More Veterans, Please: Wizards Add John Lucas III to Well-Aged Stable | Wizards Blog Truth About

More Veterans, Please: Wizards Add John Lucas III to Well-Aged Stable

Updated: October 21, 2014

[original art via VFW Florida]

[original art via VFW Florida]

More veterans, please.

Between John Wall’s lingering knee tendinitis, Bradley Beal’s wrist injury, Andre Miller’s age, Glen Rice’s ankle injury, Garrett Temple’s limitations, and a general discomfort with turning to someone like Xavier Silas as a ball-handing option, the Washington Wizards have signed NBA veteran John Lucas III. Lucas left Oklahoma State in 2005 and has spent portions of seven season in the NBA, appearing in 216 games (seven playoff games) with four different franchises. Lucas spent the better parts of 2007 to 2010 playing abroad and in the D-League, but filled in nicely for an injured Derrick Rose in Chicago at the very end of 2010-11 and into 2011-12.

He parlayed that and his ability to score in bunches off the bench into one-year contracts with Toronto and Utah in 2012-13 and 2013-14. This summer, however, Lucas and his non-guaranteed contract were involved in a couple of trades that resulted from the salary cap maneuvering of the Cleveland Cavaliers. He was traded to Cleveland from Utah in late-July and then from Cleveland to Boston in late-September. The Celtics waived him days later on September 25. Lucas’ latest contract with the Wizards is also non-guaranteed, per CSN’s J. Michael, who also relays that the decision to sign Lucas was made after the poor offensive showing on Monday night in Baltimore.

Lucas has been something of a Wizards killer, averaging 9.6 points in his five career games (one start) against the Wiz. That’s his highest scoring average against any team in the NBA. And his 3.0 assists per game are second only to the 3.4 dimes he dishes against Houston. Perhaps as a result, he’s had flirtations with the Wizards during his last two free agencies. Washington ultimately opted for cheaper options in Jannero Pargo and A.J. Price in 2012. Pargo lasted about two weeks and they let Price walk after the season. In 2013, Eric Maynor was pegged to be Wall’s primary backup, and thus came at a slightly higher cost. That project failed miserably and the Wizards ultimately gave up a second round pick just to send Maynor to Philadelphia in a trade that also packaged 2011 sixth overall pick Jan Vesely (now out of the NBA) to Denver for the 37-year-old Andre Miller.

Lucas will turn 32 years old on November 21 and is a career 34.7 percent shooter from long distance. He shot a career-high 39.3 percent in Chicago two seasons ago, 37.7 percent in 2012-13 with Toronto, and 29.8 percent last season in Utah. The most recent number obviously needs to resurge for Lucas to have utility for the Wizards. But if the midrange makes your ears tingle — and it does for Randy Wittman — Lucas shot 45.5 percent from 16-feet to inside the 3-point line last season with the Jazz, much better than his career 35 percent average from that range. His 45.5 percent would have been third-best on the Wizards last season — after Drew Gooden (.529) and Nene (.467) and tops among all guards/wings.

Lucas also tends to take care of the ball, certainly another factor considered by Wittman and Ernie Grunfeld. He averaged 2.0 turnovers (to 3.7 assists) per 100 possessions last season; that on top of career averages of 2.3 turnovers and 6.1 assists per 100 possessions. Only Trevor Booker and Martell Webster averaged less than 2.0 turnovers per 100 possessions last season with the Wizards. It may not be a coincidence that Wittman, in his postgame comments after Washington’s loss to the Pelicans last night, criticized his team’s carelessness with the basketball.

But aside from his prolificacy in the midrange and low turnover rate, Lucas’ status as a well-worn NBA veteran and willingness to come off the bench without anything to prove may have been just as important to Grunfeld and Wittman. Whereas Silas showed a penchant for chucking when given minutes, one assumes a journeyman like Lucas knows better. Either way, following a deal with Lucas, the Wizards will enter the season as the oldest team in the league, a marked change from the “youth movement” that so characterized Wizards teams at the outset of Wittman’s tenure.

Had it not been for the preseason injuries, the Wizards would have more closely considered a training camp invitee such as Silas, Rasual Butler, or Damion James, according to sources familiar with their thinking. Those same sources indicated that the Wizards also liked the idea of keeping the 15th roster spot open in the event that Ray Allen decided to play one more NBA season. But at this point, the need to kick off the 2014-15 campaign as strong as possible (and not 2-7 like last season) trumped other concerns. Instead, Washington gets probably one of the better and more affordable options on the market, and Lucas gets a chance to continue his NBA career with a contender. Perimeter defense has been a concern of the Wizards with the departure of Ariza, but the signing of Lucas is a strong indicator that offensive uncertainty, and 3-point shooting, are keeping Wizards brass awake at night.



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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.