Sitting on seven straight losses and the worst 25-game record (3-22) in franchise history, the Wizards are so desperate for a spark that they are turning to the second-year, second-round draft pick they pushed out the door two months ago.
Before deciding whether signing Shelvin Mack from the NBA Development League this week, as is expected according to a league source, is pragmatic or the sign of a team devoid of options and ideas, consider his brief history in Washington.
Mack averaged 3.6 points and 2.0 assists in 64 games as a rookie last season after being selected out of Butler with the 34th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. In April, John Wall pleaded for a more experienced backup point guard to help guide him along.
The Wizards didn't listen and gave Mack a chance to keep the job during the Las Vegas Summer League. Mack couldn't do it. Though he was third on the team in scoring (11.0 points per game), he averaged more turnovers (3.4) than assists (2.4).
The Wizards then signed A.J. Price (who has merely one more year of experience than Wall). When Wall went down because of injury in September, they added shoot-first Jannero Pargo, dropping Mack to fourth on the depth chart after he had been second in July.
At the end of October, he was the final cut from the 15-player regular-season roster. The Wizards had a pressing need for Earl Barron at center with Nene injured, but even when Pargo was released two weeks later, the Wizards then went to Shaun Livingston over Mack, who struggled time and again to mesh with coach Randy Wittman.
Now Livingston hasn't worked out, waived last weekend after 17 games (four starts) along with Barron. Five days ago, both players started for the Wizards in a 90-83 loss at Orlando.
Meanwhile, Mack has averaged 20.2 points, 7.1 assists and 5.0 rebounds in 10 games for the Maine Red Claws. But with all due respect, the Wizards' two open roster spots could have been used to clear space for a splash in the trade market, perhaps the pursuit of Amar'e Stoudemire or even DeMarcus Cousins.
Instead, the Wizards have backtracked. Maybe that shouldn't be a surprise for a team that, three seasons into a rebuilding process, looks more directionless than ever.
- Craig Stouffer