Al Harrington, Drew Gooden and Garrett Temple, all free agents, told Dan Steinberg that they want to remain in D.C. for next season. The interview happened earlier in June when the three took part in Sportscaster U., a program sponsored by the NBA Players Union.
While Harrington has said that he wants to play for the Wizards this fall, his health is another issue:
Right now, I think I want to play, but my body’s going to tell me the story. As the summer goes along, I guess the Wizards will give me a deadline of letting them know….I don’t see myself playing anywhere else. I like what’s going on there, I like the environment. The cast of players we have there is perfect for me to be around.
Gooden will stay at his residence in North Bethesda for the summer. He also talked about the positive culture during his time with the team:
I have a comfort level there like no other right now. I can’t see myself wanting to go play with another team, to prove myself again for another coach in another organization, doing all those things again. I feel like what we did last year and the potential of what we could build on, I think that’s something I want to be a part of.
In addition, Gooden praised the Wizards' decision to retain Randy Wittman:
These are the steps you have to take to keep that nucleus together to be successful in years to come. I mean, that definitely played a big role in my decision if I was either going to come back to D.C. or not. There was a comfort level playing for these guys, playing for Randy. That makes my decision a lot easier.
Last, but not least, Temple gave the same sentiments that Harrington and Gooden gave:
We have a good atmosphere, and they brought back [Randy Wittman], which was great. We have a chance to make an impact in the East, and I’d love to be part of that.
None of the three players said anything that was totally newsworthy. Since they are all free agents, saying anything unflattering about the Wizards could haunt them in future contract negotiations. After all, other teams may be weary about signing role players who badmouth them.
At the same time, the Wizards' rebuild was centered around changing the locker room culture. If nothing else, the culture seems changed for the better.