Wiz get back to work
Before I get started, has anyone else noticed the uncanny resemblence between my fellow blogger Dan Steinberg and Sam Cassell? I was pondering this today as Dan was doing his thing after practice today.
On to Wiz biz. I spoke with Coach Eddie Jordan and a few of the fellas this afternoon. The news of the day is that Jordan has promoted assistant coach Mike O'Koren to Associate head coach. Not sure if anything really changes but the title is a better one. O'Koren has basically been Eddie's right hand man since he came to DC. He'll still be the guy who slides over and runs the show from the big chair should Eddie get sick or get booted from a game.
Jordan gave Gilbert Arenas the day off so Arenas can recover from some "bumps and bruises" left over from the preseason. Arenas did come in to do some shooting but he broke out before practiced ended. Antawn Jamison's sore right shoulder is feeling better. I watched him go through his normal shooting routine after practice and he looked fine. Rookie foward Mike Hall, the former George Washington star, remains out with a strained right knee. He won't need surgery but he also won't be on the court for awhile. I chatted with Mike for a time outside the lockeroom and he was a little down. He knows that the injury could not have come at a worse time. I covered George Washington two seasons ago when Mike was a junior and I've always liked his game and attitude so I hope things work out for him one way or the other.
The Wiz need to get down from 16 players to no more than 15 players by next Monday and Jordan said he plans on going right up to the deadline before making a move. My guess is that the cut will come down to a decision between Hall and James Lang, who has shown some promise at center. I don't see Donell Taylor getting cut simply because the team has invested a second round pick and a full season in the kid plus, he does have some talent and Calvin Booth has a guaranteed contract.
Jordan did say that he is going to decide on a starting center soon, possibly as soon as tomorrow. He wouldn't confirm that he's going with Etan Thomas but everything indicates that Etan will be the guy. When Eddie makes his decision official, it will be interesting to see how Brendan Haywood handles it becuase he clearly feels that he should be the starter. Brendan said the right things today when he was asked about the possibility of coming off the bench but we'll have to see how it all plays out.
"I feel that I'm a starter but it's not my decision so I have to be ready to go out and help the team however I can," Haywood said. "That's up to Eddie Jordan. Whatever he says, positive or negative."
My take: does it really matter? Both Thomas and Haywood are going to play heavy minutes for this team and I'm sure that the starting role will change hands a few times depending on the ebb and flow of the season and certain matchups. The Wiz are going to need both of them to step up their games if they want to be a 45-50 win team, especially if Darius Songaila remains out for an extended period. Speaking of Darius, I talked to his agent, Mark Bartelstein, yesterday and he basically repeated what the team has been saying: Darius is working hard to rehab the lower back but he's coming along slowly and there is no timetable for a return. Bartelstein said that surgery is not a strong consideration right now but that could change down the road. Either way, it appears that it's going to be a stretch before we see Songaila in a uniform.
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