Wittman prefers to fill final spot with size

Wittman prefers to fill final spot with size
July 11, 2013, 5:30 pm
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The Wizards conducted their final practice session on Thursday afternoon before heading west for the Las Vegas Summer League. The team also made team president Ernie Grunfeld and coach Randy Wittman available for the first time since the start of free agency.

Speaking with the media separately, the two concurred on most topics including the importance of retaining Martell Webster and Garrett Temple; the significance of adding free agent point guard Eric Maynor; the magnitude of this off-season/upcoming campaign for rising third-year forwards Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton; and signs of early development/ long-term promise of first pick Otto Porter. Grunfeld also offered briefly touched on John Wall's contract status.

One area in which Grunfeld and his head coach offered somewhat diverse takes? Whether there is a need for more roster tweaking.

“I think we feel good about the team," Grunfeld said during his press conference at the Verizon Center. "We have 14 guys under contract. We’re ready to go to training camp. You never what know what happens between now and training camp. There’s always a lot of discussion going on, but I think we have most of our positions filled. We’re two deep at least at every position, and with the versatility we have, we probably have three guys at every position, so we feel good about where we are."

Later and following the team's scrimmage, Wittman spoke with media members in a hallway outside the team's practice court. The coach was asked about how he likes the new-look roster compared to when he took over as head coach in January 2012.

"We've totally changed since I took over in the middle of the year in terms of players, ... the culture of our team, how we go about things, the way we want to play," Wittman said. "It's different and hopefully we can make a couple of more moves here. We've got situations that I think we need to look at.

"We need to continue to see if we can add a piece to this team, whether that's through picking up a free agent or a trade or making a move like that. I don't think we're going to relax now and we shouldn't."

Speculation on potential moves has centered on the Wizards young frontcourt options, primarily the offensively challenged forward trio of Vesely, Singleton and Trevor Booker along with center Kevin Seraphin. 

During the final portion off Wittman's media session, the topic returned to the roster makeup and what need area the coach specifically would like to add.

"We've got to continue to look. We do have to look probably at a [big], from a bigger standpoint, maybe adding someone to the frontline of that nature. See if we can do that."

All of the Wizards offseason moves - drafting Porter and Rice, signing Webster, Maynor and Temple - have involved perimeter-type players. The true interior spots have not changed from last season.

Neither has the need for a big man with range, a "stretch-four." Wall openly expressed his desire for that type of player following the season. Before the draft, Grunfeld stated his belief that such a player already exists on the roster, but without specifying anyone.

Even with the new and returning pieces, Wittman believes that specific need remains.

"We need to find a stretch-four," Wittman said. "That's always good to have the ability to go big, which we can obviously with Emeka, Nene or Kevin. A situation where you can bang people, but you also want to have the ability where you can stretch the floor especially with the players we have now on the perimeter with John and Bradley.

"You want to be able to spread the floor out and clear the paint to give those opportunities to get to the basket. To do that, you need a guy that can space the floor with a shot as one off your bigs."

Perhaps the Wizards can identify such a player in Las Vegas or in the latter portions of the offseason. NBA teams can carry 15 players during the regular season, meaning one spot remains open.

"We want to have a little bit of flexibility. If the right player comes along, we want to have the ability to be able to sign that player," Grunfeld said.

Regardless of any additional moves, Wittman concurred this is the best he's felt about the roster since taking over as coach.

"Yeah, as long as we stay healthy. I felt pretty good about our team last year to be honest with you," Wittman said.

The Wizards have made it clear Wall is the right player for them and one they want to keep. Grunfeld stuck to that line of thinking when asked about Wall's potential extension, but passed on offering any particulars.

"We've said all along we want John with us long term. That's something we've let them know that that's our intention, that's something we'll work on as the summer progresses," Grunfeld said.

As for immediate progress, the team hopes Porter, Rice, Vesely and Singleton continue their respective development as they play at least five games during summer league play. The Wizards plan to practice in Las Vegas on Friday before their first game against Golden State on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET. Comcast SportsNet will broadcast the opener and the July 14 matchup against the New York Knicks (4 p.m.) in addition to other games.

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