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Riding the Wizards Bench July

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Boy, Is Free Agency Boring...

Where's The Flash And Excitement?

Last year, about $650M were committed to players in the first 4 or 5 days of free agency alone. It made David Falk a very rich man. It made for lots of exciting basketball copy.

It makes for a very dull follow-up year.

You see, the high-profile players aren't available this year. Well, there was Patrick Ewing, who re-signed with the Knicks, and there is Michael Jordan, who is waiting to see who the Bulls' coach will be.

What have we seen so far in free agency? The high profile names include Ewing, David Wesley, Bryant Reeves, Bryon Russell, and a couple of players who were essentially second round picks last year (Shandon Anderson, Travis Knight).

Boy, that makes me excited.

No Flash From The Wizards

Not that it was expected. They are well over the salary cap, so are essentially limited to their own players or an occasional cap exception or rookie draft pick.

But general manager Wes Unseld has been doing a good job with what he's been dealt thus far. He retained our backup point guard for the past one-plus seasons in Chris Whitney, and he's close to re-signing the other two major free agents, Tim Legler and Ben Wallace.

When those are complete, that will be 11 guaranteed contracts the Wizards will be holding for next season. Unseld has said he will keep one spot open on the roster in training camp. Who it's for is hard to say.

What About Shammgod?

Interesting question. He's no guarantee to make this team. In fact, the Wizards haven't even talked with his agent about a contract yet, according to an article in the Washington Post today. I hope he got some appearance money for serving as a model for new Wizards wear last Friday.

Just remember last year's pick: Ronnie Henderson. You remember him? A bright talent in college, but he turned out to be unprepared for competing for a roster spot in the real world. We were told we got a steal in that draft. Turns out he wasn't mature enough for the NBA grind.

I'm not suggesting that Shammgod is the same. But remember to temper your expectations on what Shammgod would be able to do.

What About Rick Mahorn?

That's the other rumor, that the Wizards want to get Mahorn in as a guiding influence for some of the younger front-court players. First, Detroit has to release him from the option year of his contract. If that were to happen, all indications are that Mahorn wouldn't mind signing with the Wizards. But signing him would commit that 12th roster spot; is that what the Wizards want?

Probably not. And remember that Mahorn really isn't much of a player, though that isn't much of a threat because he's unlikely to get off the bench. But one solution came to me yesterday, and then it was raised on the mailing list today. (sales pitch: what do you mean you still haven't signed up for the mailing list? Go to "Wizards Talk" to find out how to sign up.)

Bring in Mahorn as an assistant coach. And if it's necessary because of injuries, you can always turn him into a player-coach.

Of course, this may not exactly mesh with what Bernie Bickerstaff wants. He's selected his assistant coaches, and they have specific roles on the team, including mentoring the younger players. Plus, Mahorn is more a friend of Wes than of Bernie, so this could be a little more complicated than just trying to get Mahorn in. There could be some maneuvering between Wes and Bernie going on here.

Oh boy, what a mess that would be. That would certainly be fun to write about! *grin*

wtf 17 July 1997

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