PHILADELPHIA -- The motivation of J.J. Hickson, who joined the Wizards for the first time at Friday's shootaround at Wells Fargo Center, is obvious. He hasn't been to the postseason in a long time.
The problem is there's no guarantee he'll end that drought by signing with Washington as a free agent.
"I get a chance to make the playoffs. I haven't made the playoffs since my second year in the league. This is year eight for me," said Hickson, referring to 2010 when LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat. "It's very important that I'm here now, that I get a fresh start. It's time to get to the playoffs and make this push."
The Wizards (26-30) are on the outside looking in and coming off a terrible loss at the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday. Tonight, they have the NBA's worst team in the Philadelphia 76ers (8-46).
Hickson went from Cleveland to the Sacramento Kings, spent a few seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers and the last three with the Denver Nuggets before he reached a buyout agreement. The Wizards signed him earlier this week at the pro-rated vet minimum to fill the 15th roster spot.
The Wizards, who have been negligent when it comes to their hustle and toughness around the rim, can use a 27-year-old who is 6-9, about 240 pounds and doesn't require the ball to be effective.
As it is for every player who is joining a new team late in the season, adjusting to a new system will present its challenges.
"In this league everybody runs the same stuff with a little wrinkle, with a little twist," Hickson said. "It's just a matter of learning the terminology and getting that cohesiveness with my teammates."
Hickson flourished playing off of James. With John Wall pushing the pace, he should be able to get easy baskets.
"That's something I've done my whole career, run the floor, be active," he said. "I'm a piece of the puzzle."
Where Hickson slots in the rotation will be the question. Jared Dudley has been the starting power forward but he's more of a stretch option. Markieff Morris is the eventual starter there but pending matchups Hickson could work, too. Dudley could end up logging time at small forward as well though the way Alan Anderson played in his first game back makes him an option.
Coach Randy Wittman has the pieces.
"I wouldn't say we're tense. Just a sense of urgency. We're right there," Hickson said of the mood of the team following that 109-104 loss in Chicago. "As long as we stay focused and do what we've got to do, we'll be alright."
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