April 16, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Denver Nuggets power forward Al Harrington (7) shoots a free throw against the Houston Rockets during the fourth quarter at the Toyota Center. The Nuggets won 105-102. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Al Harrington: What It Means

Marc Stein reports that Al Harrington and the Wizards are closing in on a contract and, although it’s 2013 and Harrington is 33, this is potentially more meaningful than a veteran’s minimum contract. I say ‘potentially’ because Al Harrington picking the Wizards, and he did actually pick the Wizards, is due to one of two possibilities: Either he could not find playing time on a contender or he thinks the Wizards are a young compelling team and he’s intrigued… Or Dan Fegan keeps fleecing the Wizards and knew he could fleece them again. Just kidding.

Al Harrington was cut by the Magic with two years and almost $15 million left on his contract. Since contracts are guaranteed in the NBA, he is getting paid at money no matter what. It’s as if he was amnestied, except that his cap hit still sits on the Magic’s books. This provides Harrington with the ability to shop himself around at the veteran’s minimum with no financial concerns. He has no reason to chase money and the Wizards certainly have none to give him anyway. We know Harrington chose the Wizards due to one of the two reasons outlined above because of this reality. With reports that the Clippers showed interest floating around, it’s most likely that Harrington picked the Wizards because he really wanted to be in Washington. Wow, is all I have to say. Talk about new traditions and changing the culture. But that’s about where the celebration should stop.

A veteran chose the Wizards, but what kind of veteran is he? I imagine the idea is that he comes in as a steady locker room presence, contributes 10 minutes a game, and knocks down a few jump shots. Even if a limited role is in his future, I’m not ecstatic about the signing for a few reasons: Harrington’s reputation as a shooter is a bit overblown. His last two healthy seasons saw hit Seraphin-esque percentages from mid-range and slightly below league average from deep. His last four seasons register as great rebounding for a guard, decent rebounding for a small forward, and bad rebounding for a big. Harrington is also widely regarded as a big-time defensive liability at this point in his career. So if he’s an older, less mobile Kevin Seraphin, I don’t know how valuable he will be.

So while we should celebrate this signing as a step in the right direction for the franchise, we shouldn’t expect all that much out of Harrington on the court. A veteran chose the Wizards. The next step is a to sign a veteran that actually matters.

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