- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 31, 2004

Guard Laron Profit completed his circuitous route back to the Washington Wizards yesterday when he was given the final spot on the regular-season roster.

“A year ago at this time I was halfway around the world, and now I’m back here in a situation to compete at the highest level,” Profit said after learning he had beaten out rookie free agents Gerald Fitch and Billy Thomas.

Profit, 27, who joins former Maryland teammates Steve Blake and Juan Dixon on the roster, spent two seasons with the Wizards beginning in 1999 after he was traded from Orlando for a conditional second-round pick.

Meanwhile, the Wizards exercised their option on the fourth year of forward Jared Jeffries’ contract. However, they did not pick up the fourth year on Dixon’s contract, meaning the guard will be a free agent at the end of the season.

Profit’s career with the Wizards appeared over in 2001 when he was traded back to Orlando for the team’s current starting center, Brendan Haywood.

The 6-foot-5 Profit, who likely will see most of his action during practice, never made another NBA roster. He spent last season in China, where he helped the Guangdong Southern Tigers win the Chinese Basketball Association championship. He also has spent time in a Milwaukee Bucks training camp, a summer camp with the Philadelphia 76ers and briefly with Premiata Montegranaro in Italy.

During his first year out of the league, Profit said he didn’t even watch NBA basketball.

“I didn’t care,” he said. “Then last year I started watching, trying to find out where I fit in. I felt that I had matured into a more complete player.”

Profit played on the Wizards’ summer league team and was invited to training camp as a free agent. But it seemed almost certain that Fitch, a point guard from Kentucky, had the inside track to make the team, especially with Blake injured and likely out for the first month of the season.

However, it appears Profit’s veteran savvy — plus the fact that suspensions and injury have left the Wizards with probably just eight players for Wednesday’s season opener at Memphis — helped win him the job.

“It was a tough call. The other two guys played the right way: They played hard,” coach Eddie Jordan said. “All three of them had something to offer. After consulting with everybody I came to the decision that maybe Laron was the best for right now.

“He’s got good size, gets to the rim and he can get some steals,” Jordan continued. “He just has a feel for the game. Let’s see how he handles the role of being a support player. He’s not in the rotation right now, but he’s a guy who if he improves can certainly be in the rotation.”

One of Profit’s biggest supporters — former Wizard Richard Hamilton, now with the NBA champion Detroit Pistons — remains close to Profit and gave him what Profit termed some great advice.

“He told me, ‘Prof, if you can change anything, be aggressive, don’t be on your heels, and make a statement. Don’t go in there feeling like you have to appease people or like you have to fit in. You’ve got to go in there and make yourself stand out.’ So he’s been a great help for me,” Profit said.

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