WASHINGTON (AP) – Free agent Larry Hughes informed the Washington Wizards that he’s leaving them to join the Cleveland Cavaliers, the guard’s agent said Friday.

“I can confirm that he is committed to coming to terms with the Cleveland Cavaliers,” agent Jeff Wechsler said in a telephone interview.

“We’re still negotiating, but we’ve told Washington that he’s not coming back there,” Wechsler added.

The Cavaliers, who have roughly $28 million to use on the free-agent market, have been looking to sign a shooting guard to complement star LeBron James and take some of the scoring load off him. Cleveland already lost out on Ray Allen of the Seattle SuperSonics and Michael Redd of the Milwaukee Bucks, who both decided to re-sign with their current teams. Hughes was one of the players on James’ wish list of offseason acquisitions.

He’s not the sharpshooter that Allen or Redd are, but made the NBA’s All-Defensive team after leading the league in steals with a 2.89 average. He was second on the Wizards in scoring, averaging 22 points along with 6.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists.

Hughes won’t help the Cavaliers from 3-point range though. He’s a career 27 percent 3-point shooter. Cleveland shot 33 percent from beyond the arc last season, ranking 27th in the league.

But with restricted free agent Joe Johnson likely to be retained by Phoenix, Hughes was the top free agent shooting guard still available.

The Cavaliers now will likely turn their focus to re-signing center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, which general manager Danny Ferry has identified as an offseason priority.

Cavaliers spokesman Tad Carper declined to comment on Hughes, saying the team is not speaking about the free agency process.

A member of the Wizards’ so-called Big Three, along with Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison, Hughes helped Washington reach the playoffs for the first time since 1997. The Wizards’ first-round defeat of the Chicago Bulls was the franchise’s first playoff series victory since 1982.

“Larry’s agent informed us that he will not be returning to the Washington Wizards,” Wizards spokesman Zack Bolno said. “Obviously, we provided Larry with a very fair and meaningful offer.”

Hughes has averaged 15.2 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists over seven NBA seasons with Washington, Golden State and Philadelphia.

AP-ES-07-08-05 1736EDT


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