The time Paul Pierce spent in D.C. was short, but his impact on and off the court was significant when the Wizards made a near-magical run in the Eastern Conference playoffs two seasons ago.
The time Alan Anderson spent in D.C. was short, and his impact on the court was minimal as Pierce's replacement in that follow-up disaster of a .500 season.
"There's a lot of moments that stand out for me," Pierce, 39, who'll be retiring after 19 years with the Los Angeles Clippers, said of his 2014-15 season in Washington. "Otto Porter, knowing I had an influence on him. Bradley Beal. John Wall. There's a lot of things I remember off the court just having a relationship with them... I keep up with them even today to see how they're doing. I talk to a few of the guys. Of course a lot of people are going to remember the things we provided in the playoffs."
The Wizards won 46 games that year and advanced to the semifinals only to lose in six games to the Atlanta Hawks. They'd swept the heavily favored Toronto Raptors in the first round, stole home-court advantage from the No. 1 seed Hawks but Wall broke his hand/wrist in the opener. That changed the series, keeping him out three games.
For Anderson, who was signed after Pierce walked in free agency to play for his hometown team and the coach he won a championship with, it was not a glorious time.
Pierce was gone the moment his three-pointer in Game 6 to force overtime vs. Atlanta was waved off because it came after the buzzer. Anderson longed for a second chance after he appeared in just 13 games of a season that left the Wizards outside of the postseason.
Anderson, 34, is now a role player for the Clippers, who the Wizards defeated 117-110 on Sunday for their biggest win in a 12-15 season. Pierce is his teammate. Neither played in that game.
During Las Vegas Summer League, Anderson was working out to rehabilitate his troublesome left ankle and the Wizards visited him. The ankle required two surgeries in five months and the first came after his 2014-15 season with the Brooklyn Nets to remove bone spurs. A fragment, however, was mistakenly left behind and, according to league sources to CSNmidatlantic.com at the time, that caused a tendon to fray.
"Personally, it was," Anderson said about re-signing with the Wizards being a priority as a result. "For them it wasn't. Whatever the reason that's fine. It's a job. It's a business."
Anderson has averaged 11.3 minutes in the seven games that he has appeared in for the Clippers, and 2.4 points on shooting 40% from three-point range. There were other options on the table for Anderson, who made $4 million when he signed for one year in Washington and now plays for the $1.3 million veteran minimum in Los Angeles.
"It wasn't that easy," Anderson said of playing at a discount. "I turned down some good money from other teams. Not as high caliber teams but teams I would've played a lot more and made a lot more money. Coming off the two ankle surgeries I did, you want to make sure this year you're not rushing into everything. With an explososive team we have I figured I was going to fit in. I came here with the mind-set be ready, be patient."
Though a lot of the pieces are different with the Wizards, some bad habits remain. For every win over the likes of the Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks and Detroit Pitons, there are losses to the Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers with obscene points allowed.
As much as injuries contributed to 41-41 and the firing of then-coach Randy Wittman last season, the yo-yo effect has been there under new coach Scott Brooks. The Wizards have a thinner bench to begin with and injuries to Ian Mahinmi (right knee) and Jason Smith (right hamstring) have forced an undrafted rookie in Daniel Ochefu into action.
"We win four or five games. We lose four or five games. We win some big games, we lose to teams we shouldn't lose to," Anderson said in explaining last season. "You can't do that. Injuries or not.
"The rhyme or reason (for that) is your mind-set and your approach. You can't approach a Philly as a Philly. You approach them as if they're Cleveland or Golden State. That just goes with maturity."
Mind-set falls on the backcourt of Wall and Beal, both in their mid-20s, who have been playing at an All-Star level. On Monday, Beal missed a game-winning three-point shot to the Indiana Pacers, but he has strung together a career-high seven consecutive games with 20 points or more. Wall is averaging a double-double again.
They're in sync like never before. The duo may have "disliked" each other on the court– in Wall's own words – at times, but they've clearly moved past that. Anderson has been there for flareups with every team he has played with and it's many. He has played in Charlotte, Toronto and Brooklyn, too. He also has spent time playing professionally in Italy, Russia, Croatia, Israel and Spain.
"Brothers always have a conflict with each other," Anderson said. "They just got to learn how to get past it. However they do that is on them. You're going to have bickering with every team. That actually builds the team."
Pierce only was complimentary of what he saw then and what he has seen since from the Wizards' backcourt, which could make the All-Star Game together for the first time.
"I thought those guys got along pretty well" he said. "When you're losing and things aren't going your way, then little things get brought up. Sometimes that happens. I've been a victim of that in the past when playing with losing teams. That's all part of it."