Fra­zier ea­ger to learn from Wall

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY MATTHEW PARAS

Tim Fra­zier played against Wash­ing­ton Wiz­ards star John Wall in high school and later in the NBA, but now they’ll be team­mates. Fra­zier is the lat­est point guard the Wiz­ards ac­quired in the search to fill the void be­hind Wall.

“It’s awe­some. You get to play with (Wall and Bradley Beal) and I get to learn from John,” Fra­zier said. “I’ve been for­tu­nate to play with some good team­mates, great play­ers. I’ve been try­ing to take away as much as I can from them. Now, I get to take away from those guys. I’m ex­cited.”

Fra­zier was in­tro­duced Wed­nes­day a week af­ter the Wiz­ards ac­quired him from the New Or­leans Pel­i­cans in ex­change for the 52nd pick in the draft. Fra­zier is com­ing off a ca­reer-year in which he av­er­aged 23.5 min­utes per game and started in 35 games.

The 26-year-old point guard has spent three sea­sons in the NBA with three dif­fer­ent teams: the Pel­i­cans, the Port­land Trail Blaz­ers and the Philadel­phia 76ers. “(Wall) had a great year this year and I watched it,” Fra­zier said. “I just want to help the team get over the hump.”

For a cash-strapped fran­chise lim­ited in its abil­ity to make ros­ter moves, Fra­zier might be the most no­table ac­qui­si­tion the Wiz­ards make this sum­mer, out­side of tak­ing care of their own house­keep­ing. Wash­ing­ton’s pri­or­i­ties will be to re-sign re­stricted free agents Otto Porter and Bo­jan Bog­danovic.

NBA free agency be­gins at 11:59 p.m. Satur­day with teams al­lowed to talk to agents and ne­go­ti­ate deals.

Block­buster moves hap­pened all across the NBA on Wed­nes­day with the Los An­ge­les Clip­pers trad­ing Chris Paul to the Hous­ton Rock­ets and the New York Knicks agree­ing to part ways with team pres­i­dent Phil Jack­son.

The Paul trade came to­gether, ac­cord­ing to Ya­hoo’s Adrian Wo­j­narowski, be­cause Paul and Rock­ets star James Har­den got to­gether and were de­ter­mined to play along­side each other. Paul, set to be a free agent, let the Clip­pers know he would sign with the Rock­ets once free agency be­gan, so Los An­ge­les traded him to Hous­ton rather than lose him for noth­ing.

Like Paul and Har­den, Wall would like to have an­other su­per­star play­ing along­side him. He told ESPN’s Marc Spears at the NBA Awards show in New York on Mon­day that he was try­ing to re­cruit dis­grun­tled In­di­ana Pac­ers star Paul Ge­orge to the Wiz­ards.

“But at the end of the day, you al­ways have to get [elite play­ers],” Wall told Spears. “You have to go out swing­ing. You got to get a yes or a no.”

The Wiz­ards are likely to get a no. The Pac­ers would be un­der no obli­ga­tion to trade Ge­orge, who is un­der con­tract for an­other year, to the Wiz­ards and the only way for a deal to work is if the Pac­ers would be in­ter­ested in a sign-and-trade deal for Porter. Porter, though, could eas­ily kill any deal by sign­ing an of­fer sheet with an­other team.

Oth­er­wise, the Wiz­ards don’t have enough as­sets to en­tice the Pac­ers other than Wall and Beal, who are con­sid­ered un­touch­able.

Be­sides, Ge­orge re­port­edly has his eyes set on the Los An­ge­les Lak­ers once his con­tract ex­pires in 2018.

So, the Wiz­ards mak­ing a big splash this sum­mer is un­likely, un­less they trade some­one like Marcin Gor­tat to shed salary. In­stead, they will try to build off a 49-win team and a sec­ond-round play­off exit in­ter­nally.

The main ques­tion sur­round­ing the Wiz­ards is what Porter’s next con­tract will be. Since he’s a re­stricted free agent, it only takes one team to try and sign Porter to a max con­tract, worth as much as $24.75 mil­lion. Wash­ing­ton would have three days to match and it would put the Wiz­ards in a dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion. Porter, the third pick in the 2013 draft, had his best sea­son of his ca­reer last year, av­er­ag­ing 13.4 point­ers per game and shoot­ing 43.4 per­cent from deep.

The Wiz­ards, his­tor­i­cally, have tried to shy away from the NBA’s lux­ury tax, which pun­ishes teams for ex­ceed­ing a $119 mil­lion pay­roll. Wash­ing­ton, ac­cord­ing to Bas­ket­ball In­sid­ers, al­ready has nearly $92 mil­lion in guar­an­teed con­tracts for next sea­son and a max con­tract would take the Wiz­ards near that edge. That leaves re-sign­ing Bog­danovic a trick­ier propo­si­tion and there are ques­tions about what his mar­ket value will be, too.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The Wash­ing­ton Wiz­ards in­tro­duced former New Or­leans Pel­i­cans point guard Tim Fra­zier (left) on Wed­nes­day a week af­ter he was ac­quired to be John Wall’s backup.

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