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Haywood: "I Rank Us Fourth"


By Jonathan Newton - TWP


This was Caron Butler, speaking at the Wizards' 2008 media day: "Healthy, we're the best team in the Eastern Conference. That's how I feel. Hands down, we're the best team in the Eastern Conference if healthy....I feel that strongly. I feel like we're the best team in the Eastern Conference. If healthy, we're the best team in the Eastern Conference."

Well, the "if healthy" part didn't exactly work, so it's hard to judge Caron's statement, but I can go three ways on this. One, because the NBA flying spaghetti monsters hate D.C., the Wizards are never healthy, so the "if" part of this equation is sort of irrelevant. Two, the continued zeppelin of confidence flying around F Street at least fire up the fans and make September and October an exciting time 'round these parts. Or, three, maybe they should win a playoff series first.

Well, Brendan Haywood chooses Option 2. Here's his response yesterday, when asked by ESPN 980's Kevin Sheehan where this year's Wiz should objectively be ranked in the East:

I rank us fourth. I really do. I mean, healthy I would like to say higher than that, but just out of respect for what Boston, Orlando and Cleveland has done, I'm gonna rank us fourth, right behind them. Healthy, I think we can battle with anybody, but just out of respect for what they've done, and the fact that we won 19 games last year, I'm gonna say we're fourth. We're fourth right now.

(I mean, once you're going down the route of what should be, I don't know why he'd let those pesky 19 wins get in the way of his confidence. This current version of the Wiz still revolves around Feb. 1, 2007, when Eddie Jordan earned his all-star bid as the 27-18 Wiz clinched the East's best record at the break. Of course, two days before that Antawn Jamison had gone down with a serious knee injury, and within the next two weeks the Wiz would suffer a 27-point home loss, Haywood and Etan Thomas would fight in practice, Thomas would be suspended, and Gilbert and Jordan would trade barbs through the media about a commitment to defense, leading to a players-only meeting. Not exactly a golden age.)

But forgetting all that, Sheehan asked Haywood what was missing for this team to compete with the East's Big Three.

"We're not missing anything, healthy...." Haywood said. "You look at the facts, we have all the ingredients: we have the superstars, we have the role players, we have a great coach in Flip Saunders with great experience, I think we've upgraded. So at the end of the day, we have what it takes to compete against an Orlando--if healthy. Our problem has been health."

Sure, and the economy's problem has been toxic assets. Well, better too much confidence than too little. Also, Haywood said the deal for Miller and Foye "was a great trade," that "we're gonna have to sign a big guy...just because we're so thin on big men," that "I'd love to have Chris Andersen, the Birdman, but it's probably not in our tax bracket right now," and that he wasn't surprised the Wiz sold their second-round pick because "teams are scaling back money, they're trying to save....Hey, Blair's a great player, I think he's gonna have a good career, but financially, they've got to look at the business end, and that's what's happening right now."

And just to complete the historical record, there was this exchange, near the end of the conversation:

Sheehan: "All right, be as honest as you can with this next question. Etan Thomas isn't on this roster any more. Your feud or your relationship with him has been well-documented over the years, and on your blog after the trade, you made a comment--and I'm paraphrasing here--but you basically wished Songaila well and said that you guys will really miss him. You didn't mention Etan. Happy that Etan's gone?"

Haywood: "Uh, it's one of those situations that it doesn't really matter. It's not a happy he's gone. I mean, I didn't mention him because there was no need to mention him. And that's no disrespect to him, but when I look at our team, he hasn't played the last two years due to injury, unfortunately."

"And then you look at the same thing, he wasn't really tight in our locker room structure. You know, he kind of distanced himself, and we even talked to him about it, like, 'We feel like you don't feel like you're part of the team.' So he distanced himself from the team. So you look out there, we're gonna miss Songaila because he's played and played well the last couple years, and we're gonna miss him because he went out with guys to eat, he went out to the comedy shows and to the mall, he hung out, he was an integral part of our team. While Etan didn't play, and he didn't have that many close friends, so, we're not gonna miss him.

"And that's nothing about our [personal] business, our business is our business and the past is the past, we settled that. So there's not any problem with him as a person. I think the trade actually works out well for him, because I think he has a trade kicker where he gets more money, so that's great in this economy, any time you can make more money. And then he has a chance to play, where he wasn't gonna play here."

Left unsaid: Whether Haywood will miss Pech, and whether Pech went to the comedy shows. I'm guessing he did.

By Dan Steinberg  |  June 30, 2009; 8:34 AM ET
Categories:  Wizards  
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Comments

First?

Posted by: WVU11 | June 30, 2009 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Why the need for a comedy club? They could have just watched their previous game(s).

Posted by: fearturtle44 | June 30, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

IF HEALTHY. IF.

Posted by: rachel216 | June 30, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

If we can't get the red, white and blue back - can we at least have the Zephyrs uniforms? Those were nice.

Posted by: Kev29 | June 30, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Good article and I have to agree with Haywood's assessment, but I would be surprised if the Birdman came here just because he doesn't seem like a player Abe Poland would want.

That's all the wiz really need is a solid big man coming off the bench, defense minded, body knocking. Like an Adonal Foyle type.

The icing to the cake would be some guard (at least James) trades for a significant big man. Not sure what that would be but it's got to be out there somewhere.

Posted by: boblas | June 30, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

god the Zephyr uniforms look lame.

Posted by: alex35332 | June 30, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

The icing to the cake would be some guard (at least James) trades for a significant big man. Not sure what that would be but it's got to be out there somewhere.

Posted by: boblas | June 30, 2009 10:02 AM

If we're trading guards for a significant big man - Caron would probably have to be in there.

Anderson (on the court) would be perfect in free agency. Poster above is correct - Anderson's off the court past is not something Abe would be pleased with.

Posted by: Kev29 | June 30, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Haywood is on drugs POINT BLANK.....The makeup of this team now would STRUGGLE to get to ninth place in the East....Challenging the Cavs, Celtics, and Magic right now with what we have....PLEASE....someone tell Brendan Todd Haywood to just SHUT UP!

Posted by: ejharrisjr40 | June 30, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

I have to question some of the logic about the Wizards 'having it all' when it appears they are short on rebounding and interior defense up front.

At the same time the Wizards did manage to get to the playoffs two years ago without Gilbert and with other players down with injuries.

I think the fact the team has lost to Cleveland 3 times in the playoffs is a red herring because the Cavaliers had their best players on the court in all 3 series while Washington did not.

That is like saying the 1989 Pistons were really 4-0 good against the Lakers. The truth is Byron Scott and then Magic Johnson missed most of the Finals series and the Pistons rolled against a team devoid of its backcourt.

Posted by: leopard09 | June 30, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

I think this interview went straight from God to BTH to Dan to the Miami Heat bulletin board.

Posted by: Kev29 | June 30, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Let's see, the Wiz have three seven footers, and one of them says they are thing on big men.

Haywood. Must. Go.

Posted by: StetSportsBlog | June 30, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Hey, Blair's a great player, I think he's gonna have a good career, but financially, they've got to look at the business end, and that's what's happening right now."
-BTH-

I hope he's this understanding next summer if he doesn't perform this year.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | June 30, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

That's all the wiz really need is a solid big man coming off the bench, defense minded, body knocking. Like an Adonal Foyle type.

Posted by: boblas | June 30, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

last time i wanna hear foyle's name today. yall will be so sick if he wears a wiz uni next season. worse than ruffin, worse than ike austin, worse than cal booth worse than PJR(?).

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | June 30, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Haywood is on drugs POINT BLANK.....The makeup of this team now would STRUGGLE to get to ninth place in the East....Challenging the Cavs, Celtics, and Magic right now with what we have....PLEASE....someone tell Brendan Todd Haywood to just SHUT UP!

Posted by: ejharrisjr40 | June 30, 2009 10:29 AM |

You're the one on drugs if you think this team would struggle to get to ninth place in the East. Did you just become a fan of this team last season? Me thinks the answer is yes.

Posted by: Barno1 | June 30, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Let's see, the Wiz have three seven footers, and one of them says they are thing on big men.

Haywood. Must. Go.

Posted by: StetSportsBlog | June 30, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

We have two seven footers, not three. And ANYONE with half a brain would say we are "thing" (sic) on big men.

You're not a fan of this team if you think Haywood must go. Simple as that. Haywood leaving would leave us with no starting center, not to mention one of the top 20 centers on the planet.

Get a clue.

Posted by: Barno1 | June 30, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Too bad, Blair could have been the Birdman coming off bench for the Wizards. How much can a 2nd rounder eat into your salary?

Foyle? Forget it!

Posted by: sagaliba | June 30, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Haywoods interview is spot on Hater Generation.

It tells us finally why Etan Thomas never developed chemistry on the floor for this Team. He was all about himself.

I'm glad he's gone so I won't have to groan and curse out loud when he comes in the game.

And yes he is right on about being rated 4th best in the East.

You see a lot of you haters keep judging these players from the perspective of being non-coached by Eddie and Ed T.

You are basing your assumptions on flawed performances.

Haywood is on the money in his evaluations.

Barno1, I am just incredulous at folks here that are supposedly Wizard Fans, but they bash them every chance they get based on opinionated unsubstanted facts.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | June 30, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

that is... unsubstantiated facts.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | June 30, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

fearturtle44 beat me to it...Etan was at the comedy shows - I seem to remember seeing him wearing a suit sitting at the end of the bench at the comedy shows.

Pech was the man.

Posted by: rgm34 | June 30, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

How much can a 2nd rounder eat into your salary?

Posted by: sagaliba | June 30, 2009 11:24 AM

About 1.6 million when you double it with luxury tax.

Posted by: Kev29 | June 30, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Jeez, I wonder what improvements Haywood is working on this summer, apart from his vocals.

All the Wiz need is a veteran third string center who can defend, rebound and give 6 fouls to Shaq and Howard.

Posted by: Izman | June 30, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

I would like to think we're 2nd or 3rd in the East this season.

Boston struggled to get out of the 1st round last year and those guys aren't getting any younger. We saw what happened to Garnett as his body broke down last year. Re-signing Big Baby will be difficult once free agency begins tomorrow. And they have been trying to move Ray Allen--doesn't that tell us something? This team had a two-year window when they brought the Big Three together, they got their championship and they had a nice run last year but the window has closed on this team. Look for them to take a major step back next year, then rebuild a year from now.

Orlando is a totally different team next year after they screwed up that great chemistry that got them to the finals by trading away Rafer Alson, Courtney Lee, Tony Battie and letting Turkoglu and possible Gortat go, while bringing in a guy not known as a team player in an aging Vince Carter. They get Nelson back, who was not a part of their run to the finals. Their chemistry is gone, so don't expect them to be back atop the conference next year.

As for Cleveland, as much as it pains me to admit this--they're still going to be the cream of the crop in 09/10 and for my money are the odds on favorite to win the championship.

Chicago, Miami, Philly, and Washington are the teams that will compete with Orlando to be the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th best teams in the East. Getting a top 4 seed in the playoffs is crucial for the Wizards, as we have all seen how difficult it is to advance without homecourt advantage.

But with a healthy, improved, roster with one of the best coaches in NBA history (record-wise) we should be right there in the mix for a top 4 seed come April, 2010.

Posted by: Barno1 | June 30, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't know how the Wiz compare to other teams -- but I can take a guess at how they compare to last season's Wiz.

They helped themselves a lot, I think.

1. They got a veteran guard in Foye who can play the point as well as the 2 -- alongside Gilbert, or instead of him. Foye suffered a little defensively against quicksilver types like Chris Paul and Tony Parker, but he's a big strong guy (215 lbs) who can defend either position. And he's only a four year man.

2. They got a vet in Miller shoots well enough to play the 2 and rebounds well enough to spend some time at the 3. He can come off the bench or start.

3. They gave up Darius, but he wasn't the player they needed inside -- not enough offense. They still need inside scoring to pull the defenders back from the perimeter.

4. Last season suggested that the Big 3 may really be the Big 4, with Haywood being as important to the team as the others, if only because there's nobody behind him. Etan was once a valuable guy, but even with Brendan out all last year, he averaged 13 minutes in only 26 games. Not a factor, and neither was Pecherov.

5. The Trade was based on the two teams having different agendas. Minnesota is more concerned with their roster in 2012-13 than this coming season. The Wiz have to win now. Nobody in this year's draft class -- except Blake Griffin -- was going to get Washington to contender status. Remember how disappointed we all were with the 5th pick? With good reason, it turned out. Could have been us instead of the Wolves, waiting for Ricky Rubio to make up his mind.

6. If there's a good bench big man out there, I can't think who it is. Ronny Turiaf, Chris Anderson, a few others whose names escape me -- nobody in Marcus Camby's league, and I have a funny feeling Camby is going to stay in LA.

Posted by: Samson151 | June 30, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Chris Anderson would be a great fit on this team. I believe that as a professional athlete given a second chance to play in the league, grows up and leave the off-court troubles behind him.
He definitely would not be a Wes Unseld guy for sure if Wes was still in the picture but right now, it's WIN NOW! Tats will not cause you to lose 60+ games.

The Birdman will bring consistant energy off the bench, more than Blatche or McGee will bring any night until they really get what it takes.

Ranked fourth is a possibility!
Atlanta is a ?
Miami ditto
Chicago..?
Philly..will Eddie Jordan get these guys to play?
Detroit..age
Indiana..has not gotten it together
Charlotte...ownership
Mil Bucks..they will miss Rich Jefferson
NJ..no Vince
Toronto..young
NY..depending on chemistry

ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!

Posted by: Doobie_Sparks | June 30, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Is the signing of Turkoglu impossible given the salary cap situation? If not, I would love to see him with the Wiz.

Posted by: chopin224 | June 30, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

We don't need Turkoglu, already have 2 of him already in Miller and Jamison--both of whom are as good if not better shooters, and both rebound better than him.

I'd like to see us get Antonio McDyess. Though he's getting up there at 34 years old, he did get 10 rebounds a game last year mostly off the bench. It's about time we stole a Piston rather than the other way around.

Posted by: Barno1 | June 30, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

If that if was a fifth we'd all be drunk.... The Wiz must get rid of Mike James and his contract. In order to get a Big. I suggest they wait and then look at Channing Frye they could also use another defender who can defend multiple positions and add toughness. Look at Matt Barnes or Ume Udoka.

Posted by: jtrob_1 | June 30, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Drew Gooden.....take the luxury tax hit and then try to move James along with with one of our young guys (NY or AB) to offset signing Gooden. It can be done, but EG has to be bold.

Posted by: wizfan89 | June 30, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

That would mean taking Crittenden over Young or Blatch...I wouldn't do that and Godden has not really had the impact he could. I like Gooden, but I like blatch more with the proper work ethic and coaching. Get rid of James and Crittenden. You have Gil, Foye, DS, and NY Foye and NY is a nice backcourt of the futrue.

Posted by: jtrob_1 | June 30, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

You're the one on drugs if you think this team would struggle to get to ninth place in the East. Did you just become a fan of this team last season? Me thinks the answer is yes.

Posted by: Barno1 | June 30, 2009 11:16 AM

Barno, you wanna go there, so we will go there. I have been a Bullets fan (they need to get away from Wizards since I was child (6 years old, I am now 42). I have seen them in the Title round THREE times in my lifetime, and neither of those have been in my adulthood. My children think they SUCK. They have no idea of how the franchise got that way.....If you really believe that a team with SEVEN guards (two of them swingmen) with THREE pivots will WIN championships I question your knowledge of this sport. That lineup would not WIN a NCAA or National High School Title (did I mention the Maryland Terrapins basketball team ran that type of team last year. Yes, they made the NCAA tourney, but they had absolutely NO BUSINESS being there with the same makeup. Memphis proved that).

Posted by: ejharrisjr40 | June 30, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

If you really believe that a team with SEVEN guards (two of them swingmen) with THREE pivots will WIN championships I question your knowledge of this sport.

Posted by: ejharrisjr40 | June 30, 2009 2:19 PM

If you really believe that this team will have seven guards with three pivots this season I question your knowledge in life. No serious Wizards fan with an IQ above a toaster believes the Wizards are going into this season with 7 guards and 3 big men.

But then again, I don't believe anyone who thinks "the Wizards will struggle to be the 9th place team in the East" has an IQ above a toaster.

Posted by: Barno1 | June 30, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Get rid of James and Crittenden. You have Gil, Foye, DS, and NY Foye and NY is a nice backcourt of the futrue.

Posted by: jtrob_1 | June 30, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Getting rid of James is a given. However, they shouldn't get rid of Critt. We've learned far too many times how dangerous it is to only have 2 point guards on the roster. Not to mention that Critt demonstrated last year why he will be the eventual back up to Gilbert Arenas.

Posted by: Barno1 | June 30, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

If you really believe that this team will have seven guards with three pivots this season I question your knowledge in life. No serious Wizards fan with an IQ above a toaster believes the Wizards are going into this season with 7 guards and 3 big men.

But then again, I don't believe anyone who thinks "the Wizards will struggle to be the 9th place team in the East" has an IQ above a toaster.

Posted by: Barno1 | June 30, 2009 3:37 PM

Barno, I would hope you are correct. However, I trust Ernie Grunfeld as much as I do Vinny Cerrato.....NOT!!!!!! I have watched this franchise commit too many blunders over the years (and I had season tickets for some of those at the old Capital Centre)to believe it until I SEE IT! Trust me, I would rather you be correct, but I am very concerned about the GM. Remember, there was a reason the Knickerbockers and Bucks FIRED him.

Posted by: ejharrisjr40 | June 30, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Barno, I would hope you are correct. However, I trust Ernie Grunfeld as much as I do Vinny Cerrato.....NOT!!!!!! I have watched this franchise commit too many blunders over the years (and I had season tickets for some of those at the old Capital Centre)to believe it until I SEE IT! Trust me, I would rather you be correct, but I am very concerned about the GM. Remember, there was a reason the Knickerbockers and Bucks FIRED him.

Posted by: ejharrisjr40 | June 30, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Bro, Ernie Grunfeld's teams have been to playoffs 16 times in 18 years prior to this year. He built 3 NBA teams nearly from scratch and made all of them into perennial playoff teams, with 4 of those teams going to the conference finals and twice the NBA finals. And what has happened to the Knicks and Bucks ever since he left?

What you and a great many Wizards fans can not seem to comprehend is that Ernie Grunfeld is widely regarded as one of the best executives in the NBA.

I understand fans being concerned about our health, our defense, our front court depth (until we sign/trade someone), but for ANY serious fan to be concerned with our GM that is just utter nonsense.

Posted by: Barno1 | June 30, 2009 9:10 PM | Report abuse

Grunfield got out of his contract a year early with the bucks to come to a big money market like DC

The Knicks let him go after an appearence in the NBA Finals because he wasn't gelling with the coaching staff and they had to make a decision.

You don't deserve to hit the submit button.

Posted by: hardiboiled | June 30, 2009 9:24 PM | Report abuse

ejharrisjr40 = payaso

Posted by: hardiboiled | June 30, 2009 9:27 PM | Report abuse

anyone who thinks EG is the problem is completely crazy. EG is the person mainly responsible behind turning this organization around. Sure every decision he has made hasn't worked, but the deals to get Jaimson and Caron were excellent. His ability to see Arenas real worth was also excellent. Few executives can say they have made such masterful moves.

I think people give Cleveland too much credit. They are making moves out of desperation. Getting Shaq will not work out. They remind me of the Lakers when they were trying to slap Payton and Malone on the team. Orlando is questionable if they don't keep Turkolu, but getting VC will work out nicely for them. Brendan is right we are 4th in the East.

Posted by: kuruption_20877 | July 1, 2009 12:41 AM | Report abuse

anyone who thinks EG is the problem is completely crazy. EG is the person mainly responsible behind turning this organization around. Sure every decision he has made hasn't worked, but the deals to get Jaimson and Caron were excellent. His ability to see Arenas real worth was also excellent. Few executives can say they have made such masterful moves.

Posted by: kuruption_20877 | July 1, 2009 12:41 AM

Not to mention Grunfeld also let Larry Hughes walk when this whole town was screaming for him to sign the guy to a ridiculously overpriced contract. How did Larry turn out in Cleveland?

And on top of this, he's made several excellent draft choices, including McGee last year and 2nd round steals in McGuire and Blatche in years before that. Hell, this is the man that found perennial all star Michael Redd in the 2nd round, who along with Arenas, is considered one of the greatest 2nd round picks EVER.

But yeah, I'm real "worried" about our GM. Dir da dir da dir...

Posted by: Barno1 | July 1, 2009 1:10 AM | Report abuse

Wizards are at best 6th in the east but more likely 7 or 8 IF they are healthy:

1. Orlando
2. Cleveland
3. Boston
4. Chicago/Miami
5. Miami/chicago
6. Atlanta/Philadelphia/Wizards
7. Philadelphia/Atlanta/Wizards
8.Wizards/Philadelphia/Atlanta

Posted by: kevenjones | July 1, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

It appears that the Wiz will not try to sign Sheed or McDyess, neither try to use their mid-level exception on Chris Wilcox (who I like) or Zaza Pachulia. Yet, they may try to sign a veteran using the minimum $1.3 million on a player like Drew Gooden (nope), Joe Smith (YES!), Michael Ruffin (not again), Sean May (Big Buffet May), Brandon Bass (maybe), and Mikki Moore (nah). A few of these guys would give the Wiz extra fouls, an occasional jump shot, blocked shots, and of course rebounds.

A package deal including Mike James may come about before camp opens. Keeping JCritt (my main man) would be wise for insurance and DMac is no doubt a keeper.

Going to be a long summer waiting to see what happens because Ernie is not going to make a Danny Snyder/Vinny Cerrato splash (FIRST to get the big fish)!

Posted by: Doobie_Sparks | July 1, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

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