1:45pm: The signing is official, the team announced.
“Marcus brings experience and shooting to our backcourt and helps us fill a void caused by Gary’s injury with another veteran player,” Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld said. “His skill set will allow him to fit right into our system and give our offense another option.”
11:19am: The Wizards and Marcus Thornton have agreement on a deal that covers the rest of the season, league sources tell Shams Charania of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Washington is waiving the injured Gary Neal to make room, as Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported minutes ago. The deal will give Thornton the minimum salary, tweets Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post.
Earlier reports identified the Heat and Cavaliers, but not the Wizards, as teams with interest in the seventh-year veteran who recently cleared waivers from the Rockets. The Heat’s path to tax flexibility has since closed, cutting off the team’s ability to sign him for another month without a heavy financial outlay. The Wizards appear to offer Thornton a better shot at playing time than the Cavaliers would, given the hip injury that’s plaguing Bradley Beal this week, though that appears to be only a short-term ailment.
Washington isn’t in position to bide its time as it sits in 10th place, two and a half games out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Thornton is allowed to play in the postseason if the Wizards make it, since the Rockets waived him a few days before the March 1st, the cutoff date for playoff-eligibility.
Thornton’s minutes went up and down this year with Houston, a source of frustration to him, and the team was to send him to Detroit in the voided Donatas Motiejunas trade. The Pistons reportedly didn’t plan to make him part of the rotation, but he’s been productive when called upon this season, averaging 10.0 points in 18.8 minutes per contest across 47 appearances.
The Wizards had the ability to exceed the minimum salary for Thornton, since they have a disabled player exception worth nearly $2.806MM left over from Martell Webster‘s season-ending injury, which expires Thursday, plus a prorated sliver of the mid-level exception. However, they’re only about $500K shy of the luxury tax line, and it’s doubtful they’ll cross that.