- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 26, 2003

The Washington Wizards fortified their shallow ranks at point guard yesterday, signing Chris Whitney, the franchise leader in 3-pointers and free throw percentage.

“We’re extremely pleased to add an established veteran player like Chris Whitney to our roster,” said Ernie Grunfeld, the Wizards’ president of basketball operations. “Chris is a quality person who will help us both on and off the court, and is an outstanding professional for our young players to emulate. I know that the fans in Washington have a very special relationship with Chris. He is a very competitive individual and is an outstanding perimeter shooter.”

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. However, as a player with 10 years’ experience, Whitney is required by the league’s collective bargaining agreement to be paid $1.07million this season.

Whitney, who will be in his 11th NBA season and eighth in Washington at 31, connected on 481 3-pointers before the Wizards traded him to Denver last October. During his first stint in Washington, he also shot .878 percent from the free throw line.

“I am thrilled to be back in Washington and to return to the community that has supported me for the majority of my career,” Whitney said. “I already have a great relationship with many guys on our roster, and I look forward to working in [coach] Eddie Jordan’s system and being a part of the exciting things happening here.”

Whitney was traded last season largely because the Wizards thought Maryland product Juan Dixon would be able to transform his game into that of an NBA point guard. However, Dixon struggled making the conversion, so much so that he has already requested that he be allowed to concentrate on playing shooting guard, his position in college.

The Wizards drafted Steve Blake out of Maryland in the second round of the draft this summer and recently signed him to a two-year deal. However, Whitney’s knowledge of the game, coupled with his league-wide reputation as a coachable player, almost guarantees that Whitney will be the No.2 point guard behind Gilbert Arenas when the team reports to training camp next month.

In 563 regular-season games, Whitney has career averages of 6.6 points and 2.8 assists. He had his best season in 2001-2002, when he started 81 games for Washington and averaged a career-high 10.2 points while ranking fourth in the NBA in assists to turnover ratio.

Whitney was selected in the second round of the 1993 draft by San Antonio. He signed a 10-day contract with Washington in March 1996 and remained with the team before he was dealt last fall for George McCloud. Whitney played in 29 games for Denver before being traded to Orlando, where he saw action in 22 games and played for the Magic in the playoffs.

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