Wednesday , Jul , 20 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Antonio Daniels Signs With Wizards

What initially seemed like the summer’s most unnecessary signing might turn out to be anything but.
Late Tuesday, Antonio Daniels agreed to a five-year, $30 million deal with the Washington Wizards.
“The more we talked with Washington, we just felt very comfortable,” Daniels’ Houston-based agent Tony Dutt, told ESPN. “When Larry Hughes went to Cleveland, it just became a perfect fit for Antonio.”

Antonio Daniels Signs With Wizards

Trying to replace Hughes, the Wizards turned to the 6’4’’, eight-year vet Daniels. On the surface, the deal doesn’t look like it offers the Wizards much help.
The former fourth overall pick seems like a VERY poor man’s Gilbert Arenas, lending speculation to the necessity of the agreement. Daniels’ addition makes the Wizards the unofficial leader in point guards under 6’4’’ – Arenas, Daniels, Steve Blake, Chucky Atkins and Juan Dixon.
And with the Wiz in dire need of a power forward, Wizards fans might be seen dragging President of Basketball Operations Ernie Grunfeld to a psychiatrist.
But a closer look at the situation might show Grunfeld knew what he was doing after all.
Daniels’ calling card has always been solid defense. AD will step onto the court as a Top 2 backcourt defender for the Wizards. Losing an All-Defense first-teamer, the Wizards went after the toughest defender on the market.
Many see Daniels as key piece to transforming the Wiz from a playground style gimmick team to a more efficient team that can compete with the League’s elite.
Throughout most of his career, Daniels proved himself to be a solid all-around player. He’s also a very good slasher and potent scoring threat from all parts of the floor.
Two seasons ago, he led the NBA in assist/to ratio.
The next step in the Wizards’ offseason plans point to dealing for a tough power forward.
Signing Daniels would make sense if the Wiz package Etan Thomas, Jared Jefferies or Jarvis Hayes and Atkins for an effective big like Jamal Magloire or Drew Gooden.
Losing Daniels is another hard blow to the Sonics as they have already lost their head coach Nate McMillan to Portland and center Jerome James to New York this offseason.
The Sonics allegedly offered Daniels, who turned 30 last March, a three-year deal worth about $15 million, but Daniels was looking for a five-year deal.
In addition to Washington and Seattle, many other teams were in the Daniels sweepstakes. The Los Angeles Lakers, Utah Jazz, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs and Denver Nuggets all courted Daniels for his services this summer.
Daniels would have filled now teammate Chucky Atkins’ old Laker starting spot. But the Lakers were reluctant to extend contract offers beyond the 2006-07 season because they want cap room for summer 2007.

Jazz senior vice president Kevin O’Connor made a personal pitch to the eight-year veteran at his home in San Antonio last weekend. Utah pursued Daniels to ease rookie Deron Williams’ transition into the NBA.

Dutt spoke with Nuggets general manager Kiki Vandeweghe for the first time Monday, but Daniels’ agent said, “They kind of got in the game late.” Vandeweghe pondered using Denver’s $5 million midlevel salary-cap exception and its $1.7 million exception.
At the Vegas Summer League, Daniels met with Blazers officials, including general manager John Nash and Coach Nate McMillan. Dutt was quoted in The Oregonian Wednesday saying, “With Nate (McMillan) going (to Portland) — he had a great relationship with him, so it’s intriguing.”
But apparently not intriguing as five-years and $30 million.