Barring a major roster overhaul that creates room for Kevin Seraphin and a bump in salary, his time with the Wizards, who acquired him in a trade five years ago on draft night, will end.
In his most significant playoff duty of his four-year career, Seraphin came in for an ill Marcin Gortat on Friday and scored 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds in 28 minutes in a series-closing 94-91 loss to the Atlanta Hawks in Game 6 of the East semifinals.
Seraphin, who signed a one-year qualifying offer last summer for $3.9 million to remain in Washington, is eager to spread his wings.
"I definitely want a chance to be a starter," Seraphin, who matched his career high with 79 regular-season appearances but didn't start a game for the 46-win Wizards, told CSNwashington.com. "I definitely want to be somewhere I have a chance to be a starter."
As long as Marcin Gortat is with the Wizards, that won't happen here. He will be entering the second year of a five-year deal that pays his $60 million. The Wizards were loaded with size in the low post -- Nene, Drew Gooden, Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair -- but Seraphin was the one true back-to-the-basket option at center.
Where he showed the greatest progress was his discipline on defense. Coach Randy Wittman made an extra effort to sit down with Seraphin and go over film to help him not pick up as many cheap fouls. Seraphin didn't reach in as much and played better position defense and that was on display Friday when he was caught matched up with Paul Millsap.
Seraphin's decision-making with the ball off the double-teams was better. He'd not been used in the previous three games vs. Atlanta because of the shorter rotations and the Hawks using so many small lineups, but Seraphin was ready.
Along with Otto Porter, he sparked the Wizards' sluggish offense with his activity on the boards with his strong, 6-10 frame. There's always room from a center who can get quick buckets and make face-up jump shot. Seraphin figures with time, he'll get even better.
"If I really want to learn -- it's easy to say, 'Yeah, stay on the bench' -- but in basketball or any sport it's best to be on the court," said Seraphin, who averaged 6.6 points and 3.6 rebounds in 15.6 minutes per game and came into camp at about 20 pounds lighter at 270. "The first John Wall I saw in my life, remember that was the game in Philly the first game, he wasn't the same John as right now. It's because he played all those years and everything. He learned. He became a better player. I remember the John who used to run, get charges all the time. Now he controls the game better. He became an All-Star because he had the talent, he had the opportunity and everything. That's basically what I want. I want to play. I really want to play and have a chance to prove what I can do."
Free agency is a futures market when it comes to players such as Seraphin. Given the playing time, can he be a starting quality center? The physical tools he has says yes and he'll likely get a significant bump in salary to prove it. When Gortat played in the shadow of Dwight Howard with the Orlando Magic, it required a similar move to the Phoenix Suns.
The Minnesota Timberwolves contacted the Wizards to gauge their interest in trading Seraphin this season, but that was quickly rejected.