So remember how the Wizards were going to use any leftover money from the Gilbert Arenas contract to sign another small forward for cheap to back up the fragile Caron Butler? Yeah, what happened to that?
I suppose I'm on the fence as to whether it really matters that we didn't sign some backup small forward off the scrap heap for the minimum. It's not like we're talking about someone who will play a lot of minutes in the first place, after all. Also, if such player is a veteran, there's always the threat of Eddie Jordan playing him instead of the youngsters who offer far more production on the court.
Even so, there are players out there to sign, and Caron Butler could use all the reserve help possible to limit the workload he's carried in the past three seasons. In his three seasons with the Wizards, Butler has played in 36.1, 39.3 and 39.9 minutes per contest (the latter two being career-highs). In those same three years, Butler has played in 75, 63 and 58 games. I don't think that inverse proportionality is a coincidence. Yes, he's had some freak injuries like the broken hand, but Butler has also worn down considerably in the second halves of the last two seasons. His nagging hip problem, I think, could have been prevented if he played fewer minutes, though the team probably couldn't afford that without Gilbert Arenas around.
Who's out there? We've talked and debated Bonzi Wells, but I'm thinking the team is looking for someone who's less likely to rock the boat, as much as I wish otherwise. Quinton Ross is around; he has no offensive game, but he's a good defender and the Princeton combined with Dave Hopla tends to enhance offensive production for poor-shooting wings (see here). Kirk Snyder is another option and he could also push Nick Young a bit. Ditto for Fred Jones. Any one of those guys would be good to fill the final roster spot. Even if they barely play, it's another warm body that can be fully integrated into the Princeton from the start of the season.
I understand the front office's edict of not signing a 15th player, but I also think it's a little misguided. The worry is that they won't have the right roster flexibility if someone goes down to sign a replacement. To that, I say, hogwash. If the injury occurs before January, for example, the Wizards could just cut Dee Brown and his ungaranteed contract to free up the roster space. They could also just wave whatever small forward they pick up and eat the cost; it won't matter because the salary would put them under the luxury tax anyway. Lots of teams keep 15 on the roster and find a way to make things work just fine.
I'm not going to be that guy who makes the definitive connection between last year's injuries and the fact that we only carried 13 players, but I also think it makes no sense to leave a roster spot open just for "flexibility." That last roster spot could fill a definite need; a backup for Butler that could preserve his health for later in the season. It's not going to break our season, but it's still somewhat disappointing.