The Washington Wizards haven't made the flashiest of moves this offseason but they continue to make solid ones. The signing of stretch forward Al Harrington earlier in the week gives Washington the spacing big man that point guard John Wall requested earlier this summer. Harrington, 33, barely played last season for the Orlando Magic as he recovered from a knee injury and staph infection that resulted from a surgical procedure on the same leg. But Harrington is only two seasons removed from a stellar season with the Denver Nuggets that saw him challenge for Sixth Man of the Year with averages of 14 points and six rebounds a game as a super sub. Apparently healthy and highly motivated, as noted by Harrington, Washington appears to be getting another veteran to help in their rebuilding process. But will it be enough to make them a playoff favorite? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk debate this question.
Green: The addition of Harrington instantly makes him the best player on the team behind Wall and Nene. The time for Washington to snap their playoff drought is now. There should be no excuses for the team to not venture into the six- through eight-seed range in what should be a wide-open race in the NBA Eastern Conference for those last few spots. Barring injury, this is a postseason caliber club that had better make some noise this season with several jobs and careers on the line. Perhaps one more pickup– George Karl at head coach–and this team would be set for postseason contention.
Riley: Harrington doesn't make this team any more playoff caliber than it was already with Wall, Nene and Bradley Beal at the forefront. Harrington is a nice addition but how much can you really expect from a 33-year-old coming off major surgery and a staph infection? I still think Trevor Ariza's contract is excellent trade bait to lure in a major piece in this retooling phase. If Ariza's contract can net that impact frontcourt player then how much of Harrington will we really see?
Green: I don't trust the brain trust in D.C. to even pull off such a maneuver as
turning Ariza into a glorified player. The Wizards should just stay in their lane and be happy with the acquisition of Harrington. Obviously he's not the player he used to be at this stage in his career but he's easily the best frontcourt option off the bench for Washington and I'm not sure how much that says about him or how little it says about the Wizards bench. Even on a loaded championship style team I think Harrington would get a lot of burn so questioning whether or not he would be an impact on a team that just selected third in the NBA draft is silly.
Riley: Well, I think it's silly to imply that adding Harrington leaves no room for error with the Wizards not making the postseason. Everything in D.C. centers around the health of Wall, Nene and the overall team pretty much. They're already set to roll out what should be one of the most potent perimeter attacks in Wall, Beal, Ariza, Martell Webster and Otto Porter. All Nene had to do was give them 70-plus games of health and solid production and they were walking into the postseason when next April rolls around. Harrington gives them better depth and quality then they had behind the starting bigs; but if either Wall, Beal or Nene goes down, it wouldn't matter who was coming off the bench for the team if their core players can't play.
Green: Obviously we're all banking on a healthy Wizards team but you can try to spin this if you want to but I trust Washington's roster a lot more now with Harrington than I did without him. Harrington is going to allow guys like Jan Vesley, Chris Singleton and Trevor Booker to not play, which automatically gives them addition by subtraction. Honestly, Vesely and Singleton shouldn't even be in the Association while Booker would be better suited as the fourth or fifth big off the bench rather than the first. Replacing those three with Harrington and Washington has effectively trimmed the dead weight off the roster and injected scoring, energy and competent play into an otherwise limp frontcourt rotation. If this Wizards team doesn’t make the playoffs, there would be only one person to blame and that’s their losing coach, Randy Wittman.