The latest phase of reshuffling is complete now that Marcus Thornton has joined the Wizards, and Bradley Beal is back with the team, before tonight's game with the Utah Jazz. A three-game losing streak can't grow if they hope to make any sort of serious push for a postseason berth.
Thornton, a 6-4 scorer, averaged 10 points a game in 47 appearances for the Houston Rockets, who traded him to the Detroit Pistons at the deadline only to have that deal voided. He then was waived so he could find another location rather than return to Houston and the Wizards (30-33) feel familiar.
Thornton grew up with Garrett Temple, who has started in place of Beal when he has been injured in all but one game this season, in Baton Rouge, La., played with him in AAU and at LSU. He also was a teammate of Alan Anderson with the Brooklyn Nets last season and J.J. Hickson with the Sacramento Kings in 2011-12.
Like Gary Neal, who was waived earlier this week because of a right thigh strain that showed no signs of improving, Thornton is with Washington for his shooting ability. Not defense. Not creating for others.
"That's what I've been known to do," Thornton said after his first practice in Salt Lake City on Thursday. "I'm here to do it."
Exactly how does he slot in with coach Randy Wittman's rotation is a different matter. Now that Beal, who missed Tuesday's loss to the Portland Trail Blazers for a pelvic sprain, has gotten better with treatment and seems ready to play it would seem that Thornton will fill Neal's role.
In the event that Beal can't play starter's minutes or gets re-injured, it gives Wittman an option for a starter other than Temple who typically is relied on for his defensive skill and can't carry too much of the offensive burden.
When he starts, Thornton's production skyrockets (6 games): 17.3 points, 47.8% field-goal shooting, 39.1% three-point shooting, 4.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 35.3 minutes.
Compare that to when he has come off the bench (41 games): 9.0 points, 38% field-goal shooting, 32.4% three-point shooting, 2.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 16.4 minutes.
That's not just a result of more playing time but when running the floor with better players, it tends to open up the floor and make role players who can shoot such as Thornton better.
If the Wizards are put in position to have to play without Beal again, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Thornton in the starting five.