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."

By Ivan Carter |  October 10, 2006; 1:38 PM ET
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Will the Wizards ink an extension with Hayes before the end of October? Grunfeld's history is that he waits and isn't proactive on these extensions, and then ends up paying more or losing the player when the player hits free agency (Etan, Jeffries, Hughes, etc.). If Hayes is healthy this year, his price really is going to go up. My take is that if the team is serious about gunning for a championship, they gamble on Hayes' talent and health and extend him now. If it is more worried about keeping costs down or clearing cap space for when Jamison's deal ends, they wait and see if they can afford Hayes after the season.

Posted by: Sean | October 10, 2006 2:49 PM

When will the SKins get Al Saunders offense down? Next year?

Posted by: JB | October 10, 2006 3:02 PM

When will the Skins get Al Saunders offense down? Next year?

Posted by: jb | October 10, 2006 3:03 PM

Everything will hinge on whether or not Jarvis can stay healthy and we won't know that until the second half of the season. Remember, Jarvis made it to December last season and then he went down during the west coast trip. So far, everything points to him being in good shape. We'll see. I wouldn't throw huge money his way until I know that he'll be around. Remember, Stevenson is on a one year deal so they may want to keep some money free to lock him up if he performs well.

Posted by: Ivan | October 10, 2006 3:13 PM

As for your question about Saunders jb, I'd say this: remember that it was his second season with the Chiefs when that offense really took off. Then again, it helped that the Chiefs added Eddie Kennison late that first year and then stole LT Willie Roaf from the Saints the following summer. From what I've seen, the Skins offensive line is nowhere near as good as those KC offensive lines were, particularly at the two tackle spots. With Roaf and Brian Waters over there, Trent Green never even got touched from the backside (Honestly, I remember Roaf giving up maybe two or three sacks in the four seasons he was there) and Priest Holmes did huge damage on draws and screens behind Roaf, Waters and Tony Richardson. Then again, the Skins receivers are better than anything Saunders had in KC. It's not even close. I know it's not what anyone wants to hear but it could be a full season before everything clicks.

Posted by: Ivan | October 10, 2006 3:18 PM

Well then Antawn is REALLY going to hate the ball when he actually makes one of these rumored "quick moves".

Posted by: tanforanalbino | October 10, 2006 5:43 PM


First: really happy to have this blog. Between you, the other WPost sports 'bog' and wizardsdotcom --(the official Wizards web maven, who keeps a Wiz video library on youtube and regularly posts at realgm.com)-- it's finally possible to keep up with the near real-time minutia of the squad. Thanks man.

Gil had an interesting take about the Bulls on the Brian Mitchell show (see the podcasts section at sportstalk980.com). He wasn't impressed with the BigBen-for-Chandler swap, on the principle that the Windy City Steer were now kinda small up front. (6'9" Big Ben vs. a young 7' Chandelier)

Of course he included the loss of Eddie Curry as part of his critique, so, you know: consider it more 'Gilbertology' I suppose.

Posted by: doclinkin | October 11, 2006 1:04 AM

Hey Doc! What's up? (see how politely I avoided saying "What's up Doc?")

Ivan, if you get a chance, please ask Brendan Haywood very nicely to stop taking fadeaway jumpers? He only seems to hit it when he's a stride inside the box, any farther than that and it's a super low percentage shot.

Brendan, your hook shot is your bread and butter -- take it! I don't care how goofy it makes you look/feel. You should take five hook shoots for every fadeaway.

Posted by: Zonker | October 11, 2006 11:47 AM

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