Not waiting for Monday's final roster deadline before becoming compliant with the NBA's roster limit, the Wizards announced two more player cuts on Sunday: guard Shelvin Mack and forward Brian Cook.
Barring additional transactions before Tuesday's regular season opener at Cleveland, Washington's 15-player roster includes the injured John Wall and Nene, training camp eve addition Jannero Pargo and journeyman center Earl Barron.
Over the weekend, Washington released guard Steven Gray and Shavlik Randolph. The pair was among the Wizards training camp invitees along with Cook and Barron, the 7-footer who has played parts of six NBA seasons.
Mack, the Wizards second round selection in 2011 who played in 64 games last season, is the biggest shock of those released - and yet not surprising at all.
In an attempt to shore up the team's backup point guard role behind John Wall and after Mack failed to impress during the Las Vegas Summer League, the Wizards added three-year veteran A.J. Price. When Wall went down just before the start of training camp, Washington added the 33-year-old Pargo, possessor of more NBA experience and a more accurate 3-point shot than Mack, who averaged 3.6 points and 2.0 assists last season.
The only one of battling point guards not to start one of Washington's eight preseason games, Mack stepped up his play as a facilitator during the preseason, doling out 24 assists compared to only four turnovers. Regardless, the Wizards felt comfortable enough starting the season with two point guards on the roster. Price turning in a strong effort over the final four games and Pargo's resume helped with that feeling. Jordan Crawford and Bradley Beal can also slide over from the wing guard slot to lead the attack in spots.
It’s also possible the team decided that it won’t keep four point guards whenever Wall returns – projected time frame is just after Thanksgiving – and simply cut to the chase. Yet it's the various frontcourt ailments - Nene's foot and Kevin Seraphin's calf in particular - that apparently led to the Wizards choosing height (Barron) over a third point guard or another shooter (Cook).
In seven preseason games, the 31-year-old Barron averaged 4.0 points and 4.3 rebounds. Playing for seven NBA teams since debuting in 2005-06 with Miami, the 250-pounder averaged 5.1 points.
The Wizards acquired Cook with Nene in the three-team trade that sent JaVale McGee and Ronny Turiaf to Denver and Nick Young to the Los Angeles Clippers. The 32-year-old appeared in 16 games for the Wizards last season, averaging 3.1 points and 2.5 rebounds. The nine-year NBA veteran shot 41.7 percent from beyond the arc during camp, but lacks Barron's size in the paint.
Outside of Barron, the only healthy 6-foot-9 or taller options for coach Randy Wittman are Emeka Okafor and Jan Vesely. Forwards Trevor Booker and Chris Singleton also missed time due to injury during the preseason.
After missing the entire preseason, Nene's expected return from his lingering bout of plantar fasciitis remains uncertain. Same could be said Seraphin, who missed or parts of the Wizards final five preseason games, though his calf issue appears to be more of a day-to-day concern.
For now, Barron stays with the team as a reserve center. Should Nene and Seraphin return sooner than later, Wittman may opt for another ball handler over Barron. Regardless, for now, Mack and Cook look for work elsewhere.