Despite the departure of Trevor Ariza, the Washington Wizards bounced back with a few nice pickups via free agency.
If a grade was to be placed on the Washington Wizards’ performance during the free agency it should be an A+. No, not a mere A, but an actual A+! Okay, they may have lost Trevor Booker to the Utah Jazz and Ariza to the Houston Rockets but trust, the front office has something special in the making.
First off, the re-signing of center Marcin Gortat was big for the Wizards’ organization. Gortat and the Wizards agreed to a 5-year deal worth $60 million. Gortat must feel very special because the Wizards gave him such a hefty offer. This will only strengthen his relationship with the franchise. The 30-year-old giant averaged 13.2 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks last year.
The Wizards continued to beef up there front court during the free agency period by grabbing not one,not two,not three but four more big men.
As part of a three-team trade between the Pelicans, Wizards and Rockets, the Wizards received 36-year-old center Melvin Ely from the Pelicans. Ely played just two games but is a veteran who can add some much needed knowledge to the team.
Two sign-and-trade deals helped the Wizards snag two very aggressive veteran bigs. In exchange for 2009 second-round pick Emir Preldzic, the Wizards acquired 6-foot-7, 270-pound center DeJuan Blair from the Mavericks. The deal between Blair and Washington is a three-year, $6 million agreement. Blair,25, averaged 6.4 points to go along with 4.7 rebounds last season. The Wizards also got their hands on Kris Humphries. By giving up a 2015 second-round draft pick to the Boston Celtics, the Wizards were able to bring Humphries to DC by way of a three-year, $13 million deal. The 29-year-old power forward averaged 8.4 points and 5.9 boards for the Celtics a season ago.
Like Gortat, Drew Gooden will also be staying with the Wizards. The Wizards re-signed Gooden to a one-year contract worth $1.45 million. The 32-year-old averaged 8.3 points and 5.2 rebounds in 22 games last season. After looking like his career was headed for the pits, Gooden was suddenly rejuvenated once the Wizards signed him towards the end of last season.
Possibly the most intriguing move the Wizards made during free agency so far, was picking up free agent small forward Paul Pierce. The Wizards and Pierce agreed to a two-year, $11 million deal. Pierce averaged career-lows in points(13.5) and minutes per game(28.0) for the Brooklyn Nets last season. Pierce, who is 18th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with 25,031 points, is now 36 years old and also a 16-year veteran. The golden days may be gone for Pierce but “The Truth” can provide timely scoring and uncanny playmaking skills for the Wizards.
Overall, the Wizards have done a terrific job during the free agency period. The new acquisitions of Pierce, Blair, Humphries and Ely make the Wizards stronger inside and outside. By reuniting Gooden and Gortat with Nene Hilario, Washington can build upon their success in the post. In a collective sense, the Wizards arguably have the most formidable unit of bigs in the NBA. From the looks of it, the Wizards did some serious work during free agency, which will help them create more magic down the road.