Jaleel Roberts is a bit surprised that he's here with the Wizards considering he didn't blow them away during Las Vegas summer league. But Tuesday represents another chance if he's able to get on the court against the Philadelphia 76ers tonight (CSN, CSNmidatlantic.com and NBC Sports Live Extra, 6:30 p.m. ET).
Jarrid Famous shined among the bigs on the summer league team and it earned him a three-year contract with the Dallas Mavericks. Still, the Wizards saw something in Roberts, paid him to attend a private camp run by longtime NBA assistant coach Tim Grgurich and he didn't disappoint.
"Summer league I didn’t go as well as I originally thought it would. After that I didn’t really know what the journey was going to look like for me," said Roberts, a 7-foot center from UNC-Asheville who went undrafted. "When I got the call after summer league about going to Gurg’s camp, I knew the setting would be different as far as the format. I just went into it thinking it was another opportunity for them to see me, for me to learn regardless of what my situation was. I wasn’t looking ahead or anything like that because I still didn’t know if this was a possibility for me to be here today."
Roberts initially thought he'd be going overseas but the offer turned out to be not what he expected.
The Wizards have the maximum 15 guaranteed contracts on the roster for the 2015-16 season which means Roberts, or one of the other four free agents signed for training camp, will have to blow them away now to make a move such as waiving someone to create space.
Other than Marcin Gortat, the Wizards may not have much low-post size under contract after this season expires, with team options on Drew Gooden, Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair.
"Any opportunity to work hard here so they can have that in their mind next summer, if they're still interested, we can build on what we worked on here," Roberts said. "That to me is great. I want to put myself in the conversation. If you're not in the conversation you don't have anything."
Roberts is a project and the Wizards, even though they don't have a D-League team, are vested in his development no matter what happens next.
"Defense is huge for me, especially if I want to play for the Wizards. This is a defensive team," Roberts said about where he has to get better in order to make the next step here. "Knowing where to be on defense. Offense, you get better in the offseason working on that stuff. That in-game defense is something that I'm struggling with now. My man setting the screen, stuff like helping over, stuff like that. That's something I want to develop with my feet. Get there faster."