Wizards will keep options open on 15th roster spot

Wizards will keep options open on 15th roster spot
February 24, 2014, 7:00 pm
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Highlights: Wizards 96, Cavaliers 83

(Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports)

When the Wizards made a move to trade two players last week for one, it was with the intention to sign a player to open roster spot. With Nene out the rest of the regular season with a left knee ligament sprain, there's a little more urgency, but the Wizards aren't exactly scrambling to fill it. These are among the names being considered -- Drew Gooden, Antawn Jamison, Lou Amundson and Justin Hamilton, among others -- but there'll be no immediate commitment to a contract for the rest of the season or before Tuesday's game vs. the Orlando Magic at Verizon Center. 

Gooden, a person with knowledge of the situation told CSN Washington, is the leading candidate in that bunch to sign a 10-day contract for the 15th roster spot. Gooden actually lives in nearby Bethesda, Md., and has worked out at Verizon Center this season so the Wizards are familiar with him. Hamilton is a 7-footer who plays for Sioux City in the D-League who averages just less than 20 points and 10 rebounds per game.

But such a signing will be more of an insurance move not because of Nene, but because Kevin Seraphin and Trevor Booker, both of whom have been dealing with leg injuries. Seraphin has had an issue with swelling in his right knee. 

The Wizards (28-28) seem certain, after acquiring Andre Miller from the Denver Nuggets last week and the return of Al Harrington from right knee surgery, that they have all of the pieces needed to qualify for the playoffs. And by the time Nene gets back they'll be at full speed. As long as Harrington rounds into form, Jamison is an unlikely fit. 

Nene went down in Sunday's game at the Cleveland Cavaliers midway through the third quarter when he appeared to bump knees with Jarrett Jack and then injured it even more when he tried to push off of it. He left Quicken Loans Arena on crutches and received an MRI Monday that revealed there were no tears, though he'd be out six weeks which means almost the entire remaining regular season schedule. 

The Wizards, who are on a three-game winning streak, are 7-34 without Nene in the lineup and 60-61 with him in it since being traded to Washington during the 2011-12 season. 

[RELATED: Wizards will be without Nene for six weeks]

He'll likely be replaced by Booker in the starting lineup, though coach Randy Wittman opted for Seraphin in the 96-83 win in Cleveland. 

Seraphin can produce the offense lost without Nene, who averaged 14.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game, but where the Wizards tend to suffer without him is their basketball IQ as they like to play through the Brazilian in the low post. 

Booker can provide better defense and make the hustle plays, such as drawing charges, but he is undersized. Wittman likely will have to mix and match his lineups and hopefully find the personnel that works best. 

Chris Singleton, who has appeared in just 14 games, also is a strong possibility to get a look from the Wizards before anyone signed to a 10-day contract. 

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