Remember yesterday when we told you that five key Washington Wizards were done for the rest of the season? (Of course you do, you commit every story here to memory. What else have you got to do?)
That leaves nine guys on the Wizards roster — a roster that has won three in a row now. Except, that’s really seven guys because Kevin Seraphin and Mustafa Shakur don’t really see the court.
So the Wizards are going to bring someone in, a story Scott Schroeder at Ridiculous Upside broke and was confirmed by Michael Lee at the Washington Post.
According to a source with knowledge of the situation, the Wizards will look to sign Larry Owens from the NBA Development League. Owens, a 6-foot-7 forward, averaged 12.4 points and 5.0 rebounds with the Tulsa 76ers and also scored a total of nine points in seven games for the San Antonio Spurs this season.
The Wizards also plan to sign Othyus Jeffers for the rest of the season, according to Ridiculous Upside.
Good news for Owens and Jeffers, who has earned the cup of coffee in the bigs.
Bad news for someone on the Wizards because someone has to be cut to make room for Owens. That probably will be Cartier Martin, Lee suggests. Martin is done for the season with a fracture in his foot.
The D-League Showcase is in the books, and while Larry Owens was the first NBA call-up following the conclusion of the Showcase, more are sure to follow. Additionally, those who don’t see an NBA opening as imminent may take on more lucrative contract elsewhere, as the D-League currently offers only a meager paycheck.
Case(s) in-point: Maine’s Paul Harris and Reno’s D.J. Strawberry (formerly of the Phoenix Suns), both of whom have skipped out on the D to generate some additional income. From Scott Schroeder of NBA FanHouse:
Already this week, Maine Red Claws wing Paul Harris and Reno Bighorns guard D.J. Strawberry…have bought out their D-League contracts — a fee of $35,000 to $45,000 depending on the type of contract they signed — to play for larger salaries in the Philippines and Lithuania, respectively. While an NBA call-up was surely on both players’ minds going into the season, the fact that both were relegated to sixth-man duty thus far in the D-League caused them to seek a steadier income. After all, during a season that’s currently on pace for the least amount of call-ups all time, it’d be quite the feat to make the NBA after not even earning starter’s minutes in the D-League.
That last point is a particularly important one. There isn’t room for every prospect to get a proper chance to showcase their abilities in the D-League, particularly if teams are stacked at certain positions. Just like in the NBA or in any other league, there are minute crunches and system issues that would preclude even the more capable prospects from really demonstrating their abilities. As useful as the D-League is for players and teams alike, it’s not some magical fantasy land where every prospect and assignee can frolick through fields and gobble up minutes by the handful. As is the case with any team, someone has to start, and someone has to sit on the bench.
It’s not likely that NBA teams would target D-League reserves to be called up, which puts players like Harris and Strawberry — both sixth men, as Schroeder noted — in a peculiar situation. The D-League may be the best avenue to the NBA, but if a starting spot isn’t within grasp then players may be better served cashing in for any team willing to pay them top dollar…even if in Harris’ case it’s the “Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters.”
UPDATE (9:10 EST): Scott Schroeder of NBA FanHouse and Ridiculous Upside offered his take on the Spurs’ situation:
[For what it’s worth], I’ve been told Spurs haven’t decided on Larry Owens for sure. It’s pretty likely, but not confirmed by anyone. Yet.
7:25 EST: Zabian Dowdell scored the honor of being the first D-League call-up of the season almost a week ago, but Larry Owens may not be far behind. According to Jonathan Givony of Draft Express, Owens could soon be called up by the San Antonio Spurs, making Owens the first call-up following the D-League Showcase.
San Antonio is among the most embedded NBA teams in terms of the D-League relations. They operate their very own D-League affiliate, the Austin Toros, and have been pretty creative in retaining talent in order to use the Toros as a true farm team. Owens himself isn’t a member of the Toros (he plays for the Thunder-affiliated Tulsa 66ers), but the Spurs clearly have an understanding of the value of the D-League as a resource and a player pool, and could be dipping in soon to offer Owens a 10-day contract.
Owens should fit right at home in San Antonio, tucked away in the corner to fire away from three-point range. He’s made 37.7% of his three-point attempts during his two-year D-League career, and an impressive 46.4% mark from long range during last season’s D-League playoffs (during which Owens led the 66ers all the way to the D-League Finals). On top of that, Owens is a solid positional rebounder and a long defender, making him a suitable complement for the Spurs’ array of talented players. Owens won’t play much if at all, but he certainly fits the San Antonio mold of the role-player-in-waiting, ready to step in and contribute at the first sign of injury trouble.