Jared Dudley spent part of his 30th birthday on a conference call with media members. Another celebration of sorts began the week prior when the Wizards acquired the veteran forward from the Milwaukee Bucks.
The engaging Dudley explained he sensed the Wizards might work once Paul Pierce blew out the candles on his time in Washington. If all goes to plan, this stretch-4 option becomes the positional present coach Randy Wittman unwraps at the start of the regular season.
"I liked my situation in Milwaukee, but if they told me I was going to opt-in and go to Washington, I would have opted in the first day because I can't see a situation's that's better for me right now," Dudley said Friday.
During the call, Dudley explained with detail the Wizards' situation and how he and the other new guys fit in. Washington becomes his fifth NBA team and fourth in four seasons.
"This was a place I was thinking about going possibly in free agency," said Dudley, who opted into the final year of his contract with the Bucks on June 30. Approximately 48 hours later, Milwaukee shipped him to Washington.
"I decided to opt back in. I knew [Washington] could be a possibility once Paul Pierce left. I think that I fit in well."
Dudley can play either forward position. Besides, Washington's backcourt is spoken for going forward.
"(I) can help fill that void as a 3/stretch-4," he said. "Playing with John Wall. ...Bradley Beal ready to become an All-Star. It's that 3/4 position where they had a [void]. I think with myself, Alan Anderson and the rookie, hopefully we can help fill that void."
Even with the future Hall of Fame forward in Pierce last season, the Wizards were not loaded on the wings. In terms of options, that's certainly not the case this season even as Pierce left for the Los Angeles Clippers. Otto Porter improved during the playoffs. Washington signed free agents Gary Neal and Anderson. They drafted Kelly Oubre Jr., - a.k.a. "the rookie" - in the first round. Perhaps most interesting of all, the Wizards traded with the Bucks for Dudley. The cost, extremely minor. The payoff? '
"'Versatility," Wittman said. "He's a team guy. He's a good locker room guy. He's a good teammate. He can play multiple positions. He has a smart basketball IQ. All those things,."
Of Dudley's 595 NBA games, he started 212 of them including 22 with the Bucks last season. That means he's mostly been a come-off-the-bench kind of player, which the former first round pick by Charlotte in 2007 said he has no issue with in Washington.
Same goes for playing either forward spot, though it's that perimeter power forward role Dudley improved on last season.
"I think the appeal was with Paul Pierce leaving, there was a 3-spot void. Obviously they have Otto Porter who had a great playoffs and is a good young player," Dudley said. "With a young guy, usually teams, especially playoff teams, like to have a young guy and a vet. I felt that fit.
"Also, last year I really expanded my game, going to the stretch-4 where it was easier to guard 4's. I could stretch it with the 3-ball. I could take them off the dribble."
The career 40 percent shooter from beyond the arc sank 38 percent of his attempts last season while averaging 7.2 points and 3.1 rebounds. Dudley drained 8 of 14 (57.1) 3-pointers during Milwaukee's playoff series loss to the Chicago Bulls.
Washington deployed Pierce and Porter together with great success during the playoffs. That pairing was rare during the regular season in part because Wittman didn't want to overuse the 37-year-old Pierce. Expect that formation to receive heavy rotation this campaign.
"I'm excited to work with Otto Porter," Dudley said. "The stretch-4 position, I know I can help out. You see now in today's age people going small-ball. Indiana will put Paul George at the 4. Draymond Green plays stretch-4. (Paul) Millsap. You have to have a versatile 4 that can guard those positions and that's what I think I can do and hope to bring."