- The Washington Times - Friday, June 30, 2006

At some point this weekend, perhaps as early as today, Washington Wizards president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld will talk with Andy Miller, the agent for Jared Jeffries, to begin the team’s free agency period.

But don’t expect it to start with much of a bang.

Although Jeffries, the Wizards’ lone restricted free agent, is expected to draw strong interest — and his value no doubt increased when his versatility was on display in the postseason — business is not expected to be brisk in Washington.

At least in the early going.

“We’ve got 12 players signed to contracts, and we’ve got two rookies,” Grunfeld said yesterday. “And Jared is a restricted free agent, so we have the option to match any offer he received if we see fit to do so.”

A number of teams with salary cap space — Chicago, Charlotte, Atlanta and New Orleans — have shown interest in Jeffries, a perimeter defender with a long (6-foot-11) frame. Other teams that can’t spend as freely — San Antonio, Philadelphia and New York — also have shown interest.

The Wizards also could include Jeffries in a sign-and-trade, but sources said yesterday that doesn’t appear likely.

Although the Wizards were permitted to begin talking to free agents at 12:01 a.m. today, deals cannot be signed until July 12. The new salary cap for next season won’t be set until July 11 and is expected to be about $52 million, according to league sources.

More immediately, the Wizards are focused on what they already have.

On Monday, they’ll conduct the first of three two-a-day workouts for rookies and free agents at Verizon Center. On Thursday, they’ll begin play in the Vegas Summer League at Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas, where they’ll play five games, and then they’ll move on to Long Beach, Calif., where they will play four more games.

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