- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Washington Wizards, still smarting from the loss of guard Larry Hughes, will begin to address their frontcourt issues this week by bringing in free-agent forward Donyell Marshall.

“There has definitely been some interest expressed there, and I can say that we are going to talk with Washington,” Marshall’s agent, Andy Miller, said last night.

The Wizards would be looking at the 6-foot-9, 32-year-old Marshall most likely with their $4.9 million mid-level exception.

Marshall spent most of last season with the Toronto Raptors on the trading block, getting heavy interest from Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia. Those teams are still said to covet the 11-year veteran. However, the Wizards, who need help in the frontcourt — especially if they deal forward Kwame Brown this summer — are believed to be Marshall’s top choice.

Last season with the Raptors, Marshall averaged 11.5 points and 6.6 rebounds. He has good shooting range for a big man, as evidenced last season when he made a career-best 41.6 percent (151-for-363) from behind the 3-point line.

The Wizards can court Marshall now, but they cannot sign him until July 22, when the moratorium on signing players is lifted.

While the Wizards’ position at the start of the offseason was that there still was a possibility Brown might be re-signed, this hinged heavily on their belief that they would be able to re-sign Hughes — their top priority this offseason — who had a tremendous season for Washington.

But the Wizards were caught off guard when Hughes, who had said he wanted to return to Washington, rejected the team’s final offer of a six-year, $72million deal to sign with Cleveland for five years at close to $70 million.

The good news for the Wizards is that there are at least six or seven teams that have contacted them about Brown. The bad news is that while Brown is looking for at least a three-year deal, most teams seem more interested in signing him for two years with an option for a third.

Another potential sticking point, according to at least two sources, is that the Wizards also are asking for a first-round pick in most scenarios.

One report in yesterday’s Philadelphia Inquirer suggested that the Wizards were in discussions concerning a trade that would ship Brown to the Los Angeles Lakers for Caron Butler and Chucky Atkins. However, according to a league source, those talks eased last night.

The New York Knicks have indicated they would love to have Brown. However, the Knicks have little to offer. In fact, the best they might be able to do is a trade involving former Georgetown standout Mike Sweetney.

Note — Wizards owner Abe Pollin had heart bypass surgery last week and is recovering at a Cleveland hospital, a team spokesman said yesterday.

“He sailed through the surgery. It couldn’t have gone any better,” spokesman Josh Sekine said. “His family said that he’s doing well and looks good. He looks healthier than ever, they said.”

Pollin, 81, had a bypass procedure 25 years ago, Sekine said. Pollin went to the Cleveland Clinic heart center for a checkup last month. He is expected to return to the Washington area next week.

• The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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