By Dave Johnson
The games won’t start to count in the NBA standings until the end of October, but when analyzing the Washington Wizards it’s hard not to keep score in this off season. The summer of progress for the Wizards continued with the signing of free agent Al Harrington.
Harrington was not working from a script, but after inking a one year deal with the Wizards he said all the right things. He was sincere. About to enter his 16th NBA season Harrington had other options. A staph infection from routine knee surgery limited Harrington to ten games with Orlando last season, but at 33 years of age he is eager to get back on the court and lead.
An opportunity to play in Washington was part of the attraction of coming to the Wizards. Harrington said in some ways he feels “he has to prove himself again.” It doesn’t bother him. Harrington embraces the challenge and noted that for the first time since he has been in the NBA he has not taken a vacation. It’s been the gym, the gym, and more of the gym this summer for Harrington.
Playing time piqued Harrington’s interest in the Wizards and his desire to come here was cemented by positive feedback. After talking to his former Denver Nuggets’ teammate Nene, Harrington grew excited about the prospect of a leadership role on the team.
“I talked to Nene, called John (Wall) and talked to Trevor (Ariza) before coming here,” Harrington said. It was all good things. They all feel like this is an organization (Wizards) that does everything it can to put them in a position to be successful. Hearing that definitely made me want to be here.”
From the outside there is a belief that the Wizards have what it takes on the inside to become a contender in the Eastern Conference. The Wizards' approach last season has made NBA observers and other players take notice. The finish to the season that turned a four-win start into a 29-win campaign helped the Wizards develop a reputation as a tough team to play against.
Harrington is eager to get started. Over his career Harrington has averaged over 13 points per game and can play the pick-and-pop game to help open up precious space on the floor for John Wall. Make no mistake the attraction of playing with Wall also helped sway Harrington’s decision.
It’s still summer and the work has to be done on the court. The culture of the Wizards has changed and Harrington first perfectly into the team’s plans that should yield results in the form of playoffs.
I leave you with this fun fact:
Harrington loves playing at Verizon Center. In his 15-year career Harrington converted nearly 50 percent of his three-point attempts on F Street. In the last three games he played on the Wizards home court, Harrington hit 16 three-pointers and averaged 29 points.