- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 26, 2001

As anticipated, the Washington Wizards yesterday waived power forward and District native Michael Smith.

To do so, the Wizards paid Smith, 29, a $250,000 buyout. However, this benefits the team in that it chops $2.15 million from the payroll and moves the Wizards away from the projected luxury tax level of about $53.4 million at the end of the season. Teams over that figure will pay a dollar-for-dollar rate for exceeding it. Had Smith not been waived, the Wizards would have owed him $2.4 million in salary this season.

The Wizards are over the $42.4 million salary cap, and their overall cap number is believed to be around $51 million.

In two seasons with the Wizards Smith averaged 4.7 points and 7.1 rebounds. Last season he appeared in 79 games, including 29 starts, and averaged 3.8 points. He was the team's top rebounder, averaging 7.1.

"We appreciate Michael's efforts through the years here in Washington," president of basketball operations Michael Jordan said in a statement. "He was a solid example with his community service and we wish him well. However, we as a team are looking in a different direction."

Smith, a Dunbar High School graduate, has played for four teams since being drafted by Sacramento in 1994, developing his reputation as a hard worker and a solid citizen. While with the Wizards, he purchased 50 tickets for every game and distributed to them to community organizations.

Last season, however, Smith had problems with the law. In January, Smith was arrested for his involvement in a New Year's Eve fight at a waterfront club. The following month, he was arrested on a DWI charge; ultimately, he pleaded guilty, was fined $500 and had his driving privileges suspended for a year. He also received a one-game suspension and $26,000 fine (1/90th of his $2.2 million 2000-02 salary) by the NBA.

Smith also drew a two-game suspension and a $48,000 fine from the Wizards for an obscenity-laced tirade when he was removed from a late-season game at Golden State.

Smith becomes the third starter the Wizards have bought out this year, following Rod Strickland and Mitch Richmond. Strickland remains a free agent, while Richmond signed a one-year deal with the NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers.

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