Wake-up call: Wizards hold 15th spot open for Al Harrington

Wake-up call: Wizards hold 15th spot open for Al Harrington
July 24, 2014, 6:00 am
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As stated here previously, the Wizards aren't in any rush to fill their 15th and final roster spot because training camp still is almost two full months away. But it appears, based on what CSNwashington.com has learned since Las Vegas summer league, that it will be for Al Harrington's taking.

Harrington helped coach the summer league team to the tournament semifinals. In his first season with Washington last year, signing as a free agent, Harrington missed 47 games because of a troublesome right knee that required surgery in December. 

When he was healthy, Harrington showed why he could be so valuable. He was able to beat his man off the dribble, back him down on the low block and later in the season the three-point stroke of the stretch power forward made appearances, too.

Still, it wasn't an ideal fit because of health issues. Harrington had surgery on his left shoulder after the season ended but is trim and already in shape. How Harrington feels after he goes through the daily grind of playing basketball will determine what happens next.

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The Wizards could go into the 2014-15 season with the 15th spot open and wait to make a decision. Harrington, an unrestricted free agent who'd be paid the veteran minimum of $1.448 million, could join the team later on a pro-rated salary.

While they could probably use another guard who can play both positions, such a free agent is unlikely to be found at this point at the minimum. 

Harrington's affinity for the Wizards isn't a secret, and vice versa. And after losing Trevor Ariza in free agency, the Wizards having Harrington's voice in the locker room alone might be worth the roster spot. It doesn't show up on the stat sheet -- much like what Andre Miller has been for John Wall -- but they realize it matters. When the Wizards were struggling to find their footing, it was Ariza and Harrington as primary leaders in the locker room who kept them focused.

Just before the All-Star break, it was Harrington who called out the roster for being self-destructive. On Feb. 8: "Our weakest thing at this point is our mental toughness. We lock in for the good teams and then we allow these teams that are sub-par and we just relax."

The Wizards didn't fragment as a result which is why a strong locker room is required (see how the Cleveland Cavaliers responded when players who lacked leadership tried a similar tact and keeping it real went wrong between Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters). Harrington never tried to walk back his remarks. In fact, Marcin Gortat co-signed as Harrington did his best to coach from the bench. Nene even responded to his tutelage. The Wizards pulled it together to grab the No. 5 seed.

As CSNwashington.com was told almost two weeks ago, Harrington intends on playing a 17th season. The Wizards likely won't move on until they have a final answer.