Photograph courtesy of Flickr user Keith Allison
Rejoice! The NBA is coming back—and not a moment too soon. In a misguided effort to replace live basketball, I recently agreed to attend Cirque du Soleil at Verizon Center. It was . . . different. But soon my nights will once again be filled with basketball. It’s been a long layoff, so I figured a reintroduction would be a good place to start. Here’s a look at the Wizards roster, in its current form.
John Wall, PG: He’s the reason for all of this. They’re building the franchise around him, and he’s poised to become one of the league’s next stars. Treasure him.
Jordan Crawford, SG: Well, he’s certainly not shy. He wants to be better than Michael Jordan, and he’s willing to shoot his way to the top if Flip Saunders will let him. Flip Saunders will not let him.
Rashard Lewis, F: The big-money man is owed $43+ million over the next two seasons. It doesn’t seem so bad when you look at it next to Gilbert Arenas’s contract. Unlike Arenas, Lewis probably won’t be released using the new amnesty clause. For starters, his contract allows them to meet this year’s salary floor. If they were to release him, they would need to replace his salary in a weak free-agency class. There’s no need to handcuff themselves with a new bad contract.
Andray Blatche, PF: For many Wizards fans, the lockout won’t truly be over until the Andray Blatche trade rumors start up. His trainer says he’s had a great off-season in the gym, although he’s been slacking since Thanksgiving. And that’s everything you need to know about Andray Blatche.
JaVale McGee, C: The team’s resident dunker and shot swatter has spent the off-season working on his personal brand. I’m not sure how far his post moves have progressed, but he has been staying busy. Off the top of my head, I’ve seen him eating a spoonful of cinnamon, planking his way through the Philippines, freestyling at Benihana, and gracing the pages of GQ. He’s closer to going viral than he is to making an All-Star team.
Trevor Booker, F: Wizards fans are eager to see more from Booker. He’s young, he’s athletic, and he needs minutes. Please don’t bring in a veteran to get in his way.
Kevin Seraphin, F/C: JaVale’s backup had a very un-JaVale off-season. He spent his time playing competitive basketball wherever he could. First it was as at Eurobasket 2011, where he served as a reserve for the second-place French team. More recently, he’s been playing in Spain for Caja Laboral Vitoria. For a guy who only began playing the sport in 2004, every bit of experience will help.
Jan Vesely, F: Well, we know he can dunk. When asked if his dunking prowess makes him the European Blake Griffin, he replied that Griffin is the American Jan Vesely. Swag. As long as we’re making comparisons, he also plays defense like Kevin Garnett and kisses like a dream.
Chris Singleton, F: The Wizards’ second first-rounder generated as much excitement as Vesely. That’s because he’s a tenacious defender with an NBA-ready body. He’s everything the team needed, and all it cost them was the 18th pick.
Shelvin Mack, PG: We know he’ll have no problem shooting at home. I watched in horror as the point guard carried Butler to an upset over my Pitt Panthers in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Verizon Center. He scored 30 points, and I’m still not comfortable thinking about it.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
Nick Young, SG; Hamady N’Diaye, C; Othyus Jeffers, SG; and Larry Owens, C: The Wizards have sent qualifying offers to all four, meaning they will be able to match any offers that come in. N’Diaye is a project, Owens is a warm body, and Jeffers is on the shelf with a torn ACL. The key piece is Young, who figures to be a big part of the team’s plans. I expect him back, hopefully with a well-crafted contract. Ted Leonsis has made it clear that he wants to follow the Oklahoma City model and build around a young core. That means retaining Young is the biggest priority when the abbreviated free-agency period begins.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
Maurice Evans, SF, and Josh Howard, SF: The agents for both players have received calls from the Wizards front office. Of the two, I’d guess Evans is more likely to be re-signed. If not, we’ll always remember him for helping to end that damned lockout.