Wizards roster rundown: Interior rotation taking shape

Wizards roster rundown: Interior rotation taking shape
July 16, 2014, 5:15 pm
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Las Vegas casinos pump extra oxygen into their venues in order to keep their customers energetic and alert. Fine, this might not actually be true and nothing more than urban legend. In fact, that's exactly the deal. Then again, something has the Wizards' decision-makers all kinds of active this week.

One day after adding Kris Humphries and retaining Drew Gooden, the Wizards continued to reshape their interior rotation by adding yet another big man in DeJuan Blair.

Those three appear to be the expected backups for starters Nene and Marcin Gortat. Trevor Booker agreed to terms with the Utah Jazz on Tuesday. Meanwhile, even though the Wizards previously offered Kevin Seraphin a $3.9 million qualifying offer, the four-year veteran center's future in Washington is iffy at best.

This flurry of moves follows the stunning small forward activity from Saturday. The Wizards agreed to terms with Paul Pierce after Trevor Ariza picked Houston’s four-year, $32 million contract.

Clearly this is what we call a fluid situation, but here’s a look at the roster as of Wednesday, 5:00 p.m. ET:

Projected starters

Power forward: Nene

Small forward: Paul Pierce

Center: Marcin Gortat

Wing guard: Bradley Beal

Point guard: John Wall


Bigs: DeJuan Blair, Drew Gooden, Kris Humphries

Wings: Otto Porter, Glen Rice Jr., Martell Webster

Guards: Andre Miller

Initially it appeared Humphries essentially replaced Booker as Nene's primary backup. That's still the case, but in terms of height, the 6-foot-9 forward more aptly steps in for Seraphin and therefore the second unit's center. In terms of bulk, Blair's 270-pound frame comes closest to Seraphin (278) even at 6-foot-7, which is around Booker's actual height.

Humphries has enough game and experience to step in when Nene inevitably misses 15-25 games due to injuries. The 29-year-old shot 42.6 percent on shots in 10-15 foot range. That’s below Booker’s team-leading 46 percent, but better than all others from last season’s roster.

As for Blair, he can play center, more than holds his own on the boards and provides energy when he steps on the court. He averaged 6.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and a team-high 2.0 steals in Dallas' seven-game playoff series loss to the Spurs. He did all that in only 13.5 minutes per game.

Gooden is the closest thing to a stretch-4 among the known frontcourt options.

Like Gooden, Garrett Temple is also expected back on a veteran minimum contract. That would bring the roster total to 13. This now assumes Seraphin does not return and that all the expected deals become official.

The team may lean toward opening the regular season with 14 players, keeping the 15th spot open for future flexibility. CSN's Wizards Insider J. Michael looked at potential options remaining in free agency.

There were arguments for keeping Seraphin, at least before the news on Blair. Washington has until July 23 to rescind the qualifying offer.

Seraphin provides size and occasional offense, but hasn’t shown he can step in as a starter if needed. He’s also not a rim protector and neither is anyone else on the roster besides Gortat. That includes Blair and Humphries

Undrafted rookie Khem Birch, the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year, could contribute in this area. As a rebounder and shot blocker, Birch has been the top interior threat on Washington's summer league team. Following Tuesday's win over the Miami Heat, Sam Cassell, the Wizards head coach in Las Vegas, said he would keep Birch on the roster.

Along with Humphries, the 6-foot-9, 220-pounder can help fill the energy-big man void left by Booker’s departure. The UNLV product needs lots of work offensively. At this point his points come primarily on putbacks and dunks, but he's been efficient with his opportunities in Las Vegas.

Gortat, Nene, Humphries and Gooden will all be 30 or older by February. Blair, 25, brings a young set of legs, though ones that don't have ACLs.

The odds are steeper regarding returns for forwards Chris Singleton and Al Harrington, though not inconceivable. With Webster sidelined or even if when he returns, the roster could stand t add another perimeter shooter. Perhaps that’s an option if the Wizards use their 15th roster slot from the start.

[RELATED: Wizards finalize deal to acquire DeJuan Blair]