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The Case for Rasho Nesterovic

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If I've learned anything over the last few months, it's that a off-season rumor's sexiness is inversely proportional to its likelihood of actually happening.  If you don't believe me, look no further than our most recent trade.  Players like Amare Stoudemire, Manu Ginobili, and Jason Terry were all floated as players who could come to Washington in exchange for the #5 pick and other assets.  Yet at the end of the day, we ended up with Randy Foye and Mike Miller.  It's a trade that makes the team better, but it lacks the buzz that landing one of those players would have brought.  But if we were truly honest with ourselves, I think that we would admit that those trades were more pipe dream than anything else.

We should look at this year's free agency crop the same way.  We already know that the super pipe dreams (Paul Millsap, David Lee, Carlos Boozer, etc.) are out of the picture because they'll get much more than the mid-level exception on the open market.  Keeping that in mind, the players that have been bounced around the most as potential targets in free-agency are Marcin Gortat and Zaza Pachulia.  Again, both of those guys are nice players, but I think they both fall under the category of pipe dreams since Abe probably doesn't want to pony up most or all of the MLE on a backup big man. 

Once you take those guys out of the equation, you're left with a smattering of veteran and D-League players who can come in and fill out the team's front court rotation.  As you can tell from the title, there's one player that stands out to me more than anyone else: Rasho Nesterovic.  Here's my reasoning:

  1. He can defend other centers:  Without Haywood in the lineup last year, centers pounded away last season.  His return will help with that, but having another big who can slow the big guys down wouldn't hurt.  At 7 ft. tall and 248 lbs., Rasho has a little more bulk than McGee and Blatche, which would come in handy when Brendan needs a breather and the Wizards are going up against the bigger centers in the league.  Opposing centers has a PER of 16.5 against him last season, compared with 18.3 for Andray and 23.3 for JaVale McGee.
  2. He can take on some of Darius Songaia's roles: Aside from his grit and Songaila was valuable because he was a big that could stretch the floor by knocking down open shots off the pick and pop and he was a solid passer.  Rasho's jumper isn't quite as automatic as Songaila's, but it's good enough to make opposing teams respect it and he averaged more assists per 36 than Darius.
  3. Familiarity with Flip Saunders: Rasho spent his first five seasons in the NBA in Minnesota with Flip Saunders where he became a very dependable sidekick alongside Kevin Garnett.  As Flip begins his first season in Washington, it would probably be a good idea to have someone on the roster who already knows the system.  Not only does that mean he'll have one less player to teach the system to, but it also in effect gives him another assistant who can teach guys like McGee and Blatche the little nuances of Flip's offensive and defensive sets.

Signing Rasho Nesterovic won't bring in the headlines that signing Paul Millsap or Marcin Gortat would, but he's a more realistic option who could help out for a decent price.  It's not a sexy move, but he fits the team's needs and direction.  Don't be shocked if you see him in Washington next season.