The Washington Wizards conducted 'Day 5' of Training Camp Wednesday night at George Mason University's Patriot Center, in Fairfax, Virginia. Despite injuries and near-injuries to several on the roster--including Emeka Okafor (neck), Chris Singleton (foot), Trevor Booker (knee), Trevor Ariza (calf), Nene (foot), and rookie Otto Porter (hip)--Washington has survived their stay in Northern Virginia.
"Al (Harrington) was invaluable these five days in terms of what he brought to us," said Wizards Head Coach Randy Wittman after Wednesday's practice. "Not really so much on the floor than he did his leadership, in helping these guys, and mentoring these guys. Here's a guy, 15 years in the league, who was out here every day." On Day 1, news broke regarding Porter's hip. Then Sunday, the next day, it was Booker's sore knee. Monday it was Kevin Seraphin coming down on Nene's foot, and Tuesday Ariza sat out due to a minor calf injury he suffered the day prior. Harrington, however, has remained strong, despite being the oldest player on Washington's roster at 33-years-old--and despite meeting some unusual circumstances during camp.
"You got guys like Pops (Mensah-Bonsu), who just--I mean, one time we were at the free throw line, and he was in a football stance. I've never seen that before," laughed Harrington after "Day 2," regarding the physical nature of camp. "They get after it, and there's a lot of banging in there and stuff like that. I'm just trying to keep my man on the floor. I ain't even jumping at this point, so I keep him down."
Harrington gives Washington a stretch-forward, and possibly a small-ball center, a position the 15-year-pro doesn't mind given his previous role at anchor. "I try to let Kevin battle, and I battle Jan. I lost too much weight, I need to put on more weight to bang with these guys," laughed Harrington, regarding possible five-play.
"When I played for Golden State six years ago I played a lot of center there, and that was when Yao was in the league, and Shaq. I mean, I had to guard them. I'll never forget, every time I had to guard Yao I wouldn't be able to move the next day. I'd have practice the next day and I'd always get it off because I couldn't move," laughed Harrington. "I used to just front him. So he used to beat me on the back the whole game."
Over a half-decade later, Harrington might not be the best fit as a fast break center. He does, however, have experience playing with Nene (2010-11, Denver Nuggets), three-point range--no one else is going to have that at his position--and the good humor to battle it out should Washington decide to go with the veteran. Other choices will include Jan Vesely, Kevin Seraphin, or even Trevor Booker, should he remain healthy this season.
Edit (4:53 pm ET, Thursday): The Wizards are done with Mason and will return to the Verizon Center this Friday with a 6:00 p.m. ET practice event. Washington Wizards Examiner apologizes for any confusion.
Fans will have a chance to see the 2013-14 Wizards squad at Verizon Center. Following the open practice, there will be a question-and- answer session with the new players on the team. Scheduled to appear are: Al Harrington, Eric Maynor, Glen Rice and Otto Porter. The event is free and open to the public.
In addition to the open practice, fans will have a chance to sign up their kids for the Wizards Kids Club, which grants children ages 3-14 access to special events throughout the season.
Rookie Porter will likely be sidelined for any scrimmage type play, and it's questionable as to whether Booker will play at that capacity. But for the fans, the John Wall, Bradley Beal backcourt should be enough to satisfy, after a late 2012-13 start for the former and a bitter ending for the latter. More on Beal--or Beal 2.0--to come.