Trevor Booker Out, Kris Humphries In: Wizards Find a Different Recipe
Trevor Booker has agreed to join the Utah Jazz, reportedly for two years and $10 million (via Yahoo! Sports). Booker departs Washington after four seasons and countless bowls of cereal.
The Wizards traded up in the 2010 draft to select Booker 23rd overall, sending picks 30 and 35 to Minnesota in exchange for 23 and 56 (Hamady N’diaye). In Washington, the lefty from Clemson developed a reputation for hustle and athleticism; he started in 105 out of 235 total games with the team.
There were times when Booker was exposed for being an undersized power forward, but slowly he developed a jumper, leading the Wizards in field goal percentage from 10-to-16 feet last season (.457). Booker finished third on the team in total rebounds per 100 possessions (12.6) after Marcin Gortat and Drew Gooden (14.9). His 4.9 offensive rebounds per 100 possessions led the Wizards in 2013-14 (not counting Jan Vesely).
Once it was discovered that Trevor Ariza was choosing the Houston Rockets, the Washington Wizards advanced discussions to re-sign Trevor Booker in order to fill up the cap space needed to use the midlevel exception on Paul Pierce. Per the Washington Post’s Michael Lee, the Wizards added Pierce to their radar and started sending out feelers late last week as Ariza’s return grew increasingly uncertain. Pierce decided to join the Wizards after a push that included a phone call from Sam Cassell, text messages from various Wizards players, and a chance run-in at a boxing match in Las Vegas, Lee reports. Pierce has agreed to sign for the midlevel exception at two-years and $11 million, but nothing has been made official.
Despite efforts after the Ariza and Pierce news, the Wizards and Booker continued to be apart in terms of contract dollars. Washington declined to extend Booker the qualifying offer (QO) of $4.7 million, which escalated from $3.4 million after Booker met the CBA’s “starter criteria,” a stipulation that increases the QO amount if a player starts 41 games or plays at least 2,000 minutes. Because of an injury to Nene last season, Booker started 45 games and played 1,553 total minutes.
The Utah Jazz, with about $54 million in salary on the books prior to the Booker signing (per Sham Sports), needed to spend more money in order to surpass the league’s minimum salary cap figure of $56.7 million. Booker will provide veteran depth to a frontline that currently includes Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Jeremy Evans, and Rudy Gobert.
The Wizards have moved quickly to fill Booker’s roster spot by signing Kris Humphries to a three-year, $13 million deal—the third year is said to be a team option. Yahoo! omnipresence Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Wizards will trade a protected second-round pick and part of the $8.5 million trade exception that they received for taking part in a three-team deal that sent Ariza to Houston and Melvin Ely’s unguaranteed contract to Washington (from New Orleans). The Pelicans, in that previous deal, will also receive Omer Asik, Omri Casspi, and cash considerations from Houston while sending Alonzo Gee, Scotty Hopson, and a 2015 first round pick to the Rockets in return. Humphries will make $4.3 million in the first year of his deal, about $700,000 less than Booker.
The 6-foot-9 Humphries will turn 30 next February and has 10 years of NBA experience. Drafted by the Jazz 14th overall in 2004, he has
spent time with Utah, Toronto, Dallas (where he teamed with Drew Gooden), New Jersey (and later Brooklyn), and last year, Boston. Humphries was among the players Brooklyn traded to acquire Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
Humphries brings more size and rebounding to the Wizards, especially as an insurance policy for Nene, and is someone who can play center behind Gortat. His total rebound percentage of 16.9 last season, the fifth-best mark of his career, would have led the Wizards. Humphries also shot .813 for the free throw line last season, besting his career average of .686, as well as marks in 2012-13 (.789) and 2011-12 (.752). Booker shot .618 from the charity stripe last season, a shade above his .617 career mark.
Humphries has also improved his midrange shot over his career, sinking .426 of his attempts from 10-to-16 feet last season (career average of .361). The .426 rate would have been tops on the Wizards in 2013-14, aside from Booker’s .457. Humphries also shot .479 from 16 feet to inside the 3-point line. Only Drew Gooden was better from that distance (.529) on the Wizards; Nene shot .467.
Speaking of Gooden, as expected, the Wizards will bring him back for a one-year deal (per CSN’s Chris Miller). After being amnestied by the Milwaukee Bucks last summer, Gooden is still owed $7.4 million from them next season. The Wizards will likely pay Gooden the minimum, as they did last year, since that amount is subtracted from what the Bucks must pay.
It remains to be seen how these moves will affect previously reported efforts to acquire DeJuan Blair—a 6-foot-7 tweener like Booker—in a sign-and-trade from the Dallas Mavericks, or the situation with Kevin Seraphin, who was extended the qualifying offer. Seraphin can either accept the QO of $3.9 million to play with the Wizards on a one-year contract before becoming an unrestricted free agent next summer, seek an offer sheet with another team (which the Wizards would have to decide to match or not), sign a new deal with Washington, or, the Wizards
could rescind the QO by July 23 if Seraphin has not accepted, making him an unrestricted free agent.
UPDATE: The move for Humphries did not affect efforts to get DeJaun Blair, who has officially been traded to the Wizards for the rights to 2009 draft pick Emir Preldzic, who was acquired in the trade that sent Antawn Jamison to Cleveland. The status of Kevin Seraphin remains to be seen, but his qualifying offer could now be too expensive for the Wizards.