- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 10, 2004

RICHMOND — Back in 1999, Laron Profit was considered a valuable commodity. The former Maryland Terrapin impressed the Orlando Magic enough for them to select him with the 32nd pick in the NBA Draft.

Before the 1999-2000 season, Profit’s name carried enough cache to warrant a trade to Washington in September for a second-round pick. He was viewed favorably for his defense and hustle by then-Wizards president of basketball operations Michael Jordan, and it appeared the 6-foot-5 guard might find a hometown home in the NBA.

Five years later, things have changed greatly. Profit again is in Washington’s training camp, but this time he is on the outside looking in.

“I don’t even think about it,” said Profit, who took a circuitous route back to the Wizards. “You don’t worry about it. I just try to control what I can and make the best out of the opportunity in front of me.”

That opportunity is somewhere between slim and none. The Wizards, who close camp today following their morning session at Virginia Commonwealth University, already have 14 players signed and are allowed to start the season with just 15 under contract.

And although point guard Steve Blake is on the mend from ankle surgery, the Wizards don’t have a lot of minutes available at guard, where starters Gilbert Arenas and Larry Hughes are backed up by Juan Dixon and Anthony Peeler.

Of the six free agents in camp, in fact, Profit is probably behind Kentucky point guard Gerald Fitch, who endeared himself to the team’s front office with his play in summer camp.

The situation doesn’t appear to faze Profit, perhaps because of where he has been since the Wizards dealt him to Orlando in the summer of 2001 for the draft rights to current starting center Brendan Haywood.

Profit spent last season in China, where he helped the Guangdong Southern Tigers win the Chinese Basketball Association championship. He also has also spent time in a Milwaukee Bucks training camp, a summer camp with Philadelphia and briefly with Premiata Montegranaro in Italy.

“I’ve gotten a chance to see places I never thought I would because of the game of basketball,” Profit said. “It’s been a great experience. But right now I’m focusing on what I need to do here.”

Profit still maintains a home in Maryland. He spent some of his spring working out with the Wizards at MCI Center and parlayed that into an invitation to play on their summer league team.

“I’ve been there before as a player,” Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. “You are proud of being here and you are happy to be getting a chance to get a taste of it. At the end of my career, I saw that with Portland a little bit. It is a chance and you don’t take it for granted and I know he and the other guys don’t take it for granted. Hopefully, it carries over to your next opportunity.”

At 27, Profit doesn’t have big expectations. He’ll likely be with the Wizards long enough to see some preseason action.

After that, who knows?

“I’m not even looking that far ahead,” Profit says. “I’ll deal with that when the time comes.”

Notes — Centers Haywood and Etan Thomas sustained minor injuries. Haywood banged his knee and didn’t participate in the final drills of the morning session. Thomas missed more of the practice after developing a tightening in his abdomen. … The Wizards trimmed their roster to 18 by releasing free agents Alpha Bangura and Rich Melzer.

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