- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 12, 2002

The Washington Wizards will sign 38-year-old free agent forward Charles Oakley to a one-year contract today, an NBA source said yesterday.
The team helped make room for Oakley on the roster yesterday by waiving rookie swingman Rod Grizzard, a second-round choice in the 2002 NBA Draft.
After considering a number of teams, Oakley will bring a veteran presence to the Wizards' frontcourt, where young big men Kwame Brown, Brendan Haywood and Etan Thomas are the cornerstones.
Oakley is known as a hard-nosed leader who asserts himself under the boards. His sometimes sharp tongue made for strained situations last season in Chicago, where he and the Bulls endured a 21-61 season.
Oakley played three seasons with Michael Jordan in Chicago before a trade sent him to New York, where he spent 10 seasons with current Wizards assistant Patrick Ewing. Oakley then played three years in Toronto and last season back in Chicago. Over 17 seasons, he has averaged 10 points and 9.8 rebounds.
Oakley likely will sign for the minimum salary for veterans with at least 10 years of service, about $1million.
Grizzard didn't get off to a good start with the Wizards and never made up ground. He fractured a small bone in his right leg at a workout in Philadelphia on May 6, had knee surgery 10 days later and was expected to miss several weeks. The Wizards selected Grizzard, who left Alabama after his junior year, with the 39th choice overall and signed him to a two-year contract Sept.13.
Grizzard did not play with the Wizards' Pro Summer League team in Boston and missed several summer workouts. He arrived in training camp in Wilmington, N.C., expecting to practice at full strength but again had problems from the injury. He missed some early workouts but practiced later in the nine-day camp. Grizzard did not see action in Thursday night's preseason-opening victory against Philadelphia.
The Wizards' roster remains at 18 players. The team will have to cut down to 15 by the season opener Oct.30 at Toronto.
Note Wizards rookies Juan Dixon and Jared Jeffries attended an assembly yesterday morning at Benjamin Tasker Middle School in Bowie, where a 13-year old boy was shot Monday in one of the sniper attacks. Dixon and Jeffries brought a banner signed by Wizards players that also will be signed by students and delivered to the boy.
The Wizards also provided T-shirts and hats for the students and have invited the entire student body to the team's Nov.16 game against Miami at MCI Center.


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