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Should the Wizards Leave a Roster Spot Open for Al Harrington?

July 27th, 2014 at 4:29 PM
By Matt Graber

Photo credit: Keith Allison / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Washington Wizards have been more active than usual this offseason. After resigning center Marcin Gortat, the team made a surprising move by signing veteran Paul Pierce to replace Trevor Ariza. The team didn't stop there, as they fortified their front court by adding forwards Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair while bringing back Drew Gooden and Kevin Seraphin. After this series of widely praised roster moves, the Wizards have filled 14 roster spots, leaving one vacancy that the team doesn't seem to be in any rush to fill. Veteran Al Harrington is considered the most likely candidate for the final spot should he decide to play another season. But is that really the best option?

Harrington, an 18 year veteran, brings valuable leadership and experience to the locker room. He's a respected presence who cans serve as a mentor alongside Paul Pierce and Andre Miller. On the court, Harrington can stretch the floor better than any of the wizards's current big men and has proven to be an effective scorer throughout his career. But at 34 and coming off knee surgery, Harrington may not be healthy enough to make a serious contribution, and the wear and tear of another season may prove too much for his body to handle. And even if he is healthy, the Wizards now have a loaded front court, and with only so many minutes to go around, Harrington would struggle to crack the rotation behind Gortat, Nene, Humphries, Blair, Gooden and Seraphin. 

The Wizards would be better served filling another area of need, like adding another guard to bolster their perimeter depth. While Miller is a steady backup to John Wall, Garrett Temple doesn't add much offensively, and while Glen Rice Jr. looked fantastic in Summer League play, he still has to prove he can get it done in the regular season. Of course, the Wizards don't have much cap room to work with anymore, and the free agency market has pretty much dried up, but adding another veteran guard at the minimum who can contribute some minutes behind Wall, Miller, Rice and Beal could prove beneficial and could allow the Wizard to roll back Wall and Beal's minutes slightly near playoff time if need be. 

While recovering from his injury, Harrington has been serving as a volunteer assistant coach for the Wizards' Summer League team, showing that he's clearly begun thinking about life after his playing career is over. A respected veteran like Harrington should be able to find an assistant coaching job, either for the Wizards or for another team, so if he feels that his playing days are over, he may have found his future calling. If he decides to stay on with the Wizards, he may be able to contribute more as an assistant than as an active player. He clearly has his finger on the pulse of the roster, and if he's mostly going to serve as a coach on the bench anyway, may as well make it official and open up another roster spot. Harrington is far from the worst candidate for the 15th roster spot, but at this point in his career, a move to coaching may be mutual beneficial for him and the team. 


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