After scouring the open market amid tepid interest for the second straight summer, DeJuan Blair is headed to Washington. The Wizards and Blair agreed on a contract, which was made via a sign-and-trade with the Dallas Mavericks, according to ESPN's Marc Stein:
Dallas acquired the rights to Emir Preldzic, a 2009 second-round draft pick, in exchange for Blair.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports provides the terms of the agreement:
The Wizards official website confirmed the trade and released a statement:
Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced today that the team has acquired center DeJuan Blair from Dallas. Washington will send Dallas the rights to Emir Preldzic, a 2009 second round draft pick, who was acquired in the three-team Antawn Jamison trade in February of 2010.
"DEJUAN GIVES US A TOUGH INSIDE PRESENCE WHO CAN SCORE AND REBOUND AT BOTH FRONTCOURT POSITIONS," SAID GRUNFELD. "HIS ADDITION MAKES OUR BENCH EVEN DEEPER AND WILL ALLOW US TO BE FLEXIBLE WITH OUR LINEUPS."
The newest member of the Wizards later tweeted out his excitement:
Blair, 25, played one season in Dallas after spending his first four with San Antonio. He averaged 6.4 points and 4.7 rebounds in 15.6 minutes per game, providing a necessary spark down low in his limited minutes.
The Mavericks had expressed interest in bringing Blair back earlier in the free-agent process. However, their massive offer to Chandler Parsons, trade for Tyson Chandler and other minor signings left them with little wiggle room. Dallas was only able and willing to offer a minimum-salaried deal, something neither Blair nor his representation thought was fair based on his per-minute production.
The Wizards were aggressive in their pursuit of Blair, and recent reports indicated a sign-and-trade was in the works. Stein broke the sign-and-trade talks, which were viewed as a good-faith move on Dallas' part. By agreeing with the Mavericks and then being traded, Blair lands a better contract while Dallas gets a minor trade exception.
It's also worth noting that Parsons and Blair are represented by the same agent, Dan Fegan. These quid pro quos are nothing new in the NBA, and it helps that the Wizards have pushed hard for Blair in recent days.
Brandon Parker of The Washington Post weighed in on how Blair impacts the Wizards:
In Blair, the Wizards add another piece to what's become a deep, experienced bench heavy on front-court support, including Humphries and Drew Gooden, who was brought back on a one-year deal Tuesday. Drafted out of Pittsburgh by the San Antonio Spurs with the No. 37 pick in 2009, Blair has developed into a dependable and physical post presence in five seasons with the Spurs and Mavericks, though he is far from swift after undergoing major surgery on both knees.
One of Washington's biggest weaknesses last season was front-line help behind Marcin Gortat and Nene. Kevin Seraphin, a first-round pick in 2010, is a restricted free agent and hasn't developed the way president Ernie Grunfeld had hoped. The acquisition of Kris Humphries and Blair might spell the end of Seraphin in Washington.
The Wizards should be about tapped out on the open market. Forward Trevor Ariza's departure left a gap on the wing that will be filled by Paul Pierce, second-year player Otto Porter and Martell Webster. Pierce signed for the mid-level exception, and the Wizards used their biannual exception on Eric Maynor last year. A sign-and-trade was the only way Blair could land a representative salary.
From a pure numbers standpoint, Blair always stands out as an under-the-radar steal. Playing on a minimum salary last season, he averaged 14.7 points and 10.9 rebounds per 36 minutes while making 53.4 percent of his shots. Those numbers are right in line with what Blair has produced since leaving Pittsburgh in 2009, and at age 25, he still has plenty of prime years left in the tank.
With Blair, though, it's never been about production. One of the most dominant bigs in college basketball as a Panther, he slipped to the second round after it was revealed he was without ACLs in both of his legs. Coupled with his size and inability to stretch the floor, risk-averse executives have tended to shy away to long-term commitments.
The Spurs churned out four years of solid production, intermittently as a starter and reserve, on a second-round contract. When he went to the Mavs, Rick Carlisle used him as an offensive spark plug off the bench. In Dallas' sensational seven-game series against Blair's old team, his 12-point, 11-rebound performance in Game 4 nearly pushed the Mavericks to a 3-1 series lead.
Blair's actions in that 16th minute—kicking Tiago Splitter—arguably changed the entire playoff outlook. San Antonio came away with a hard-fought win, Blair was suspended for Game 5, and the eventual champs took it in seven games.
"He just said, 'Way to hand it to us,'" Blair recalled Spurs coach Gregg Popovich telling him after Game 7, per the Mavs' official website. "He said, 'Way to hand it to us in our rear end.' That's what he said. ... I still have respect for all of them, but it didn't work out (in San Antonio), so I had to go somewhere else. It was a fun series. I had a good time."
Blair should again find success as a rebounder and finisher near the rim in Washington. Defense will always be a struggle because of his size and lack of athleticism, as teams have long run him through a series of pick-and-rolls when he's on the floor. While strong, Blair is also susceptible to being shot over in the post against most NBA centers.
These are the costs versus the benefits with him. For his career, his teams are more than two points better per 100 possessions defensively when he sits, per Basketball-Reference. Nene and Gortat are both solid defenders who can mask some of those deficiencies when playing with Blair, but the Wiz made the playoffs on the back of their defense last season.
Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.
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