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Warrior fever

I just flew into Oakland for tonight's crucial game 6 between the Warriors and Mavericks. Anyone who has watched the series so far would agree that it has featured great basketball and some really good juicy storylines. The interesting thing about the Warriors to me, as a beat writer who covers the Wizards, is how this team pulled itself together after that crushing and controversial loss at Verizon Center on March 4.

That was the game when a touch foul was called on Caron Butler at one end, allowing Al Harrington to make to big free throws to tie the score and then Golden State's Pietrus was called for a foul on a driving Gilbert in the final seconds. Don Nelson protested that call with a naughty word or two, was hit with a tech and Gilbert made all three free throws to give the Wiz a win. The Warriors walked off the court thinking they'd been ripped off.

I, and just about everyone else, thought the Warriors were done at that point. They were already tanking and Nellie had recently declared their season over saying he felt he'd failed to get the job done. Now look where that team is two months later. Amazing.

As for the Wizards, I've taken a couple of days to try and process everything that went on down the stretch. Obviously, with eight free agents, a disgruntled center and a flaky star guard who is putting pressure on the front office to put a real contender together, it could be a very interesting summer. My guy instinct on Brendan Haywood and Etan Thomas is that Ernie will be taking and making calls looking to move at least one of them. What he won't do is declare that either one has to go.

I clearly remember following the 2004-2005 season asking Ernie how he could consider bringing back Kwame Brown after Brown essentially quit on the team during the playoffs and Ernie, wisely, gave the pc answer about emotions and how time can heal wounds etc. Then, he put together a steal of a deal that brought Butler and Chucky Atkins to DC for Kwame.

Brendan clearly doesn't want to play for Eddie Jordan anymore and Eddie Jordan clearly is tired of Brendan's act. The issue will be whether Ernie believes he can get fair value for a 27-year old 7-footer who is making $16.5 mill over the next three years. Regardless of Brendan's limitations, attitude, etc, that's chump change for a guy like him in this league.

A couple of other things to consider: the Wiz will sign and bring Oleksiy Pecherov over for summer league and camp. The second rounder, Vladimir Veremeenko, could play in summer league as well though I haven't confirmed that yet. Nothing new to say about Juan Carlos Navarro other than the wants to come over but has a huge buyout (I hear it's as large as $10 million) and the Wiz can only pay $500,000 of it.

Several of the writers I've spoken with seem to agree that there will be a bunch of trades taking place this summer, more than usual. Because things were relatively calm at the trade deadline during the season and because teams don't have a ton of money to throw around in free agency, we're going to see a ton of wheeling and dealing as teams look to tweak their rosters. Rumors will fly everyone so be careful of what you believe. I promise to keep you posted all the biz with the Wiz.

...One more thing, give me Mayweather on Saturday night. I like Oscar but there is substitute for speed and Floyd has too much of it for Oscar at this point in his career.


By Ivan Carter  |  May 3, 2007; 4:20 PM ET
 
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Comments

With Pecherov, our draft pick, and a possible Haywood trade, that's 3 new contributors for next season. Fit them around the Big 3, AD, and Songaila, and we may have the makings of a good team.

I could care less about Stevenson, Hayes, Blatche etc., I don't think it will impact the team one way or the other if they are back or not.

Posted by: juandixonformvp | May 3, 2007 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Ivan,

We need Corey Brewer on our squadron. We need to move up in the draft and get him. Maybe Haywood and our first for whoever has the 7th pick for example. Is that fair? Not sure. Sounds fair to me. But to me, Corey Brewer is one of the answers to our problems. We are not going to get a valuable big man. We just aren't. So we need to look elsewhere. Bernard King and I have been saying for months, before the last draft, that we needed to do everything in our power to get Tyrus Thomas. In retrospect, I believe we were absolutely right.

Now I am making the Corey Brewer call early. I have not felt this strongly about a player coming in and helping us without disturbing chemistry in a looooong time. Brewer all the way.

Also, De La Hoya with a knockout late. I love boxing. Watched Baldomir/Mayweather, and Mayweather showed me his weakness. Caution. De La Hoya will summon the demons from the Trinidad fight and vanquish the young buck.

Posted by: The Governor | May 3, 2007 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Ivan:
The Kwame trade is an interesting comparison in a couple of respects to help figure out what Haywood's market value might be.

First, what if Grunfeld wasn't offered Butler? Would he have made the best deal he could, let Kwame go, or resigned Kwame and tried to trade in the future? (I guess the difference here is that Kwame was a free agent.)

Second, was Kwame a more attractive player at 3 years, $8 or 9 million per year (the deal the Lakers signed) than Haywood is at 3 years, $5.5 million per year? Kwame has/had a higher ceiling, which probably means that he could command more. But Haywood is a solid center with a proven track record of being very durable in a league where there aren't that many guys like that. As far as his attitude, I don't recall whether he had any difficulties with Doug Collins. What I'm wondering is whether some other teams might just chalk it up to an EJ thing rather than a real problem with Haywood.

Third, I wonder if the EJ-EG relationship is such that Grunfeld is thinking, "I've got to get rid of Haywood for EJ's sake," or "I'll see what I can do, but if I can't get a fair deal, I'm not going to make myself look bad with a lousy deal, and EJ will just have to deal with it."

Posted by: Sean | May 3, 2007 5:26 PM | Report abuse

It seems to me moving up 10 spots in the draft would take a lot more than Haywood and a #16 pick.

I'm certain they can get *something* worthwhile for Haywood, but it gets tricky when the goal is another center. The Kwame Brown trade worked out great but that was facillitated by Kwame being big and athletic.

I can see the Wizards getting plenty of offers for Haywood (and perhaps even Thomas), but offers that will leave them better off at center? Maybe the hope is nothing more than finding another center of equal caliber who's not a "distraction." not sure that's ultimately gonna be the move that gets them a championship-caliber center. and even worse is the prospect of the Wizards being worse off at the center position after trading Haywood.

Grunfeld's got his work cut out for him.

Posted by: but what do i know? | May 3, 2007 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Sean,

Haywood and the pick won't get you anywhere near Corey Brewer. You'd probably need to throw in next year's #1. As I see it, that's what we need anyway. The Wiz need one thing, and it's a solid, defensive center.

That being said, what about a deal for Jermaine O'Neal? It seems pretty likely the Pacers are going to move him this summer. He's a great defensive player, and provides plenty of offense, too. Maybe Blatche, Haywood and our #1 get it done?

Posted by: Keithinator | May 3, 2007 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Sean, sorry. Meant to address my comment about Brewer to The Governor, not you.

Posted by: Keithinator | May 3, 2007 5:55 PM | Report abuse

To move Haywood for something good, Grunfeld will need to trade big for small, like he did with Kwame for Butler. I can't imagine he could swing a deal where he traded Haywood for a BETTER big.

Posted by: Sean | May 3, 2007 6:03 PM | Report abuse

I just know we need Corey Brewer. We need to get someone of impact in this draft. We really do. I look at Jordan Farmar and I see immediate contributor. I look at Blatche and Pecherov and Navarro and whatever other dude and I see projects with high probability of flameout. I think Blatche has it but he is no doubt still a project. We need contribution. Do what it takes to get Brewer.

Posted by: The Governor | May 3, 2007 6:39 PM | Report abuse

I heard on the radio (for what it's worth) that the Lakers will make a play for Jermaine O'Neal. Can't remember who the "expert" is that made this prediction but he also thinks that MN will try to hold onto Garnett for one more year.

Posted by: Lisa | May 3, 2007 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Lisa,

I'm sure a lot of teams will make a play. But we probably have more to offer, including more desirable players (unless LA's willing to include Odom, which I doubt they'd do) and a higher draft pick. And it's Ernie vs. Mitch: I like our chances, if both teams bid.

Posted by: Keithinator | May 3, 2007 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Having Corey Brewer would be nice, but he's a luxury, not a necessity. We already have too many scorers on this team and not enough defenders. Also, Corey Brewer likes to take shots from the outside rather than play above the rim. Corey will be gone by the 5th pick.

Keep this in mind. This team needs bulk, size, and athleticism. Lets not get caught up in sexy picks.

Posted by: Rico | May 3, 2007 9:06 PM | Report abuse

yes, i imagine a trade involving Haywood, the 16th pick and Blatche or Pecherov could yield a nice big man in return.

the wizards have some young talent that could blossom in a few years, but the prospect of combining a legit big man with the Big Three means THE FUTURE IS NOW.

Posted by: but what do i know? | May 3, 2007 9:39 PM | Report abuse

The bloom is off J. O'Neal somewhat, but not so much that they'd even consider trading him for a nonlottey pick and some backups/role players. It'll take, at the very least, a sure lottery pick and a high-level starting caliber player. The Wiz don't have a lottery pick, and the only high-level starters they have are the big three, who most likely aren't going to be dealt.

Posted by: kalorama | May 3, 2007 11:32 PM | Report abuse

Out: Hayes, Haywood, Taylor, Mason, Ruffin
In: Pecherov, Veermenko, Navarro
Keep: Stevenson, Daniels, Songalia

Draft a high-flying swingman (a Gerald Wallace type)

Starters: Gil,Caron,Jamison,Blatche Pecherov. (or start Etan at C and Pecherov at PF)

I think the key is Navarro. From what I seen of him, he would be a great addition. I really hope they are serious about bringing him over and its not just BS.

I like Ruffin but I can only think of the Toronto game when I see him and I get ill.

Posted by: Tom | May 4, 2007 1:28 AM | Report abuse

The problem with a Jermaine O'Neal deal for us is not what we have to offer, but his salary which jumps to between 19-20m next year. He's one of the few guys in the league that is near Garnett numbers, he's owed 64.3m over the next 3 years.
Just no way possible to add those kind of numbers to all of the big three and assemble a roster and stay anywhere near the cap. So to even think about O'Neal Jamison's name would have to be the central player involved. You could get the dollars there with Jamison and Haywood, but I think they'd want more along the lines of Blatche or Pecherov and our pick.
The problem with O'Neal or Garnett in assembling a Championship roster is when one guy is making nearly a third of the luxury tax ceiling it becomes really difficult to fill the other 14 roster spots with the other 2/3 of 67m.
The added dilema is that Indiana will want some young cheap players or picks in return because they've got some young guys that are coming up on FA next year and the year after that they need to sign. So they're looking for cap releif next summer and guys to add to their young core.
The price to move all the way up to the top 5 in this draft will be very high. That debate raged here for a couple of days on the last discussion and I don't think we have enoungh to offer. The thing that has changed in the NBA is the Luxury Tax which for most teams has created a "hard cap" which their ownership is unwilling to exceed by much. This year a top 10 pick will yield a player who should be a star in this league and will be controlled under a rookie deal for 3 years and a restricted FA his 4th yr.
Even Oden and Durant will only get a fraction of what Garnett and O'Neal make, so top draft picks are going to go way up in value because the cost of the players they yeild is closely controlled for the three years.
Ivan, last summer I read that this was supposed to be the year that Navarro had an escape clause in that contract that would allow him a window to buyout and come to the NBA. Now I read that your saying his buyout could be 10m. Has anyone in Wizard's management ever seen his deal? If they have, can they read Spanish?
Boy, it seems like reports are all over the place in regard to his contract status. We drafted his rights in 2002, five years later and there's a 10m buyout. Did they guy sell his soul to the devil? I remember reading when we got him in the 2nd round that it was long term investment, this beginning to look like an IRA, we might not live to see the day,

Posted by: GM | May 4, 2007 3:12 AM | Report abuse

Rico -- I won't put words in the Gov's mouth, but the reason he wants Brewer is because Brewer was considered by many to be the best defensive player in college this past year.

Posted by: Joe | May 4, 2007 7:39 AM | Report abuse

Ivan, if Mayweather comes to fight, he is likely to lose. Now, if he's going to hit and run, then he's more likely to win. Remember Ivan, as fast as Mayweather is, he's moving up several weight classes and is fighting under DLH's conditions, such as using Reyes gloves. Mayweather has never been hit by a bigger guy like DLH before, so if DLH can crowd him, get some good shots in, he should win.

Nevermind all this, it is certain that there will be a rematch, maybe even a trilogy, which will continue to fatten their pockets.

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 4, 2007 8:39 AM | Report abuse

GM,

Good points about O'Neal. The problem, though, is that without a capable center, this team may be close to its peak. Meaning,a playoff team, maybe one that can reach the second round, but won't go much further. Something's gotta get done now, IMO, with the team close to something very good if they can fill the huge hole in the middle. I don't think it will take as much to get O'Neal as Kalorama- a lottery pick and a high-level starter for an aging center with injury issues? Uh-uh. I definitely think Blatche (or Pech, as you mention) and the pick may be enough. If not, sweeten it with a capable backup (maybe Haywood, since they'll be looking for help at 5) or a #2 pick also. I'm not sure what other centers may be available in trade. I've heard Camby might be obtainable; don't know if there's any truth to that, but he certainly would bring the defense we need.

Posted by: Keithinator | May 4, 2007 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Be happy about one thing, Wiz fans: We're not Mavs fans this morning! Wow, what an epic meltdown. Cuban and Avery Johnson are saying they don't need to blow up the team. After last season's finals and this flameout, I'd have to disagree.

Posted by: Keithinator | May 4, 2007 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Is it just me, or is the system here adding words to posts? It just put in "Wow" twice, when I only typed it once. It's happened a couple of times before to me. I just thought I made an error.

Posted by: Keithinator | May 4, 2007 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Keithinator, I was thinking the same thing this morning....what is worse - a severely depleted Wizards team getting swept in the playoffs as expected OR a Number 1 seed with 67 regular season wins getting toasted by a #8 seed team who barely made the playoffs? The city of Dallas must be weeping.

Posted by: Lisa | May 4, 2007 9:52 AM | Report abuse

So, what did Kevin Willis do for them?

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 4, 2007 9:53 AM | Report abuse

I guess TMac was right about him possibly not participating if it's going to be held in the big easy next season. Jason Whitlock was right too.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=2859699

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 4, 2007 10:00 AM | Report abuse

I just want to ask all you knowledgable fans about the other center we drafted a few years ago - Peter John Ramos (is that his name?). I seem to remember he was something like a 7-2 guy with a big body. Did anything ever happen with him? Did he ever play in the summer or D league? Is he still around? I am grasping at straws here but we are pretty close to a good team.

Posted by: Agrawog | May 4, 2007 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Dude had to be cut loose because Les BouleS couldn't hide him beyond the 3 years that they had rights to him. I saw him play for his national team and he seems like an active guy. He's 7-3.

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 4, 2007 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Last time I saw "Party John" play, he didn't look like he was really cut out for the NBA. Yeah he's big and strong and tall, but his ability to do anything with it was pretty disappointing. Even more so than Kwame Brown. I don't know if my judgment is fair here, but to me PJ Ramos didn't seem to have a lot of basketball knowledge, or the ability to gain it.

Posted by: Josh | May 4, 2007 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Keithinator, Any deal for O'Neal has to start with Jamison. If you try and hold onto Jamison and O'Neal their combined salary would be close to 36m add 11m for Gil and there's only about 20m left for the rest of the roster.
To add up to O'Neal's 19-20m salary without including one of the big three we'd have to get the Pacers to take Brendan and Etan(no one in their right mind would take them both) and Daniels in the same deal and we'd still be 4-5m short of matching salaries. And they'd still want Blatche on a sign and trade, our choice and Pecherov. The only way I would conceive a deal like that would work would be to involve a 3rd or 4th team and there would have to be something(draft picks) to entice them to get involved.
If the Wiz could pull off a blockbuster to get O'Neal to go with the big three they'd have to be a top contender even with a D-League bench which we'd have to have because we'd be over the luxury cap. I'll never say it could never be pulled off, but I think it would be a real stretch. And we'd have a short window to win because we'd have to give up so many young assests.
After Dallas collapsing against Golden State I would assume that the market for 7/0 Euro guys might be a little depressed. Finding a way to add Gasol's 13m to the big to the big three would be difficult but more possible.
If Garnett is truely not on the market there will be other bidders for O'Neal. We may be able to fly under the radar for Gasol.
As it stands now we have a young core besides Jamison, the addition of Pecherov, our 1st rounder and Navarro(hope Ivan is wrong about that10m buyout)will give us three more young assests to add to our core. Overall that may be the smarter long range route than pursuing a blockbuster deal.

Posted by: GM | May 4, 2007 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Got to hand it to the Warriors. I think the springboard to their recent success was that "loss" to Les BouleS where Tony Brothers gave Gilby a phantom foul with no time left on the clock. From there, they got better and look where they are now!

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 4, 2007 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Hello everyone! I have enjoyed the discussion all year but her is my opinion of the wizards.

Coach Jordan style of play isn't going to win the NBA championship any time soon. This league has gone to the old show time lakers style of ball that was played in the 80's. Look at the warriors for example.

His game management and lack of player development skills are definatlly lacking.He gets set way to early (like pre season) on his bench rotation which hurts in player development as evident in this year.

He is more worried about those $1,000 Armani suites and gucci shoes. Than he is about building player/coach relationships and developing tanlent. he does't reconize talant or utilize it!

The Wizards are simply a mess! The only players that will be that team are the ones under contract. All the players that are either free agents or restricted free agents will not be back.Who wants to play for a coach that doesn't cares about his players. The days of Tom Landry "god bless his soul" are over.

Her is my view on buliding a winner!

First, get gilbert of the point. you need to get a true point to run the show.it req uires more than just scoring.he can run it only when games are on the line like last minute of games!

Secondly, sure up the post! via free agency. Haywood, Thomas,Ruffin and Booth equals very little. I would look at obtaing either Gasol,Diop, or Ellison.

Thirdly, I would move Jamison to the bench as sixth man only. If he wasn't happy with it I would trade him!

And Finally I would give Blatche the whole $5mill cap money thats available. If not it will be the biggest mistake this franchise would have ever made in terms on not retaining a young prospect. Trust me.

To sum it just Let Eddie go as a coach and hire someone who can get a grip on that locker room and has the respect of his players. With all the BS that went on all year if Eddie was coaching college this team would have been put on NCAA probation for lack of institutional control.

Posted by: TheGodFather | May 4, 2007 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Godfather, I can't imagine where you got your info from but other the Brendan Haywood (and Gil on occasion) the players love Eddie - I've heard them say so....Caron, Antawn, Antonio, and some of the others.

Posted by: Lisa | May 4, 2007 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Hey, GodFather, if you can get an Armani for a G, better grab it if it's the real deal... they're going for about 2Gs and up nowadays :)

Posted by: iceberg | May 4, 2007 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Godfather,

Lisa is correct about the players, with the exception of Haywood, liking Eddie. I agree with you about his game management- he's weak there. But don't forget that the Wiz also dealt with major injuries during the year and playoffs - Songaila missing half the season, then Antawn going down, followed by Caron and Gil.

As for moving Gil to shooting guard, I see two major problems with that:
1) He's more effective with the ball in his hands. He'd be a different player at SG, and I don't see him as a "catch-and-shoot" type player.
2) His size and lack of defense will be even more pronounced at SG. On most teams they're better scorers than the PG, and also much bigger size-wise. If Gil has trouble guarding PGs now, what will he do against SGs?

I don't think a major reworking is needed here, just a plugging of that hole in the middle.

BTW, Eddie doesn't wear expensive suits and shoes - don't know where you got that one. He dresses like an average NBA coach I'd say. He's certainly no Pat Riley.

GM, it might indeed be best to sit tight and see what the draft, Pech, and a year more experienced Blatche get us. Maybe we just need time.

Posted by: Keithinator | May 4, 2007 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Lisa,

When talking to the press all players have to says whats politically corret! Even Scott Peterson said " He didn't kill his wife". If you were at work and someone ask you about your your boss there is a high probability you will say something positive to avoid any potential or future conflict. Remeber this is whasington, D.C. we are talking about only second to NYC in press coverage.

I guarentee you Ernie will do what is necessary to re-establish a championship caliber team this year.Don't be shocke by some of the off season moves that he will make in order to bring a champioship to D.C!

Posted by: TheGodFather | May 4, 2007 12:57 PM | Report abuse

I say send Eddie Jordan to San Francisco as an understudy to Nellie. Obviously his players love him - he loves "SMALL BALL" obviously. no comment as to what Wiz should or shouldn't do. Whatever it is its usually bargain basement besides Arenas and he's more managment oriented than team.

Come to think of it: Godfather brings up a point..there IS something wrong when your PG(GA)doesn't communicte with you as a coach instead tells the press "Management speaks to Gilbert" "Gilbert is Gilbert - he does what he does. He does what he wants" and that PG is blastin you to the public about defense???????????? He flies to NY, Conn to ESPN & talks about his videos and commercials, interviews everywhere but can't come to verizon EXCEPT mgmt tells him???? And isn't this the same dude managment told Jordan to "hide" from the process server cuz of the baby's momma that he denied he "knocked her up" mgmt hid this dude - sat him out of games?

UH HOUSTON!! We got a problem!!

Grunfeld O'Malley & Abe deal w/ Arenas thats their investment. anybody else is expendible.

Eddie picked that DLeague summer league bench..thats his best..sad as it is.
I don't think Grunfeld trust him with any other choices. And decrepet as he is..Abe Polin is as meddelsome as Dan Snyder gives the orders.

I don't agree w/ Godfather about Jordan's attire..not impressed..needs get some dental work done..take care of the basic stuff first..maybe thats whats wrong with his team. No understanding of the basics.
get tired lookin at that nasty mouth for a young millionaire dude??? What kind of leader is that? Jamison is better at that than all em. Class act guy - under appreciated.

Posted by: KLM | May 4, 2007 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Godfather, the players made the comments about Eddie unprovoked. They were not ask how they liked playing for him, his style, etc. Their comments came out during regular converations. I'm not just talking off the top of my head here. For example, during the last game, Caron was sitting with Buck and Phil and chatting during the game. Eddie came by and said something to Caron - Buck said "he can't stop coaching you even when you are not playing" Caron replied "That's my man...I LOVE Coach Jordan." Can't get any clearer than that.

Posted by: Lisa | May 4, 2007 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Lisa,

Gotta disagree with you. Of course the big 3 love Eddie J. He talks Princeton Offense but the offense is really built around running and gunning and the big 3 having a green light! And also he never takes them out for defensive lapses. Of course they love him!

What fascinates me more is that the other players play hard. I don't know if it's because they like the coach or because they want more minutes by proving their talent. If they decide to stay when they could leave then we will know for sure what their motivation was.

Posted by: BmoreRev | May 4, 2007 11:30 PM | Report abuse

BMoreRev, then why do you disagree with me - since you just said that "Eddie gives the Big Three free reign and of course they love him." Your disagreement does not make sense to me. I never said why they love him, just that they do - for whatever reason.

Posted by: Lisa | May 5, 2007 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Lisa,

I probably was not clear enough about what I was saying. What I meant is that the big 3 love him for sure but it's because they are given so much freedom. However I am not convinced that the other 12 on the roster love him. They may play hard for a lot of other reasons. It may not be as simple as it looks. That's all. Bottom line is that for all the things I see problematic about the coach I definitely think he is to be commended for getting the most out of the guys who play. (The obvious exception is of course B Haywood.)

Posted by: BmoreRev | May 5, 2007 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Get rid of Haywood.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 1:01 AM | Report abuse

Players don't have to love their coach for the team to be successful. They do have to buy into what his system and play hard and smart. And the reason why the Big 3 get a freer hand is because they're significantly better and more effective than the other 12 guys. Better players get more leeway. That's always been a basic reality of sports. Unless they're new to the sport, I'm sure the other guys (aside form Haywood, apparently) understand that.

Posted by: kalorama | May 7, 2007 1:22 PM | Report abuse

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