- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Washington Wizards didn’t take advantage of the amnesty rule under the new collective bargaining agreement by releasing a player without having that player’s salary count against the luxury tax, but they do feel they profited from it.

The Wizards feel they helped themselves when they snatched up center Calvin Booth — released by Milwaukee — as a complement to their center rotation of Brendan Haywood and backup Etan Thomas.

“Calvin gives us three veteran centers, something we haven’t had since I’ve been here,” coach Eddie Jordan said. “And he also gives us another 7-footer. I like the way he makes us look, and I like the things he’s going to do for us.”

Though Booth, 29, is actually an inch shy of 7-feet, there is no question that the one-time second-round pick by the Wizards in the 1999 NBA Draft should buttress the center position.

“I think it’s good to be back,” Booth said. “I always liked the city. Of course, the organization is a lot different than what it was when I was here.”

In his second season in the league, Booth was packaged in the Juwan Howard trade and viewed as a player who was little more than a throw-in to make the numbers work in the huge deal.

In fact, Booth, who has averaged 4.1 points and 3.3 rebounds while playing an average of 14.3 minutes during his career, has gained his greatest recognition by being part of deals in which teams have tried to rid themselves of big-ticket players.

Dallas, which experimented with him at power forward because of his ability to step away from the basket, traded Booth to Milwaukee in the 2004-05 season so that the Bucks could rid themselves of the more than $12million annually they were shelling out for Keith Van Horn.

During all this movement, Booth — who also has been a member of the Mavericks for two stints — did manage to get well paid, signing a six-year, $34million deal with Seattle at the start of the 2001-02 season. However, a severely sprained ankle before the season began transformed Booth from the Sonics’ expected starting center to a player who appeared in just 15 games that season.

“That was hard because I really had a good summer and was looking forward to making a contribution,” Booth said. “It wasn’t meant to be.”

The season before, Booth had earned a reputation as a shot blocker, having swatted away more than two a game for the second consecutive season. Since then, though, he never has blocked more than 1.42 a game.

That, says Booth, is one of the motivating elements he brings with him this season.

“It bothers you sometimes when you think about it,” Booth said. “That’s why Washington is a good place for me again. They’re headed up, and that’s where I want to go.”

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