Wizards call on Tristan Vukcevic for rebounding help after loss in Memphis

Partizan Mozzart Bet Belgrade v Ldlc Asvel Villeurbanne - 2023/2024 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague
Partizan Mozzart Bet Belgrade v Ldlc Asvel Villeurbanne - 2023/2024 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague / Nikola Krstic/MB Media/GettyImages

On Tuesday, the Washington Wizards were welcomed in by the Memphis Grizzlies for the second game of a two-game season series at the FedEx Forum. The Wizards entered the game as winners of the team's previous two games, beginning a four-game road trip with a surprising win over the Miami Heat.

For a second consecutive contest, the Wizards went to battle without Marvin Bagley III and Richaun Holmes, Washington's two true centers. In their absence, interim coach turned to Kyle Kuzma as the Wizards' small-ball five, giving up size in exchange for Kuzma's ability to stretch the floor.

In Miami, the Heat out-rebounded the Wizards by 10 on the offensive glass, a glaring issue that Washington smothered with strong three-point shooting. However, against the Grizzlies, the issue persisted, as Memphis snagged 17 offensive rebounds, 13 more than Washington. The efficient shooting that had once snuffed out the Wizards' size disadvantage was gone, leading to a 109-97 Grizzlies win.

Wizards reach for 2023 draft-and-stash prospect

During Will Dawkins' first NBA Draft in the District, the Wizards' new general manager selected 7'0" center Tristan Vukcevic with the 42nd overall pick. Having celebrated his 21st birthday on Monday, Vukcevic is a young prospect the Wizards opted to have spend additional time overseas in Serbia playing for Partizan Belgrade. In 14 ABA appearances, Vukcevic has averaged 10.9 points in 18.9 minutes per game, knocking down an impressive 44 percent of his three-point attempts.

Vukcevic's buyout was announced directly by Partizan Belgrade's president, Ostoja Mijailovic, in a post on Twitter. According to Mijailovic, the buyout clause in the center's deal is worth seven figures and will be paid out between Partizan Belgrade and Real Madrid.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Vukcevic's buyout from his Serbian club is expected to result in a two-year deal with the Wizards. R.J. Hampton's 10-day contract with Washington expired Tuesday night, opening a roster spot for the 21-year-old center to begin his career in the United States without a stop in the G League.

Immediately upon joining the team, Vukcevic will be Washington's tallest active player. Bagley, the team's usual starting center, stands 6'10". The acquisition will provide an additional option for the Wizards at center and allow the team to begin the rookie's physical preparation for NBA-level basketball.