The Wizards have signed J.J. Hickson, the team announced. Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post reported that a deal was expected between the sides after Shams Charania of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports wrote that they were engaged in advanced discussions about a prorated minimum-salary contract that would run through the rest of the season. The pact indeed covers the balance of 2015/16, as Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld confirmed in the team’s press release.
“Signing J.J. for the remainder of the season gives us another solid veteran who will bring more depth to our frontcourt,” Grunfeld said. “His experience, athletic ability and physical presence will be solid additions to our team as we continue our playoff push.”
Hickson became a free agent earlier this week after the Nuggets waived him Saturday. Denver and the Jeff Schwartz client were planning to do a buyout deal, as Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported shortly before Hickson’s release, though it’s unclear how much salary, if any, Hickson forfeited from the $5,613,500 his Nuggets contract called for him to make this season. Assuming he’s getting the minimum as reported, he’ll make $366,337 with the Wizards as a seven-year veteran, though Washington only has to pay $273,038, the equivalent of the prorated two-year veteran’s minimum, with the league picking up the tab for the rest. That’s key, since the Wizards were already only about $1MM shy of the tax line.
Washington was only carrying only 14 players, one below the regular season maximum, so the team didn’t have to make a corresponding move. The Wizards were short a big man, since they sent Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair to the Suns for Markieff Morris in a two-for-one trade at last week’s deadline. The 27-year-old Hickson appeared in only three games for the Nuggets after December 8th, but he made nine early-season starts prior to that, eclipsing the eight starts in 73 appearances he made last year.