Kevin Seraphin: Will Remain A Wizard, Will Sit Out FIBA World Cup Due to Knee Surgery
Last week it was reported that Kevin Seraphin had signed the qualifying offer for a one-year deal worth $3.89 million that the Washington Wizards previously extended to him. This would keep the 2010 draft pick (17th overall) on Washington’s roster for a fifth season before he becomes an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2015.
Once the Wizards extended Seraphin the qualifying offer in late-June, he became a restricted free agent, but could not find an offer sheet situation with another team (that the Wizards would have then had to decide to match). Seraphin simply accepted the one-year contract, and Washington won by maintaining flexibility by not signing him to a longer contract.
Today, it is being reported on FIBA’s website that Seraphin will not play with Team France (“Les Bleus”) at the FIBA World Cup in Spain this summer, because he has not “fully recovered from arthroscopy surgery on his knee” and that the Wizards would not clear him to play. France will also be without center Alexis Ajinça, Joakim Noah, and Tony Parker this summer.
Seraphin missed time last December, as well as in late-February/early-March, with soreness in his right knee—the former was reported as swelling and the latter as a bone bruise. According to a person with knowledge of the situation, Seraphin had knee surgery (a scope) to clean it out at the end of the 2013-14 season and should be ready for training camp in October. Prior to being drafted into the NBA, Seraphin had injured his left knee during the French League playoffs and was limited in his ability to work out for NBA teams.
When Seraphin signed the qualifying offer (and when the Wizards did not retract it before the July 23 deadline), it was considered a curious move considering the depth Washington had thus far built in the frontcourt. With Nene already set to return, Washington signed Marcin Gortat and Drew Gooden to new contracts and also acquired Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair. Al Harrington, more a stretch 4 and not a true big like the others, could also return to Washington’s roster at some point, as reported by CSN’s J. Michael.
But per a source familiar with the Wizards’ thinking, depth in the paint was a concern, especially considering the injury history of Nene as well as the ages of the other bigs—Gortat, 30; Gooden, 32; Humphries, 30 next February; and Blair, who is only 25 but doesn’t (and will never) have ACLs in his knees.
Seraphin has flashed unteachable offensive talent while in Washington. Not many young bigs have a soft touch on their midrange jumper while possessing the acumen to score close to the basket with either hand. Seraphin has been one of the most efficient players in the NBA over the past two seasons when it comes to hook shots within six feet of the basket. He shot 15-for-19 on such shots in 2013-14 and 44-for-55 in 2012-13, which led the NBA, percentage-wise, amongst those with 10 or more attempts.
Seraphin, however, has frustrated his coaches with defensive lapses and has been slow to improve in that area. His Defensive Real Plus-Minus (DRPM) ranked 37th among NBA centers last season, tying him with Nazr Mohammed; his Offensive Real Plus-Minus (ORPM) ranked 75th. Seraphin, however, has been decent at blocking shots. His 2.3 blocks per 100 possessions last season tied Gortat for the team lead.
Seraphin has also been known to be a black hole on offense—despite at times displaying capable passing skills. Veteran teams, such as the Boston Celtics when they had Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, have been know to run double-teams at Seraphin when he has the ball—even though such was outside of their normal scheme—because of his propensity to commit turnovers. Seraphin’s dedication to staying in shape has also been questioned during his tenure in Washington.
The Wizards, in particular with no other young big men in the pipeline, clearly see a player worth continuing to invest in—at least for one more season. The franchise has already dedicated resources to developing Seraphin for the last four years. Seraphin did not participate with France at last summer’s EuroBasket tournament in order to continue developing with the Wizards staff.
Seraphin had a promising 2011-12 sophomore season in which he fielded a 15.8 PER, .549 True Shooting Percentage (TS%), and 13.4 Total Rebounding Rate (TRB%) over 57 games. He took a significant step back in his third season with a PER of 10.3, TS% of .478, and TRB% of 11.1 over 79 games. He slightly bounced back last season with a PER of 12.5, TS% of .533, and TRB% of 12.8, but played a career-low 578 minutes (over 53 games).
Next season could be Seraphin’s last chance to make an impression upon the NBA and show that he is serious about playing professional basketball. Sitting out to recover, even if it leaves Team France in a scramble after they pressed him to play, is the wisest choice he could make at this point.