- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Washington Wizards’ summer to-do list is almost finished.

The club already has signed two first-round picks (No. 16 Nick Young from this year’s draft and No. 18 Oleksiy Pecherov from last year’s) and has gotten a chance to look at them in the recently completed Las Vegas Summer League, in which the team of rookies and free agents went 2-4.

The Wizards officially signed guard DeShawn Stevenson to a four-year, $15 million deal yesterday, guaranteeing the team will bring back all five starters from last season’s playoff team if it so chooses.

At some point in the next few days, the club is expected to announce it has completed a deal with second-round pick Dominic McGuire, bringing the number of signed players to 11. And though there still are things left on the list, all of them now will be determined by the luxury tax, not the salary cap.

Even before they came to terms with Stevenson over the weekend, the Wizards were over the cap ($55.6 million). But going into free agency, just four teams — Charlotte, Orlando, Memphis and Milwaukee — had any significant cap space available.

These circumstances will play an interesting role in what the Wizards do next, specifically as it relates to restricted free agent Andray Blatche.

The Wizards used a portion of the midlevel exception to sign Stevenson, meaning they already have about $64 million committed to salaries for next season. This puts them right on the doorstep of the dreaded luxury tax trigger ($67.8 million), the point at which teams must pay a dollar (to the league) for every dollar by which they exceed the tax.

Despite the Wizards’ contention that they want to keep the 20-year-old Blatche — a 6-foot-11 forward with more untapped potential than anything else — there are other teams out there that could tender Blatche a contract the Wizards could not match without exceeding the tax.

Some teams, such as Dallas, which is believed to have some interest in Blatche, could offer him the midlevel exception, with a starting first-year salary of about $5.4 million. Because he is a restricted free agent, the Wizards, despite the proximity of the tax trigger, can match any offer Blatche receives.

“We have had some discussions with a number of teams showing interest in Andray,” his agent, Eric Fleisher, said last night.

After Blatche, the Wizards hope to use their other exception of approximately $1.8 million on free agent center Calvin Booth, according to sources.

Washington already has started the process of jettisoning players it doesn’t want, with Jarvis Hayes at the top of the list. Hayes is a restricted free agent whom the Wizards don’t plan on retaining, according to team and league sources.

Other free agents who don’t appear to figure prominently in the Wizards’ plans at this point are Michael Ruffin, Donnell Taylor, Mike Hall and Roger Mason.

The Wizards have somewhat of a wild card in that they have been given the rights to negotiate a contract buyout of Spanish standout Juan Carlos Navarro.

Whatever the 27-year-old Navarro does in the league will be determined by what the Wizards do with his rights. A number of teams have inquired about Navarro, and there appears to be a market for a player with good offensive skills who is not believed to be much of a defender.

Note Forward Caron Butler was honored by the NBA with the Community Assist Award for June. Butler was honored for his ongoing philanthropic work in his hometown of Racine, Wis.

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