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Abe Hits Camp

First, some housekeeping issues from the day's first practice: Darius Songaila (pinched nerve in back) missed practice again this morning and will continue to be out until he gets better. Caron Butler suited up and practiced and hurting his left foot at the end of practice yesterday. Jarvis Hayes and DeShawn Stevenson continue to look good on their surgically repaired knees. Jarvis is hyped up about his Georgia Bulldogs playing Tennessee Saturday. He thinks they have a shot if they force some turnovers and don't make mistakes. "We can't turn the ball over. Our defense is tough and I like our special teams."

Other players believe Jarvis secretly covets a career as an NFL quarterback. "That's what he really wants to be doing," Antawn Jamison said. "He's always bringing a football to practice. He think he's Joe Montana or something." Hayes does throw a nice spiral - even with a basketball. Perhaps Eddie should keep that in mind if they ever need to execute a Duke-like last-second play in a big game.

After practice, Jordan talked about his playing rotation. So far, he's pretty much rotated two squads. The first consists of Gilbert Arenas and Stevenson at guard, Caron and Antawn at forward and either Brendan or Etan at center. The second has Antonio Daniels with Hayes at guard, Andray Blatche and Michael Ruffin at forward and either Brendan or Etan. The center spot remains wide open as Jordan has not and will not name a starter for the time being. John Mitchell of the Times and myself asked Gilbert, a.k.a the Puzzler/Agent 0/The Silent Assassin for his opinion on the center situation. Gilbert, for once, took the diplomatic route: "We should start whoever wants to play defense and grab rebounds. That's my answer."

Abe Pollin came to practice and watched from a courtside seat while sitting next to Ernie Grunfeld. Abe, who gave Ernie a four-year extension (the new deal kicks in after the 2008 season so Ernie is here for at least six more years) yesterday, is fired up about his team. He likes Stevenson and Songaila, likes the team's overall depth and believes the experts are sleeping on his squad. Abe also praised Wizards fans, saying he wants to bring them a championship as a reward for their patience.

"Washington is a basketball town," Pollin explained. "If this team starts performing like it's capable of performing, this town is going to go nuts. It's going to go wild. This town is basketball town. If we prove that we can do it, the city is going to go bonkers. And we are going to do it."

Pollin also said he has no intentions of selling the team anytime soon. At least not until he wins another championship. "I'm not in it for the money, I'm in it for the championship. When we win the championship and I said: "when", then maybe I'll think about selling the team but no, I'm not doing it."

By Ivan Carter  |  October 5, 2006; 3:47 PM ET
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Next: Les Wiz Day 4


Ivan, what's the deal with PJ Ramos? I watched the training camp on NBA TV yesterday, and out of 3 hours of coverage, he only was out there 10 mins or so. Is he pretty much a lock to be cut from the team? Who do you see making the 15 man roster of the guys in camp?

Posted by: Robb | October 5, 2006 5:07 PM | Report abuse

What a bunch of BS. I love the Zards with my whole heart. But this nonsense about competing for the East is ridiculous. I can say I want to compete for the AL batting title next year. I can say I want to date Rachel Hunter because she's hot. You can't just say things. Example: We're going to play defense. Yeah? Really? I'm going to play defense too. Why don't we all get in a circle and say "We're going to play defense."

GMEG probably deserves to be GM of the Year for two years running. He got rid of Stackhouse, he didn't pay Hughes $65 mil., he didn't pay Ared Effries $30 mil., he swapped K-Brizzle (who I'm convinced was ruined by Doug Collins...saw that dude dominate Tyson Chandler, Eddy Curry and the rest of those bamas at the ABCD Camp his senior year...he was awesome, skilled with a little J and an awesome shot-blocker) for Carizzle as well as sign Lil' Gilbert. But, he greatly disappointed me this year by not going after Al Harrington or Tyrus Thomas in the draft.

There is only one way this team competes for the East this year: major trade. That is it. If they can somehow trade for Shawn Marion (since Phoenix can't pay him due to Amare, Barbosa, Nash and Diaw), he will definitely be on the block. He fits everything we need...incredible defender (maybe the best I've ever seen) and runs the floor.

You can stand pat if you are one of the Top 3 teams in the conference. Otherwise, you need to improve. What saddens me is that I have waited so long for the tightness...and now we have to deal with LeBrizzle and DWizzle for 10 years. Really sad. Chicago won't be as good as everyone thinks, but they will be real good.

I usually hate the "we need to trade to get better" mentality, but in this case, that is the only way we compete. In the NBA, unlike other leagues, there are three tiers that you are essentially stuck in for 5 years at a time: Tier 1: Contender/Champion; Tier 2: Always make the playoffs but get knocked out in Rds. 1 or 2; Tier 3: lousy team. I feel like we are doomed in Tier 2.


Posted by: The Governor | October 5, 2006 5:52 PM | Report abuse

PJ is sitting solidly behind Brendan, Etan and possibly Calvin Booth right now. I haven't seen a whole lot of him with the first or second team so it's hard to get a read on where he is. At this point, the Wiz may be doing him a disservice by keeping him around. He's stuck behind two guys who are going to playa and third (Booth) who has guaranteed money. Perhaps they should allow him to move on so he can get a shot elsewhere. I see Roger Mason Jr. making this team. That's 13. After that, it could come down to PJ, Donell Taylor, Mike Hall and Kevinn Pinkney. I'm hearing that they may only keep 14 though that could change if Songaila's back becomes a bigger problem and it looks like he may not be on the court for awhile.

Posted by: Ivan | October 5, 2006 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Oh and one thing I forgot to add: Zach Bolno, the intrepid PR man for the Wiz wanted to me inform the public that individual tickets for all 41 games are on sale now. Call 202-397-SEAT. And Governor, I like your take but it's going to take one heck of a negotiation to work a trade for a guy like Marion. I don't see them taking on Jamison's contract and I don't see anyone taking Etan's contract unless he really beasts out early in the season. If he does that, they might as well keep him, know what I'm saying? Thanks for reading and posting. Keep 'em coming guys.

Posted by: Ivan | October 5, 2006 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for all the blogging, Ivan. I'm thrilled with the direction of the Wizards, and attribute a good deall of their recent success to the continuity. Do you think continuity from the top down is overrated?

Posted by: Tuna | October 5, 2006 8:04 PM | Report abuse

2 Governor: how can you say that EG deserves GM of the year and then question his moves (or lack thereof)? I, for one, consider improving internally to be the way to go for the wiz, at least for the moment. This squad does not need major improvements, but minor tweaks, i.e. get boy-wonder to D-up, improve bench scoring, etc. You could sense that our kids have matured over last two seasons and I'm looking forward to this continued trend.

Don't get me wrong, I would love to have Shawn on this team. Or KG. Dwight Howard would be nice too. Better yet, grab all three and coast to a 75 win season. But to your point, it's easier said than done.

I can see something going down next year when Antawn's contract is coming off the books and we have a major trade chip. But for now, I am on board with minor adjustments, which, hopefully, include coaching improvements, as well as personnel.

Posted by: Le bullez | October 6, 2006 9:30 AM | Report abuse

To Le Bullez: You are missing the point, broseph. If you decide to do what we did in the off-season by not going after Harrington or trying to trade up and instead draft a Russian kid who won't even play this year, then fine. Just don't come to media day talking about how you're going to win the East, especially after you lost in the first round to the Cavs when you made it to the second round the year before.

I hate the big trades...your "pick up Dwight Howard and blahblahblah" comment is ridiculous because I am not suggesting that. But if you decide you want to go to the NBA Finals, you need the talent to do it and Ethan - signed to one of the worst contracts of all-time - and Braywood - one of the ten worst offensive players of all time - give you farted-in milk everytime they go out on the floor, then you ain't gonna win the East. In almost everything in the world, there is a pack mentality. So the new buzz word is continuity. Everyone thinks that is the elixir to get a championship. It's true in part, but you can't do it without the talent and stars. Fact. We have one star. We need at least another. I don't like it either but it's the truth. The Blatche talk is hype, man...I watched him last year...he is two years away from 13 pts and 5 rbs. Trust me.

Posted by: The Governor | October 6, 2006 10:15 AM | Report abuse

2 The Governor: I understand why you question Wizards' expectations to win the East, but, IMO, those are aspirations, not expectations. And to aspire to be anything less than the best is the attitude we had here for more than a decade, the wrong kind of attitude.

As far as expectations, yes, we lost to a Cavs team led by LeTravel and helped by the refs. But is that really a poor showing? The 4-2 series was much closer than the record indicates and, if memory serves me right, we went 3-0 vs. Detroit last year, which would have been our next opponent. Is it really beyond the realm of imagination that we can get to the ECF?

And I guess I missed the memo on number of stars required to get to the finals. Detroit seemed to miss that memo too. So did Dallas. Come to think of it, how many teams in the league can boast having two stars? What I do know, is that we have a guy putting up 20 and 10, one of only four in the league, and another one putting up 19, 7, 2.5 and close to 2 steals per game (as a starter). Lets not sell ourselves short here.

Take a look at how we started playing once Antonio and Caron assimilated into the offense. Is it too ambitious to expect further improvement due to continuity? Or take a look at our bench play last season - starters (Ared Efferies included) outscored the bench by a multiple of 3.7, while playing 2.2 times the minutes. For perspective, Dallas' starters played 1.4 times the minutes and scored 2.1 times the points. With the additions of Jarvis, Darius and Deshawn that statistic is bound to improve.

I concede that we are awful in the middle; between the Poet and Brenda we may have a half decent centre if we found a way to fuse them together, ala Yao.  But in a guard oriented offense and officiating changes that favor guard play, those deficiencies are minimized. Kinda.

In any case, I wish Wiz the best and want to thank Ivan for picking up on the Wiz reporting.

Posted by: les bullez | October 6, 2006 4:27 PM | Report abuse

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