- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Washington Wizards finalized their roster for the regular season Tuesday morning, releasing NBA journeymen DerMarr Johnson and Linton Johnson.

The moves bring the Wizards’ roster to 15 players, including injured guard Gilbert Arenas, who is out for at least the first month of the season recovering from knee surgery, and center Brendan Haywood - out for four to six months while recovering from wrist surgery.

The roster is composed of six guards: Arenas, Dee Brown, Antonio Daniels, Juan Dixon, DeShawn Stevenson and Nick Young; six forwards: Andray Blatche, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, Dominic McGuire, Oleksiy Pecherov and Darius Songaila; and three centers: Etan Thomas, Haywood and rookie JaVale McGee.

Washington added DerMarr Johnson, a 6-foot-9, eighth-year shooting guard, and Linton Johnson, a 6-8, sixth-year small forward, to its training camp roster Sept. 22. DerMarr Johnson, a D.C. native, appeared in five preseason games for the Wizards and averaged 8.8 points in 19.6 minutes. Linton Johnson, whom the Wizards liked for his defensive skills, averaged 1.3 points and 2.8 rebounds in 12.8 minutes in four preseason games.

“We let DerMarr Johnson go, who had done a terrific job, and Linton Johnson,” Jordan said after Tuesday’s practice. “Both played very well for us. They have been NBA players and will continue to be NBA players, and we appreciate their efforts and professionalism. But at the same time, we like what we have, and this is pretty much our team.

“They both made things interesting,” Jordan later added. “Both of those guys were right there on the cusp, they did a lot of good things for us. Both were intriguing. DerMarr, being 6-9, played very well in games. But we thought overall we liked the 15 that we have.”

The only players signed this summer that made the regular season cut are Brown, a reserve; McGee, selected 18th in the draft; and Dixon, who signed with Washington on Sept. 25.

Both Brown - acquired in June via trade from Utah - and Dixon are signed to partially guaranteed contracts, but each offers the Wizards much-needed elements.

“Dee gives us quickness and the ability to change the pace of the game at both ends of the floor, and Juan certainly is a scorer that we miss and some of the points that we miss while Gil is out. He’s been here before, he knows the offense, he knows we’re familiar with him, so that’s what they bring.”

Jordan has repeatedly praised Brown - who spent last season playing professionally in Turkey - for his aggressive play on both offense and defense. And with Arenas out, he and Daniels are the only natural point guards on the roster.

Dixon, originally drafted by the Wizards out of Maryland in 2002, missed the first four preseason games with a calf injury but returned to action Friday against the New Orleans Hornets. After three strong practices, Dixon feels confident he can help the Wizards, who open the season at home Oct. 29 against New Jersey.

“Just knowing the system, Coach has a lot of confidence in me,” Dixon said. “He knows that I’m going to go out and execute the play, be in the right positions on the floor. And my job is to do whatever they ask of me, so whatever my role is, that’s what I’m going to go out and do.”

Notes - Jordan said Nick Young (knee) had the strongest practice of any player Tuesday and could make his preseason debut Wednesday at San Antonio. The Wizards play their preseason finale against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Columbus, Ohio, on Friday.

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