Wiz Insider: Hayes update and more
Just returned from Verizon Center where the Wizards practiced before getting on plane to Chicago for tomorrow night's game against the Bulls. The good news for Wiz fans is that guard Jarvis Hayes practiced and is feeling "fine" following last night's game. If you read my blog from this morning, I mentioned that Hayes was unable to quickly bounce back following a strong performance in a preseason game last fall and he wound up re-injuring his knee in December. For now at least, Jarvis appears to be in good shape.
The team made one roster move today, cutting rookie forward Kevinn Pinkney. Pinkney did not play in Monday's game against the Toronto Raptors. The Wizards will bring 16 players with to Chicago. Forward Darius Songaila will stay back and continue to rest his back. There is nothing new to report on Songaila's condition but it appears that he's moving around a lot better than he was last week in Richmond.
Spoke with Caron Butler after practice this morning and he revealed that the thumb injury he suffered at the end of last season was worse than anyone knew. Turns out, Butler broke a bone in the thumb and even after missing five games, he said it was "60 -70 percent" strength in the playoff series against Cleveland. Butler and the Wiz labeled the injury a "sprain" for obvious competitive reasons.
"I didn't want anyone knowing how bad it was because then guys would've been hacking at it every chance they got." And some people think that kind of thing only happens in the NHL.
Butler said the thumb is healed and doesn't give him any problems now. Hurting a thumb can be a serious problem when it comes to playing basketball which is something I recently learned. I was playing at LA sports club a few weeks back and caught my right (shooting) thumb on someone's jersey. As soon as the thing starts to feel better, I whack it on the ball or get it crunched by another player. It hurts like crazy which makes me respect Butler even more for how he gritted his teeth and played with that thing in that Cleveland series. He's a tough dude.
Following practice, Eddie Jordan said he liked the way his first team got started last night but said he wants a better showing out of his second unit against the Bulls tomorrow night. He also wants to see better offensive execution overall.
By the way, Jordan might be getting tired of hearing about how great the Bulls are going to be this season. When I asked him what he wants to see tomorrow night he said: "Man, I just hope we can score in double figures." "You mean, you want to score 10 or 11 points?" I asked, sensing his sarcasm and playing along.
"Yeah," he replied. "I'm just hoping we can score in double figures. That's the goal."
My take: Eddie's as nice a coach as you'll meet in pro sports (and I covered Dick Vermeil, Al Saunders and the Chiefs for five years) but that doesn't mean he lacks edge. Anyone who saw Eddie go off in Cleveland during the playoffs last season knows that.
I also sense that while Eddie is not a glory hound and does not go out of his way to toot his own horn like some coaches around the league, he does feel a certain lack of respect from some in the media and in the NBA. The man believes he and his coaches are good and he thinks he has a strong team. If I'm a Wizards fan, I like that attitude coming from the head man and believe me, I think it's starting to run through the whole team. It will be interesting to see how that plays out this season now that Eddie has the security that comes with a contract extension.
And you can add Antawn Jamison to the ever growing list of players who hate the NBA's new synthetic ball. I asked Jamison what he thought about playing with the new rock in game conditions last night.
"Terrible," he said, puckering up his face as though he'd just eaten a bad batch of lettuce. "Every time you go to make a quick move, it feels like the ball is going to slip out of your hands. I hate it."
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