- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 17, 2000

Stymied by a horrendous salary cap situation that has prevented them from being much of a player in free agency, the Washington Wizards have expressed interest in Los Angeles Clippers free agent forward Maurice Taylor, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

Before the free agency period began, Taylor was viewed as a second-level free agent just below Tim Duncan, Eddie Jones, Tracy McGrady and Jalen Rose. Had he signed with the Clippers before the season, the 6-foot-9 power forward would have been under contract for six years for approximately $63 million. However, Taylor, adamant about not returning to the Clippers, decided to test the market this summer and has not been successful thus far.

Several teams like Orlando, Indiana and most recently Toronto have expressed interest in Taylor. However, most of that interest appears to have dried up, and now Taylor is faced with the prospect of signing a contract for the $2.25 veteran mid-level exception with some team, possibly the Wizards.

Already over the salary cap for next season, the Wizards still have the mid-level exception available. Other teams said to have a strong interest in Taylor are Houston and Seattle.

Taylor led the Clippers in scoring last year for the second time in a row, averaging 17.1 points. He also averaged 6.5 rebounds.

Neither Taylor nor Wizards general manager Wes Unseld was available for comment yesterday. Calls to Taylor's agent, David Falk, were not returned.

If Taylor does sign with the Wizards, he would cause a logjam at power forward, where the team divided minutes last season between Juwan Howard and Mike Smith. However, this would be the type of problem the moribund Wizards no doubt would welcome.

On a related note, the Wizards got the signature of forward/center Gerard King on a contract late Tuesday night. King is believed to have signed a two-year deal that will pay him close to $525,000 in the first year.

King, 27, made the team last season as a free agent and wound up starting the final 28 games. King demonstrated his versatility by playing all three frontcourt positions, averaging 5.3 points and 4.0 rebounds. He is the fourth free agent the Wizards have re-signed.

The Wizards have lost a pair of power forwards to free agency, Don Reid signing with Orlando and Aaron Williams with New Jersey.

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