Not finding the big man they wanted in Thursday's NBA draft, the Wizards are hoping they can retool their bench with some experience and unrealized potential such as Daniel Orton.
Orton, a 6-10 center who was drafted by the Orlando Magic in the first round out of Kentucky with then-teammate John Wall in 2010, has accepted an invite to train with the Wizards and participate at Las Vegas summer league which runs July 11-21, according to two people with knowledge of the situation.
Over the next week, the Wizards will fill out their summer league roster that will include Otto Porter, entering his second season, and a host of undrafted free agents. The Wizards passed on the No. 46 pick, taking guard Jordan Clarkson out of Missouri for the Los Angeles Lakers and selling him for almost $2 million in cash.
Orton was a one-and-done player at Kentucky where he played in 38 games but only contributed 3.4 points and 3.3 rebounds.
He wasn't ready for the NBA. Orton had a left knee injury from high school that left the muscles around it weakened and as a result he didn't play as a rookie.
He made two starts and played in just 16 games for the Magic in 2011-12, and during an assignment to the D-League he tore cartilage that required surgery. The Magic declined the third-year option on his rookie contract which allowed Orton to become a free agent.
Orton was signed by his hometown Oklahoma City Thunder for 2012-13, waived and then signed by them again. He was back-and-forth to the D-League, being assigned multiple times but couldn't stick. Orton appeared in just 13 games. The Thunder drafted center Steven Adams which made him fourth on the depth chart, even behind Hasheem Thabeet.
Then the Philadelphia 76ers signed Orton before last season and he lasted 22 games, including four starts, both career-highs, as were his stats: 3.0 points and 2.8 rebounds. Orton was waived again in January.
This is a chance for him to play his way back in. To be a first-round pick, he had to show some promise and his knee doesn't appear to be the issue any longer. Though D-League stats don't usually translate, he averaged 11.9 points and 7.5 rebounds. He's only 23 and has a 7-4 wingspan.
Despite his size, Orton isn't a true back-to-the-basket player and prefers a face-up game. He might not be the type of player who is going to take an established player's job away, but if restricted free agent Kevin Seraphin leaves that could create a spot. And given all the unrestricted free agents the Wizards have, and the always shaky health status of Nene, they can't have too many bigs if Orton proves himself worthy.
Last season, no one on the summer league team was able to play their way onto the 15-man regular-season roster for Washington. Then again, the Wizards didn't have any open roster spots or compelling reasons to cut someone to make room for Josh Childress and Pops Mensah-Bonsu.