After trading Jan Vesely and Eric Maynor for veteran point guard Andre Miller, the Washington Wizards have an open roster spot that they could potentially fill before March 1st–which is the deadline to sign playoff eligible free agents.
Prior to acquiring Miller, the Wizards had a full roster and had little-to-no roster flexibility from that standpoint. Vesely and Maynor were essentially occupying spots on the team without contributing anything on the court. Vesely would rarely get in games, and when he did, the fouls were almost guaranteed to pile up. As for Eric Maynor, well, he enjoyed a front court seat to Wizards games after completely botching his opportunity to back up John Wall early in the season. With that said, they both took up space on the bench, and the Wizards have a chance to add two players that could possibly contribute if needed for the final 28 games.
Miller will almost certainly be an upgrade to Garrett Temple and Eric Maynor, providing the bench stability the Wizards could’ve used from the beginning of the season. At 38 years old, Miller has never really relied on athleticism and he won’t be asked to do anything out of the ordinary. Miller isn’t the defensive player he used to be, but he still possesses a good mid-range jump shot and he knows how to get the second unit into their offensive sets. John Wall was virtually the only player on the team that could handle the ball before Miller was acquired, and that alone should help the bench improve when Wall takes a breather.
Now that the backup point guard position is set, the Wizards could add another player to fill the 15th and final roster spot. Although it looks like “they’re leaning toward not filling that spot“, Washington does have some options.
One option that’s come up is Earl Clark, who was waived by the Philadelphia 76ers after getting traded from the Cleveland Cavaliers last night. Clark will clear waivers and he’ll become a free agent. Before signing with the Cavaliers this past summer, Clark had a ‘breakout’ season with the Los Angeles Lakers and received lots of interest from teams around the league. At 6’10”, Clark’s ability to defend and shoot from the outside makes him an intriguing player for teams trying to compete in the playoffs. Although he did struggle in Cleveland before getting traded yesterday, a lot of that could be chalked up to the Cavaliers’ overall poor success and inability to transition players to their new system. Jarrett Jack, Andrew Bynum, and Earl Clark have all struggled with the Cavaliers and they were all signed as free agents prior to the season. Coincidence?
Despite his struggles this season, I still think Clark could contribute in the right system. He averaged over 7 points and nearly 6 rebounds per game with the Lakers last season, and although those numbers aren’t spectacular by any means, it still shows his versatility on the court. Clark shot about 35% from three point territory with the Cavaliers, and at 6’10”, I think that could be useful for teams looking to get help from a “stretch four”. His percentages were also pretty impressive with the Lakers, as he shot over 50% from three with the Lakers in the month of January. His production skyrocketed for a few months, but he was unable to consistently put up those numbers on a struggling Los Angeles team.
Clark had played small forward for much of his time in Cleveland, but with Trevor Ariza, Martell Webster, and Otto Porter on the roster, he’d likely be playing power forward in Washington. He’s long and athletic enough to contribute defensively and I think he’d be an upgrade over a player like Al Harrington–who hasn’t been able to stay healthy this season. At the very least, he’d be available if an injury takes place and he could provide some outside shooting. I really think he’d benefit from playing with a player like John Wall that will inevitably find open shots for Clark. We’ve seen Wall revitalize the careers of Martell Webster and even Trevor Ariza, so why wouldn’t he be able to do the same with Clark?
Washington will likely sign a player to a 10-day contract from the Iowa Energy, but if you ask me, an Andre Miller & Earl Clark acquisition would be a lot more beneficial than having Eric Maynor & Jan Vesely occupy space on the bench for no reason.
So, should the Wizards ‘take a chance’ on Clark?