to the Wiz if they are looking for a backup center to grab rebounds, block a couple of shots and score a few points in the paint.
Last summer I wrote, Boston Celtics: Monopoly Money, which was primarily about the amount of money that the Celtics had tied up in 10 players. Well less than one season later, the Celtics finished off the Lakers in the most lopsided game to clinch an NBA finals. So it would appear that the Celtics were able to get a favorable return on their investment. 😉
In that earlier post, I was questioning whether or not the Celtics had enough talent (4 – 14) to go deep in the playoffs. Well it is safe to say, that they proved me and many other people wrong. Ultimately, you know what you will get from their best player – Paul Pierce – and KG. Ray Allen is not the same player, but on some nights he will give you 20+, but you still have to respect his jumper. However, the role players are what ultimately did the Lakers in. It appeared that the Celtics’ role players had more desire, toughness and heart than anyone on the Lakers save Kobe Bryant.
In a draft that did not have a clear cut franchise big man, it was still nice to see the Wiz select a big man.By most accounts JaVale McGee is an incredible physical specimen but still very raw and with a tremendous amount of potential.And while Haywood clearly had his best season, the Wizards have long needed help in the middle – particularly rebounding, defense and a modest amount of scoring.Last season, due to Etan Thomas’ surgery, the Wiz largely played with one true center virtually all season.If McGee can manage to rebound and play defense on the NBA level, he could see some minutes this season, especially if Etan Thomas does not fully recover. On the surface, McGee appears to be a perfect fit for this team – a Center who is long, athletic, rebounds, blocks shots, scores in the paint… but can also shoot a jumper.Hopefully, he will meet and exceed his potential.Let’s hope he has the determination and drive to be the best.
While the Wizards work to sign Gil, Antawn, and it would be very nice to get Roger Mason back, the difference in the 08-09 season could be the continued improvement of Blatche, Pecherov and McGuire.In order to get past the Cavs in the playoffs, the Wiz need those three to develop to give them much more punch off the bench.Of course, I am assuming that Nick Young will also improve as well – but he clearly showed that he has the talent to be a special player.And while it is critical for the Wiz to have a healthy Gil and Caron, more consistent play from Blatche and stronger minutes from Pech and McGuire is what is needed most.