Al Harrington has signed with the Fujian Sturgeons of the Chinese Basketball Association, but the forward said he'd like to finish the year with the Washington Wizards, via CSN Washington's J. Michael Falgoust:
"I wanted to play there next year," Harrington said of Washington. "You look at some of the signings and stuff like that, so instead of me sitting the bench I just felt, 'Let me re-invent myself for real.' My knee feels good. My body feels good. The Chinese situation is where they're going to need me to score 30 points a night instead of playing 10 minutes, being 1-for-3 on threes and go sit down. It's an opportunity to go out and play the game the way I want to play at a high level. The CBA isn't the NBA but it's high-quality basketball and it's respectable. It's a chance to go out and push my body and see what I've truly got left.
"Last week I finally started feeling comfortable about it rather than just sitting here, waiting to see if I would sign with the Wizards. Would it before training camp or after training camp? I had to make a decision. There were other (NBA) offers out there but it wasn't with teams that were going to win. At this point in my career I can't be playing just to play. I've got to be playing for something. Playing for the Wizards I think we -- I mean, they -- had a chance to come out of the East. Maybe when I come back from China I can join them for the rest of the season. That's where I got my fingers crossed, hoping it'll happen."
Harrington clearly wanted to be a part of what the Wizards were building, as last year they made the playoffs for the first time since 2008 and advanced to the second round for the first time since 2005. He served as a summer league assistant coach for Washington in Las Vegas last month, which was a natural thing to do after being a mentor for the team's young players.
The veteran sees himself transitioning to coaching with the Wizards eventually, according to Bleacher Report's Jared Zwerling.
The 34-year-old could have had some value on the court for Washington as a stretch four, but it's possible that free-agent addition Paul Pierce could play that role. The team decided not to offer him a contract, though it was "open to him joining the coaching staff," according to CSN Washington.
With DeJuan Blair and Kris Humphries joining the team, frontcourt minutes would have been scarce anyway. The Wizards do have an open roster spot, though, which means down the stretch of the season it's conceivable that they'd choose to use it on Harrington when he returns from China.
The CBA regular season ends in mid-Febraury, and the finals conclude around the end of March.