A strong run with the Memphis Grizzlies in training camp didn't produce a roster spot for Ryan Hollins, who was the final cut after he chose them over the Wizards. Tuesday, he's expected to be in uniform when the play at the Cleveland Cavaliers (CSN, CSNmidatlantic.com and NBC Sports Live Extra, 6:30 p.m. ET).
“I’m in a different place in my career. It took a lot of patience. I felt like I had one of the best camps I’ve had with the Memphis Grizzlies. Things went great," said Hollins, a 7-foot center who will back up Marcin Gortat. "I love that organization but things obviously didn’t work out there so I came home with a different hunger for the game just knowing the way I’d played and I know how much I have still left in this game. Watching a couple guys play, knowing that I should be on a roster, so it really just humbled (me.)"
The Wizards (6-8) are on a four-game losing streak and are depleted in the middle after Nene (left calf strain) went down last week. He likely won't be available for at least a week, though probably more, as he stayed behind in D.C. Kris Humphries shuffled into Nene's role on Saturday and that didn't work out well. Although DeJuan Blair has gotten in better shape, he's undersized for the position. Hollins is longer and more athletic than both.
"The guy has played on good teams. Had a stint with the Clippers. He had a great camp, hard cut for them in Memphis," said Wizards coach Randy Wittman. "He’s a guy that’s been around. And size, legit 7-foot that can run, good defender, can block shots. In size alone, we’re pretty small, especially with the injuries."
According to Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Hollins performed so well for the Grizzlies that they strongly considered trading second-year forward Jarnell Stokes to make room for him.
Hollins trained at Cal-State Northridge, with women's coach Jason Flowers and Rico Hines, a former UCLA Bruins player like Hollins and ex-coach at St. John's while he waited. At the very least, he gives the Wizards a different look with the second unit. He's not there to be an offensive weapon. Hollins' job is to do the grunt work as his career averages of 3.7 points, 2.2 rebounds and 0.5 blocks suggest.
“Adds another body, somebody that can block shots, somebody that can rebound, athletic, can catch lobs and stuff like that," point guard John Wall said of his new teammate after their first practice Monday. "He does a great job of talking defensively. That’s what he was doing today was talking the whole time.”
This is right in Hollins' wheelhouse. Originally a 2006 second-round drat pick of the then-Charlotte Bobcats, he will be suiting up for his eighth different team. He's playing for the veteran minimum for a player of his experience at $1.36 million (pro-rated since he didn't play 14 games).
“It’s really simple. I’ve been watching the Wizards and John and playing these guys a couple times a year and watching the development of these young guys through the years. I’m just impressed with the way they defend and get after it," Hollins said. "We have aggressive guards and we want to climb into the ball so if me and Marcin do our job, and DeJuan, do our job defensively it’s going to make it easier on the guards. We can really get out and play 94 feet and that’s the way we want to play as an uptempo defense to match the offense."