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Getting Ready For The Off-Season (Part One)
Well, the Wizards have made their two second-round selections: God Shamgodd and Pedrag Drobnjak. Shamgodd has a good chance of making the team, while Drobnjak is expected to stay in Europe at least one more year.
Meanwhile, Gheorghe Muresan is rivaling Shaq for movie stardom, Tracy Murray is recovering from off-season wrist surgery, Tim Legler is recovering from knee surgery, as is Lorenzo Williams, and CWebb is defending his collegiate honor. And we thought this would be a quiet off-season? *grin*
The Free Agents
At least it's not next year, when Harvey Grant, Gheorghe Muresan, and Rod Strickland are free agents, in addition to any other short-term contracts. The Wizards currently have 8 players under contract (Calbert Cheaney, Grant, Juwan Howard, Muresan, Murray, Strickland, CWebb, and Lorenzo Williams). Only 5 minor players are free agents: Ashraf Amaya, Jaren Jackson, Tim Legler, Ben Wallace, and Chris Whitney.
Assuming the Wizards make no trades of the first eight, that's only 4 roster spots (assuming no injuries) going into next season. Amaya is gone; he never showed enough during the season. Wallace was intriguing and will at least get a look in training camp, though I don't imagine he'll get a guaranteed contract. Jackson is another one that probably won't get a guaranteed contract, but (depending on general manager Wes Unseld's and coach Bernie Bickerstaff's mood) may get a training camp invite.
That leaves Chris Whitney and Tim Legler. Expect Chris Whitney to get pursuit from several teams (Boston, Charlotte, Denver, Detroit, Milwaukee, Philadelphia) in need of point guard help this off-season, despite a lackluster performance last season. The Wizards say they want to keep him, but the selection of Shammgod was a definite hedge against the future loss of Whitney.
Legler is a tough call. If he were healthy, he'd also be in demand across the league. However, I think the Wizards have the inside track on keeping him. Plus, I think Legler will come around and do more offensively this next season. So, expect him back.
Are The Wizards Interested In Jayson Williams Or Not?
At least in the DC area, the Wizards front office says that their interest in Jayson Williams is a no go. For whatever reason, they're not going to pull the trigger on this one. However, a new rumor is giving life to the talks.
Only this one, in the wake of the van Horn deal, isn't so nice: Jayson Williams and recently-acquired Don MacLean from the New Jersey Nets for Gheorghe Muresan and Calbert Cheaney.
In a word (or two): NO WAY!
Never mind that the then-Bullets gave up on MacLean, the oft-injured, no-defense forward not too long ago and he hasn't proven himself that valuable in his two most recent stops. I know he wasn't exactly a favorite of Wes Unseld. He was with Bernie Bickerstaff in Denver, however.
But this makes no sense for the Wizards. They trade their one good defensive player in their backcourt for yet another forward (even one that provides some offense). The Wizards already have Tracy Murray (who plays more forward), except Murray plays better defense and hustles more.
I've been saying for a while that, coming into this off-season, the Wizards have two tradeable quantities: Muresan and Cheaney. But to combine them in the proposed deal above is absurd.
One of the ways to find minutes for Chris Whitney, should he be re-signed, is to trade Calbert and give some shooting guard minutes to Whitney. So, Cheaney could very well be on the block, despite his solid play over the last month-plus of the season and post-season. But as part of the Williams/MacLean trade is absurd.
This sounds like what New Jersey wants, and what the Wizards said no way to. Of course, Calipari leaks this to the media so that he looks good in the wake of the van Horn deal.
wtf 29 June 1997