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Ready to Reign?

It's been a long time since I checked in with something, because there isn't much going on. This is that really dead period before training camp, when the roster is essentially set and you are just hoping nobody does anything stupid and forces you to check the police blotter (again).

I had a hoops itch that needed to get scratched. So, I went down to the Verizon Center this afternoon because I heard that most of the players were already there every day, playing intense five-on-five games since Labor Day.
Just about everybody except Darius Songaila, who was playing for Lithuania in the European Championships, and Etan Thomas, who has been doing a ton of community work, has made it down.

When I stepped into the gym, I was a bit disappointed that Nick Young, Dominic McGuire and Pesh weren't around because they had to be in New York for the rookie symposium. But most of the rest of the gang was there, including starters Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, DeShawn Stevenson and, um, Brendan Haywood (Okay, I know Brendan wasn't the starter at the beginning or end of the season, but he has started the most games the past three seasons and I have a hunch that he will again compete for the job with Etan in training camp).

The rest of the teams included Andray Blatche, Donell Taylor, Mike Hall, Roger Mason, blog fav James Lang, former Maryland big man and NBA journeyman Tony Massenburg and bunch of other dudes I don't know. (BTW, Lang won't be invited to the Wizards training camp this season in case you were wondering).

The first five played together and the first thing I noticed was that Caron and DeShawn look like they are in great shape. Caron told me that he lost seven pounds and is down to 7 percent body fat (He added that was at 15 percent body fat when he played at UConn). DeShawn said he lost about 15 pounds this summer and he hopes it will help him be a bit more explosive this season.

Gilbert didn't appear to be slowed down much by his left knee, which was covered with a black brace. He didn't really try to burst toward the basket too much, settling for jumpers instead. He certainly hasn't lost his ability to talk trash, though. He hit a game-winning jumper, then stared down the guy who was guarding him (one of those dudes I don't know) and asked him, "Where's my newspaper?" Somebody handed Arenas a magazine with his picture on the cover. "You know what this should say?" Arenas told the guy, pointing to his name on magazine. "Lights You Up."

I heard that Andray has been working on his post game this summer, but with the exception of missing a jump hook over Haywood, he didn't attempt to do much inside the paint.

Before I pulled into the parking lot at VC, I noticed a huge billboard with Arenas and the Wizards' new slogan for the upcoming season, "Let the Reign Begin." Actually, the slogan is "Ready to Rule," but I heard that Gilbert really likes "the whole make it reign" idea, as an informed person told me. So, Gilbert gets his own take on the new slogan on his billboard.

Although many of media types I spoke with in Las Vegas tend to think that the Wizards will have a tough time simply making the playoffs in the improving Eastern Conference, folks within the organization believe that after three years in the playoffs, they are ready to assume a spot among the elite teams in the conference. Thus, the new slogan.

The Wizards have a few things working in their favor. Ernie Grunfeld loves to remind people that the team was the top team in the Eastern Conference before Antawn had his knee injury in late January. They have three all-stars who can guarantee at least 65 points per game. And, they don't enter camp with any major injuries, although Arenas's recovery from offseason surgery will be the most critical aspect of the season. He has to be that big time star he was in December again for them to have any chance and there is no doubt that he is pushing himself to be ready. His shoe game will certainly be ready.

Songaila will be healthy. Stevenson was still recovering from knee surgery last season and should be healthier. And, injuries really helped players like Andray and Donell get some valuable minutes.

The Wizards didn't make any buzz worthy offseason moves, aside from adding three rookies, but it will be interesting to see where they finish this season. I don't think they did enough to say they are "Ready to Reign" but you never know. It's really hard for me to figure out where I think they'll be because so many of the top teams in the East did nothing significant, while teams like Boston, New York, Orlando and Charlotte made great moves on paper.

But paper can be shredded, only the games count. Feel free to chime in.

Hopes this holds you Wizards junkies for a while. Peace.

By Michael Lee  |  September 18, 2007; 5:09 PM ET
 
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Comments

First!!! :-)

Go Wizards!

Posted by: Gaithersburg Girl | September 18, 2007 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Wizards played the best against good teams last season. Having the bad teams step it up is only going to help them.

Posted by: Fat Bob | September 18, 2007 5:50 PM | Report abuse

They ought to let fans in to see some of these games. I'd pay a few bucks to get in. I'd pay a couple more if BH and Poet were on the opposing teams. I'm sure GA, AJ and CB would appreciate a little extra money ;))

Was Poet not there b/c of community work or out of a concern that he and BH might go off on each other?

Posted by: Mitch | September 18, 2007 6:04 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if BTH has improved on any skills, like catching passes, cleaning up around the offensive boards, finishing at the basket, or his left hook.

Alas I think he has peaked. Though its more of a hill than a mountain.

Posted by: WaPoLiveFan16 | September 18, 2007 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the update and keep them coming. I would really appreciate a couple after NY, Pesh, and DMac get back from the rookie symposium.

Posted by: Kevin | September 18, 2007 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for this morsel of Wiz news, we die-hards were starving for something, anything. At least in a few weeks pre-season will start.

Posted by: Wizzy | September 18, 2007 7:25 PM | Report abuse

I know one thing...the Wizards better not play around and come stumbling out the gate. The better do just like they did last year and come out the blocks sprinting full speed taking no opponent and no game for granted because as teams like Orlando with new addition Rashard Lewis and Boston with new additions KG and Ray Allen start to click and get into their groove after the All-Star break its going to be a fight to the finish unless the Wizards have established themselves early in the season atop the conference.

Posted by: Pessimist | September 18, 2007 7:26 PM | Report abuse

This is the same as last year when at the beginning of the season people overlook us and do not think we are capable of winning. I am tired of what the media says, ( not you guys Michael and Ivan), and can not wait for some basketball so everyone who isn't a Wizards fan can jump on the bandwagon again when we start winning. I like flying under the radar.

Kind of reminds me how the redskins are still getting overlooked.

Posted by: LooseCannon | September 18, 2007 8:24 PM | Report abuse

Caron gives us every hope that this will be a great season. He's a great role model for the younger dudes on the squad.

It's disappointing to read that AB didn't do much in the post during this workout. So much for the much ballyhooed Pete Newell big man camp. AB a center? Not.

Posted by: DC Man88 | September 18, 2007 8:36 PM | Report abuse

What are Donells chances of making the team and sticking the entire year ?

How many spots are open now and how many guys competing for them ?

Will Donells salary as a 3rd year player work against him if the salary cap is an issue ?
That is, might they keep a first year rookie for the savings instead ?

Posted by: UABFAN | September 18, 2007 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Glad you are back with a morsel. The cannabalism had begun...

Posted by: Anonymous | September 18, 2007 10:27 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if BTH has improved on any skills, like catching passes, cleaning up around the offensive boards, finishing at the basket, or his left hook.

Alas I think he has peaked. Though its more of a hill than a mountain.

Posted by: WaPoLiveFan16 | September 18, 2007 06:10 PM

Dream on. Todette will never improve. He should be traded or put on the inactive list as trade bait.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 18, 2007 11:05 PM | Report abuse

Prediction: Wizards win 47 games, 3rd place in the East behind Raptors and Cavs, Celtics Pistons Nets and Heat too old, and the rising Magic and Knicks fail to eclipse the Wiz.

Posted by: Emmet | September 19, 2007 12:08 AM | Report abuse

contrary to popular belief, the east has one of its weakest yrs in memory. bobcats make playoffs. wiz advance to east finals, lose to cavs in 6. cavs swept in finals again. nba commissioner david stern demotes the entire eastern conference to the d-league

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2007 12:15 AM | Report abuse

Mike Hall rocked in Vegas so this team is super loaded. Time for some 120, 130 point games from the wiz this year.

Posted by: bluesteel | September 19, 2007 12:38 AM | Report abuse

1 cleveland
2 toronto
3 washington
4 chicago
5 detroit
6 orlando
7 new jersey
8 new york

Posted by: emmet | September 19, 2007 2:48 AM | Report abuse

...community service? Ivan, you are too kind. Etan get your head in the game, would you please.

Posted by: oddjob | September 19, 2007 7:13 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Oddjob. Michael - Is the reference to community service a polite way of saying that the Poet has been AWOL from workouts? I remember a number of stories during previous off-seasons about how hard he was working to bulk up and to improve his game. No such buzz this summer. Is it because of his feud with BTH or is he just sitting on his fat contract? The 5-spot really is going to be the big question mark for the upcoming season...

Posted by: PK1 | September 19, 2007 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Mike - Thanks for the update for a Wizard junkie like myself. I am just as much a Skins junkie, so with their regular season started I was at least getting a football "fill".

Question for you Mike. Although the roster for training camp seems to be already set, is there any interest in Pops from GW to get an invite? I said before he reminds me of a poor man's Gerald Wallace, and I think he would be a great energy guy with some good hops coming off of the bench for selected minutes.

I also agree with your statement about DS losing some weight and looking more explosive. I saw him, Gilbert, Taylor, Caron and AB play a game down at Barry Farms about two to three weeks ago. Stevenson showed me a different part of his game I did not know he had. He had a lot of "shake and above the rim dunks" that were very impressive. I was one of the ones pretty hard on him about his contract, but I am starting to see we might have gotten a nice little "steal" after all.

Lastly, will you or Ivan ever do a "behind the scenes" story on the EJ, Haywood/Thomas, and EG "no love and hate triangle"? It would really be nice to know what is the real truth to why Eddie dislikes Haywood so much. Thanks again for the great update.

Posted by: Bullets Fever #1 | September 19, 2007 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the update! I have been starving for some Wiz news and it is good to hear that everyone is healthy and ready to roll. Just placed a futures bet that the Wiz win the Eastern conference. I know, it's definitely no lock, but I don't believe any team is significantly better than a healthy Wiz squad.

Posted by: fwade4 | September 19, 2007 9:25 AM | Report abuse

I agree. The Poet should be there. As far as Haywood goes, if he just plays ball and quits pouting he will help the team. If not 86 the guy. I need my Bball fix. I'mglad the season is gettin' close. Go Wizards!

Posted by: old phone man | September 19, 2007 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Re: Pops

He is playing ball in Italy, under contract.

Posted by: Wizzy | September 19, 2007 10:26 AM | Report abuse

media people that do predictions in the beginning of the season has ALWAYS shown zero respect for our wizards. I don't know why. I don't know how many times I've opened a preseason magazine and been pissed because these "experts" keep saying the wizards will either barely qualify or not qualify at all to the playoffs year after year.

Why do we get no love for our Wizards from the media? Did Mr. Pollins ever do something to them to piss the entire industry off or something?

Posted by: Nara | September 19, 2007 10:36 AM | Report abuse

I can only chat about below average poets and 7'1" WNBA players for so long; my biggest concern comes from the following line in Michael's post, "He [Gilbert] didn't really try to burst toward the basket too much, settling for jumpers instead." Is he not taking it to the hole because he can't or because he didn't want to? Without the threat of exploding to the rim, Gil becomes much more guardable (if that's even a word) and loses a lot of his effectiveness. Someone please tell me that he was flying to the basket at Barry Farms and the VC game was not an indicator of dimished ability.

Posted by: In the A | September 19, 2007 10:41 AM | Report abuse

The Wizards are "Ready to Reign" because of the following:

1. Great team chemistry
2. Bona fide scorers
3. A "go to guy" in the clutch (GA)
4. Coach R.Ayers improving team defense
5. A weak Eastern conference
6. Player improvement(AB,DS,Pesh)(all 3 can play the 5 position if needed)

Wizards Eastern conference finals

Posted by: KSJ | September 19, 2007 11:05 AM | Report abuse

"Someone please tell me that he was flying to the basket at Barry Farms and the VC game was not an indicator of dimished ability.

Posted by: In the A | September 19, 2007 10:41 AM "

Ivan reported that Gilby did the same things at Barry Farms that he did at this practice. Shoot J's and didn't make any aggressive moves to the basket.

I don't blame him b/c he could blow his knee out and all for what, a Barry Farms And 1 pickup game or bragging rights against your teammates during the offseason?

Gilby just better bring it when the season opens, and I don't mean his mouth and his whining.

Posted by: DC Man88 | September 19, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

PLEASE IGNORE DC MAN88. DO NOT RESPOND TO HIM OR ACKNOWLEDGE HIM. HE IS RUDE, VULGAR, AND HIS POSTS ARE NOT APPROPRIATE TO THIS BLOG.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Etan was at Robert Parrish's big man camp a month ago and the Chief had nice things to say about his work ethic. It's too soon to say that "community service" is a cover for him crapping out on the Wiz.

Pretty good analysis of the Wiz on Hoopsworld this morning: http://www.hoopsworld.com/article_23324.shtml, urging better team defense, a big man in the post, and more time in half-court sets than in transition.

The first two are pretty obvious, but I'm not sure I agree with that last point given that the Wiz are among the best fast-break teams in the league. As for acquiring a post presence I'm still hopeful Ernie will pull the trigger come December if he's not happy with what he sees out of the Wiz's two-headed hair-pulling dysfunctional center and the rail-thin youngsters, and on what he hears from Gilbert and AJ as their contracts expire.

Posted by: Prazak | September 19, 2007 11:57 AM | Report abuse

In that game at Barry Farms a couple of weeks ago, Gilbert took it to the hole numerous times and also did some nice dunks I did not know he had in his game.

There was a dude in the stands near the opposing basket talking a whole bunch of smack to Gilbert. Gil had some dude (he went to Georgetown a couple of years ago) checking him who was also talking much smack to Gil.

To make a long story short, everybody cleared out and Gil went on to put on wicked crossover and shake move that left us all saying "ohhhh". Afterwards he finished with a monster slam. He then turned to the dude in the stands who had been talking much smack to him and said "what up"...???? Everybody there went "crazy" after that.

Gil was not just taking jumpers in this game. He was attacking the rack with authority. If anything, it was Caron who looked like he was going half speed (I can't blame him, this is playground ball). However, Gilbert and Stevenson were the two who were playing like they were "trying to make a NBA team".

Call it stupid all you want, but you have to respect two guys with multi-million dollar contracts playing that hard on concrete outside.

I am saying all that to say don't play into that Gil was just shooting jumpers in his intra-squad game with his teammates only, oh no what is wrong with his knee? His knee is just fine, he is saving it for the preseason and the regular season.

Posted by: Bullets Fever #1 | September 19, 2007 12:09 PM | Report abuse

What's the word on Dominic Mcguire, Mike? Give us an update. Will he provide some much needed interior defense?

Also, last I checked there is only one ball and one low post in NY, Orlando can't play rashard lewis and hedo at the same time, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett can't play point guard, and charlotte already has a gunner 2.5.

I'm ready to reign.

Posted by: FW Samolis | September 19, 2007 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Since Gilbert likes to "make it reign," how about a new slogan for the T-wolves: "Make it McHale."

Posted by: jgm | September 19, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Why are people wasting time talking and bragging about the Barry Farms games and practices? Who cares?

When did these games become a measuring stick on how these players will perform when the season starts?

Ohhh, ahhh, ooooh.....

Posted by: Rayful Edmond III | September 19, 2007 12:23 PM | Report abuse

How bout that kid Brian Chase he has dominated minor leagues, and if it wasn't for politics some say he should have won the 3rd point guard spot over Dee Brown last year. I think this gut is ready.

Posted by: DA KIDD | September 19, 2007 12:24 PM | Report abuse

"Call it stupid all you want, but you have to respect two guys with multi-million dollar contracts playing that hard on concrete outside."

Last I checked, these guys have guaranteed contracts, so they get paid regardless.

Posted by: Prazak | September 19, 2007 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Those guys are doing something great for the community, They give the all in the verizob center and they put on a show for the community in the Barry Farms tournament. These group of guys have made it to the playoffs the last three years, and if it wasn't for injuries who knows where the wizards could have gone.

Posted by: BF CRAZY | September 19, 2007 12:32 PM | Report abuse

I'm certainly ready for some Wizards and appreciate the updates. The ET/BH standoff makes for some drama and I find it very interesting that neither was traded in the offseason. Perhaps the strong rivalry between them has made both better? If not for the improvements brougt about by the rivalry, they should both be gone in lieu of someone truly motivated.

Posted by: JoMo | September 19, 2007 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Yea i agree with you with that kidd brian chase, he's one tough guy, and guess what he can shoot the lights out of the ball, i even witnessed him give Ben Gordon 28 in college. The only reason this guy isn't in the league is because of his height, if the guy can play he can play. I thik the wizards would have alot more fans if they have an DC Native on the team anyway. But let's just stay tuned and see what happens,

Posted by: I KNO B-BALL | September 19, 2007 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Last I checked, these guys have guaranteed contracts, so they get paid regardless.

Posted by: Prazak | September 19, 2007 12:27 PM

Prazak - This is true. I was just trying to make the point that they were playing really hard for it just being a "playground game".

To me that shows passion for the game and their craft. They did not even have to play at all because yes they do have guaranteed contracts and they get paid regardless.

A lot of players get their "fat contracts" knowing they are already getting paid and they then begin to "lay back" and not work on their game anymore. However Gilbert and Stevenson are not just "laying back", they are still playing hard at even meaningless playground games when in fact they are already paid with guranteed contracts.

Posted by: Bullets Fever #1 | September 19, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Why are people wasting time talking and bragging about the Barry Farms games and practices? Who cares?

When did these games become a measuring stick on how these players will perform when the season starts?

Ohhh, ahhh, ooooh.....

Posted by: Rayful Edmond III | September 19, 2007 12:23 PM

Yo my man, you sure you want to use that as a post name? Anyway, I only mentioned this game I saw because a early poster was questioning Mike Lee about why Gil was just shooting jumpers in their games at Verizon Center instead of going to the hole more.

All I was trying to do was let the poster know from what I saw at the Barry Farms game, Gil had plenty of explosion from the knee and was attacking the rim many times with vigor and authority.

In no kind of a way am I using playground games as a measuring stick for their play in the regular season, I have played ball way to long to even think that kind of a way. As Mike Lee said, this is a "dead time" of the year for basketball, so all I was trying to do was add a little something different to the blog, my man.

Posted by: Bullets Fever #1 | September 19, 2007 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Mike,

Are you saying that our five starters played against guys you don't know and Gil had to hit the winning shot? We are definitely ready to reign then.

Posted by: ib | September 19, 2007 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone know whether they play or practice any defense in these pickup games, or is it a poor man's And 1 game? I venture to guess the latter.

Posted by: Neck of Eackles | September 19, 2007 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Rumor has it that AB will start this season with Jamison coming off the bench to add much needed fire power off the bench. Ivan is this true?

Posted by: The Godfather | September 19, 2007 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Bullets Fever! I've been a Bullets/Wiz fan for too long and I've been emotionally scarred by years and years of misfortune. So, even the hint of a change in Gil's game made me nervous. If he's dunking on concrete or at the VC, I'm smiling and ordering the NBA League Pass so I don't have to watch the Hawks and their 18 PFs all season here in Atlanta

Posted by: In the A | September 19, 2007 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Hi Bullets Fever - I agree with you, I admire seeing pro ballers show passion about the game. Someone else posted that comment about guaranteed contracts. I guess I have a secret admirer, or maybe someone doesn't like what I have to say and wants to start posting rubbish in my name.

Posted by: Prazak | September 19, 2007 1:37 PM | Report abuse

I think the Wiz are definitely "Ready to Reign." I echo KSJ's reasons why.

I have been saying for the last month or so that I do not expect the Wiz to be any worse than 3rd in the East. In fact, I think they will win the east and enter the playoffs as the #1 seed. Once you get to the playoffs, it is all an open book.

Grunfeld is spot on when he talks about this team and where they were last year, before (and despite) all the injuries. A healthy Gil, AJ, CB3, DeShawn and Darius will make us even deeper from the beginning of the season. We might not have made any FA splashes this summer, but our entire roster has yet to play together healthy. In basketball, that and cohesion cannot be overestimated.

Posted by: Wizkid034 | September 19, 2007 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for brightening the day with this posting. Let the "experts" say what they will, their negative comments will only motivate Gilbert some more.

One question... you said that the roster appears set, but what do you make of the apparent availability of Andrei Kirilenko? If I were Ernie G, he might be the only player I would consider trading Antawn for. Kirilenko was a beast in the European championships that just ended.

Posted by: khrabb | September 19, 2007 2:07 PM | Report abuse

I heard that kilelenko demanded a trade. do you think the wiz will try to get him? he might be a major improvement defensively for us.

Posted by: nv | September 19, 2007 2:49 PM | Report abuse

i like to hear about a trimmed down caron. does anyone think that he can play the 2 spot?

if he can then that really opens things up for blatche, songalia, and pecherov to get some time. i think blatche is a prototypical future 3-man of the nba. in the lamar odom style. but everyone seems to want to see him get time as a 4 or a 5. who really cares about his post moves? putting him on the block would neutralize all of his natural advantages in my mind (ball handling, passing, and scoring off the dribble for someone so long).

Posted by: rlevinenyc | September 19, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Staying in front of most 2's is going to be difficult for Caron, so I think 3 is where he tays. No matter what we will see a lot of Songaila this year, the question is will EJ play Blatche and Pecherov enough?

Posted by: George Templeton | September 19, 2007 3:06 PM | Report abuse

thanks bulletsfeverman I too have wondered about gils knee/burst, every report of his barry farms games hints that he was a lckle timid to test it, I just hoped it was only him keeping it fresh for the season avoiding any setbacks, but we all know knee surgeries can result in a player losing explosiveness, which is what gils game is all about, so its good to hear from a witness that gil still has it, and I also agree that raefus (as I used to call the real mr edmonds)needs to change his name and watch his back (literally) lol I just hope eddie has an epiphany and uses his roster properly this year, its time for the gizzards to become the wizards, go gizz

Posted by: dcdds | September 19, 2007 3:28 PM | Report abuse

How about a Jamison for Kirilenko trade? Kirilenko can play the 4, defend and block shots, and generally make us much more of a defensive ballclub.

Regardless, I think we have a real shot at making some real noise in the East - I really think the rooks will be major contributors.

Go WIZ!!

Posted by: Ricky Tan | September 19, 2007 3:39 PM | Report abuse

I hear you Ricky - I think Mcguire especially will be a real steal...

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2007 3:39 PM | Report abuse

mcguire will b e good, petch will be ok, nick young is the true question mark for me, he can dissapear for long stretches and his ball handling leaves a little to be desired, so I hope he improves quickly, because he does have a lot of upside/potential

Posted by: dcdds | September 19, 2007 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Caron losing so much weight might work against him, since he likes to get down and dirty. Reports have caron at only 6'5". He might get pushed around easier, and he can't leap over taller guys.

Posted by: Rayful Edmond III | September 19, 2007 4:01 PM | Report abuse

carons a man he will be allright

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2007 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Glad to hear that Caron and the guys are taking the initiative to get better (i.e. in the weight room, practicing) to help us. I just really wished BH was traded, so we can bring one of our European big man over. Its obvious by looking at his performance that he isn't playing to get better but to make a living. He's a bum. Andray Blatch needs to step it up. I'm sick and tired of seeing him at the club. Bama isn't even 21 yet!

Posted by: #1 Wiz Fan | September 19, 2007 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Kirilenko can't carry AJ's jockstrap.

Posted by: Mitch | September 19, 2007 4:27 PM | Report abuse

I'm just glad to hear that AB is playing some ball, instead of trying to be a player.

Posted by: John Brisker | September 19, 2007 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Gilbert's knee injury didn't involve his ligaments, really should be no fear of blowing out a knee. Great to here that he's testing it and displaying explosion.
Caron is building his body and his game every offseason, look for him to add the dimension of the three pointer to his game this year. When Jamison went down Butler was well aware that his limited shooting range allowed teams to pack the lane to help on Arenas's drives and his mid range game. Here he's been shooting alot to expand his range.
I would look for Caron to get some minutes at the 2 now and then. There's some big rugged 2's in the east, and with Hayes gone, I'd expect "The Butler" to serve up some tough physical play against certain guys. He also gives Jordan the option of taking a guy like Gordon down low and working him over.
This year's roster has many more options for Jordan to work with, he can go big, or go really long and quick, or even has the right players to play the beloved small ball. There's also enough depth and experience that Eddie can give the youngsters some time to battle their way into the rotation.
Best of all these guys appear hungry, almost the whole team has been working hard at Verizon and getting some run time at Barry Farms together. Deshawn has been getting to bed early, even when he's home in Orlando, and has gotten himself in great shape this offseason.
I'd agree if Chase could battle his way onto this roster he could provide a dimension that this team lacks. As a small defensive specialist he could give us someone to match up against those little guys that give Daniels and Arenas fits.
I like the fact that our guys are flying under the Radar this summer, seems to me they've got a chip on their shoulder about the end of last year. Not hard to see them winning an additional 8 to 10 games next year. This could be a really fun year to be a Wizards fan.

Posted by: GM | September 19, 2007 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Someone asked earlier why the wiz don't get any love from media outlets.

It's not a media conspiracy. The answer is really quite simple.

Media experts on basketball are considered "experts" specifically because they are able to grasp the general formulas of what works and what doesn't work in the game of basketball. That being said, a survey of the past 50 hears of professional basketball will show a few things:

1) Winning teams play good defense because with a defensive mindset you can control more of the game in the playoffs - you aren't relying on being "hot" offensively.

2) Winning teams almost always have a big man who draws a double team in the paint with his post-up game. This allows for more high-percentage shots and frees up perimiter players as well. The obvious exception to this is MJ's Bulls. While that is a HUGE exception (they won 6 championships), it still considered an exception because a) MJ was one of the best of all time and b) pippen brought it defensively every night.

3) Winning teams *usually* have assist-minded point gaurds. We have to see consistent playoff success by teams with shoot-first point gaurds. Iverson was hot that one year and still lost in the finals.

Now, taking these three basic observations about what HAS BEEN up until now, traditional wisdom regarding playoff success in basketball, and applying it to the case of the Washington Wizards, media experts automatically conclude that the wiz are - at the very least - betting against the odds by structuring the team the way they have. That is fine, but media experts are going to judge them according to those odds.

Personally, I think it's great that the wizards are trying out a different model. The game is changing and whoever comes up with a new model *might* be able to break away from the pack and change the game. If most teams are planning around traditional models, then they will have a hard time adjusting to a non-traditional model that works.

So far, it hasn't worked in the playoffs for the wiz. Let's hope this year, barring injuries, the wiz can change that.

Posted by: DC Bball | September 19, 2007 5:18 PM | Report abuse

The buzz is that the Jazz is talking with the Suns to swap Marion for Kirilenko. The Suns would be brighter for that one. Kirilenko has tremendous upside and I think he would be a perfect fit for the Wiz, if we were willing to make a deal. We'd probably have to give up more than AJ (and I'm not pushing that deal).

Thanks, Mike, for giving us a little glimmer of the future. We obviously can hardly wait.

Posted by: zinger1 | September 19, 2007 5:26 PM | Report abuse

todds game is unfortunately reached its peak, idunno why it just seems he is stuck in mediocre mode, so for now we have to deal with watching him underperform for another season, too bad he has potential just not enough desire/heart to make the leap from ok to great/good/decent/ect.as for european big guys we can bring over-whatever- todd can probably contribute more this year than any international project player so it is what it is, todd may be motivated by seing petch outplay him but I doubt petch can do that or that todd will care(sad), hopefully he wants to leave so bad hell get his game going so someone might actually see value in a trade for him if not we will all be mikserable watching todd wade thru the seaon laughing on the bench with any rookie who will give him an ear

Posted by: dcdds | September 19, 2007 5:35 PM | Report abuse

i just hope gils ok.
he's kinda cocky tho

Posted by: thelosgowiz! | September 19, 2007 5:36 PM | Report abuse

I, too, like the fact that most of our Wiz seem to be working hard this off season. I expect all our front line players, except maybe at the 5, will be better in some part(s) their game from last year.

I think the real question is what will our new young players be able to contribute. I can't tell about Pech yet. I could not get enough of a handle on him in summer league play as to whether he will offer the Wizards some improvement off the bench.

I can see already that McGuire will probably contribute a good deal, and that Young is still a question mark. If Young can give some good minutes spelling DS off the bench at the 2 and hit the jumper more consistently than Hayes did last year (which I know is not saying a lot), then he can be something of a plus.

Posted by: Tim | September 19, 2007 5:38 PM | Report abuse

emmet, u made u predictions for the upcoming season i guess, but where is boston? do u really think they will not make the playoffs? WRONG! and do not sleep on the hawks this year people! and do u really think toronto will win the second see this year? WRONG! here is mine. and sure shaq is old, but if lebron can make it with no talent, so can wade.

1.Chicago
2.washington
3.boston
4.cleveland
5.detroit
6.miami
7.orlando
8.new york / new jersey

atlanta will be in the hunt. pacers(good luck) bucks (no way) i think those will be the worst teams in the east this year. ne way it is good to know that most of the players are already in camp. i would like to see the rooks in there getting a feel for the players on the court and off the court. and i am a little concerned that gil may strictly turn into a shooter and will refrain from the paint! i hope he remains all around, and dont be scared of getting hurt. i think the only thing that can possibly hurt us is injuries this season, but there will be known for the wiz this year ( knock on wood) but last year we pretty slapped the league with a 7-8 man roster, now we are a good 10-11 so we should be better, and keep in mind songaila was injured the first half of the season, hopefully he can bring some lithuinian swag back with him!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2007 6:32 PM | Report abuse

heres te order
1st detroit
2nd washington
3rd clevland
4th boston
5th miami
6th toronto
7th chicago
8th new jersey, orlando, magic, new york
stil dont count out te pacers
cause its te east

Posted by: ballaz | September 19, 2007 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Can you give us some insight as to if Ernie is still continuing to move or at least contemplating a move of Etan or Brendan? It seems every year there is a trade right before training camp begins. Could that be us this year? If not, why would we enter another year of Etan and Brendan battling for the starting job? It was a distraction last year with the fights and the inconsistency of both guys. Etan lacks size for the East and Brendan lacks heart to compete consistently every night. Why Haywood only plays hard when he's angry is a mystery that we should discontinue trying to figure out? I can't see O-PEC getting anything more than Booth or Ruffin type minutes, so I really don't include him in the discussion.

My question is does Ernie have anything brewing or are we stuck with the status quo at the Center postion?

Posted by: D-Young | September 19, 2007 7:02 PM | Report abuse

New Flash New Flash!!!! I hate to say it but the Wizard are not going to do much if they make the playoffs because EJ is not the right coach for this team. This team needs a defensive minded coach like the Van Gundy brothers. EJ has coach this team for 4 years and he still can't get them to play D. Someone please tell me why it will be different this go around? I would really like to heard something positive from someone why the D will be in Wizards this year. I dont want to get my hopes up for nothing.

Posted by: Rock Star | September 19, 2007 7:59 PM | Report abuse

You've got it wrong, Rock Star. EJ came in preaching defense, and was proud of the defense he got Jason Kidd to lead in New Jersey. But it never stuck with these guys. Ernie has brought in some defense-oriented guys, and he could do some more. But EJ has the Wizards winning. Look at the record, going back 20 years.

Posted by: zinger1 | September 19, 2007 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Wizards need a quick point guard...

Posted by: tyrone | September 19, 2007 9:34 PM | Report abuse

If the powers that be were to get rid of Haywood we Wizards fans would have a great deal more to cheer.

Posted by: Boogaloo | September 19, 2007 10:27 PM | Report abuse

"I would look for Caron to get some minutes at the 2 now and then. There's some big rugged 2's in the east, and with Hayes gone, I'd expect "The Butler" to serve up some tough physical play against certain guys. He also gives Jordan the option of taking a guy like Gordon down low and working him over."
Posted by: GM

I agree completely. Caron added muscle but still lost weight. He is so fit this year. He played well at the 2 guard for Kobe when Kobe was injured, so there is no question he can play that position. This would free up the log jam at forward. We could have a line up at times of:

Gil -pg
Caron -sg
Dominic McGuire -sf
AJ -pf
Etan -c

That would be a tough lineup, with Caron, DMac, and Etan playing D. Caron gets a lot steals and he is strong, DMac is a phenomenal shotblocker, and Etan will bang and rip down rebounds. And then we'd still have a lot of options with Daniels, Stevenson, DSong, Blatche, Pecherov. Looking forward to it! Go Wizards!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2007 1:08 AM | Report abuse

I also wonder about ET not being there. He's usually a staple at verizon's in the offseason from my understanding. Perhaps it indicates he has been told he will be traded.

Chase will be in camp.

I would love to see these practices and pickup games.

Caron can play some 2, and McGuire could be good there. We can use all kinds of looks with guys able to play multiple positions. Antawn can play 3 or 4, Blatche can play 3 to 5, as can Pesh, McGuire can play 4 to 2, Antonio at 1 or 2, Songaila at 4 or 5, and so on.

Posted by: Darnell | September 20, 2007 1:15 AM | Report abuse

Posts here are way off about Etan. He attended an old school big man's camp with the Chief, Robert Parish, and Clifford Ray during the offseason. They worked on positioning, blocking out, footwork, and the basics. Parish said he admired Etan's toughness and work ethic. Look for Etan to bust out at the beginning of the season and during the preseason just like he did last year when he won the starting center spot. Then let's hope he doesn't get injured again.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2007 1:15 AM | Report abuse

There is no way in this world that Caron can play the 2. His feet just aren't quick enough, and there's no one in the middle to protect the paint.

Posted by: Apu Jenkins | September 20, 2007 1:17 AM | Report abuse

Caron losing so much weight might work against him, since he likes to get down and dirty. Reports have caron at only 6'5". He might get pushed around easier, and he can't leap over taller guys.

Posted by: Rayful Edmond III | September 19, 2007 04:01 PM

What is this nonsense? Caron is 6'7", strong, and can leap over anyone in the league to throw down monster dunks. He'll be an even better dunker this year because his body fat is down to 6 or 7 %. You've been reading too many DC Boy88 posts.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2007 1:34 AM | Report abuse

There is no way in this world that Caron can play the 2. His feet just aren't quick enough, and there's no one in the middle to protect the paint.

Posted by: Apu Jenkins | September 20, 2007 01:17 AM

So when Caron played well at the 2 guard for Kobe when Kobe was injured, that was just an accident? You're typecasting Caron as a 3 because he's played so well there. I've seen him play several weeks at the 2 guard and he was great at it every game.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2007 1:37 AM | Report abuse

There is no way in this world that Caron can play the 2. His feet just aren't quick enough, and there's no one in the middle to protect the paint.

Posted by: Apu Jenkins | September 20, 2007 01:17 AM

You're wrong. GM is right. Look at these 2 guards: Joe Johnson at 6'8 and 233; TMac at 6'8 and 223; V Carter at 6'6" and 220; Q Rich at 6'6" and 220; M Finley at 6'7 and 225. This isn't college where 6'3" 168 pound 2 guards start; the NBA is for the big boys.

Okay, some skinny, quick 2 guards start in the NBA, but GM isn't saying move Caron to the 2 permanently. Just in some situations. Bottom line is we have more flexibility this year.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2007 1:54 AM | Report abuse

No way. Caron is just not quick enough to guard the top 2's. Also, the top 2's out there can shoot from long range. Caron just doesn't have that ability. Caron is only 6'5" and has average hops and a career .303 shooter from 3, and .25 last year.

Posted by: Apu Jenkins | September 20, 2007 2:36 AM | Report abuse

I am guessing that you are a Wizards hater and you're just trying to start an argument. Caron is one of the best leapers and slam dunkers in the NBA. He throws it down so hard that he's going to hurt someone. He's 6'7" and has proven he can play 2 guard with the Lakers, both on defense and offense.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2007 2:47 AM | Report abuse

Crown us the NBA Champions, baby! WooHoo

Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2007 6:21 AM | Report abuse

As far as Etan possibly getting injured again: Is the Pope Catholic?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2007 6:39 AM | Report abuse

BTW, Caron has been working on his long range shooting this off season. He was starting to hit the 3 some last season if you remember. Look for him to more of a long range threat this year.

Posted by: Tim | September 20, 2007 6:41 AM | Report abuse

I think that we're gonna do really well this year, especially with the young guys on our team. The one thing that just keeps eating me up inside, and I hate to say it, because I don't want to sound like a hater, but what's the deal with our Center player? Who do you think is going to step it up the most?

Posted by: Agent0 | September 20, 2007 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Lets not hammer Brendan so much before training camp even begin. The bottom line is we are a better team when he is in the game, then when he isn't.

Posted by: DMcCALL | September 20, 2007 9:15 AM | Report abuse

For those hoping for a trade for AK-47, as much as I would like to see it, it would mean big-time luxury tax for the Wizards next year. As the JCN saga proved, Grunfeld can't get Pollin to go over the luxury tax even a little. Unfortunately it is just wishful thinking at this point.
And also, you know Grunfeld tried to move one of the centers and resolve this issue and he couldn't do it. Hopefully Grunfeld has communicated to Jordan that playing favorites between the two won't cut it. And hopefully Grunfeld has sat down with BTH and Etan and said enough is enough. Stop acting like 6-year-olds with each other and grin and bear it for this year.

Posted by: George Templeton | September 20, 2007 9:16 AM | Report abuse

As far as I can tell, with out a dominate big man the Wiz could go as far as the second round. Breden has to mature and capitalize what he does best. The first thing I would suggest for him to change is his mind set. Breden thinks foward. He really should think center. Owner of the paint. From the elbows to the very top of the back board. This is your house, from the floor to the top of the back board. Example of a plyer who thought this way. David Thompson, Bill Russell, Caldwell Jones. These guys got up as you can.

It would relly help your team on the break if you could develop the technic of jumping for your rebound (explode) get the ball pero-et 180 release the ball for the outlet. Also use this same jump pero-et technic on your jump hook.

Posted by: mccoytw | September 20, 2007 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Caron is the heart and soul of this team, but let's not make him out to be Lebron James.

Posted by: Apu Jenkins | September 20, 2007 10:10 AM | Report abuse

AK is about as untradeable as Kobe, due to albatross salary. AK is stuck in Utah

Posted by: Wizzy | September 20, 2007 10:11 AM | Report abuse

How does the JCN situation prove anything? Were u in on the thinking of both Ernie and Pollin? I know, you were at the seat of the discussions, so you know the reason they did not sign JCN was because of the luxury tax.

The Wiz are a mystery with regards to where they are going to finish. There quite a few ifs surrounding this team, the least of which is the the center position. I can see them in the final and not making the playoffs just as easy.

Posted by: Skeef | September 20, 2007 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Regardless of what everybody else in the league did in the offseason, our begins and ends with Gilbert's ability to play like he did in December '06. PERIOD. This league is about who has the most talented player that can take over a game in the end, and Gilbert did that in December. Without Gil and Caron, we played 12 regular season and 4 post season games down to the wire with Jamison and role players. The only difference was Jamison couldn't get us over the hump he could just keep us in games. We need Gilbert mentally and physically ready to carry us at the end of games. Look at Chauncy Billups. Most games he doesn't even shoot until the fourth quarter....

Posted by: D-Young | September 20, 2007 10:51 AM | Report abuse

I hope FT shooting was on the agenda at the big man's camp?

Posted by: Mini Muresan | September 20, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

I hope Gilbert learned how to play some defense at Barry Farms this offseason.

Posted by: Rasheeda Moore | September 20, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse

I hope Gilbert learned how to play some defense at Barry Farms this offseason.

Posted by: Rasheeda Moore | September 20, 2007 11:51 AM

Now thats funny.......

Posted by: Bullets Fever #1 | September 20, 2007 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Remember we've hired a great shooting coach in Hopla to work with these guys. Since Hayes left and we didn't bring in another big two guard that's ready to play NBA level defense, common sense tells me Caron will get some minutes at two against some of the guys that are really small forwards anyway.
In this offense there's not a whole lot of difference between the two and the three anyway so I'd look for Caron to get some minutes now and then at the two. And I'd look for both the attempts and the accuracy to go up from the three line this year for Caron.
I'd agree Gilbert's the key, but Caron's ability to become a go to guy down the stretch will create a two headed monster for teams to cover while they have to worry about Jamison spotting up along with Deshawn. Add in Songalia's passing and shooting ability and this team could be deadly at crunch time in the fourth.
The NBA's always been about having guys that cause matchup problems and weapons to use to kill the opposition when they cheat off their man. This team will have more of both. If the rookies can battle their way into the rotation in time for the stretch run, Jordan will have alot of options to work with come playoff time.

Posted by: GM | September 20, 2007 12:10 PM | Report abuse

The problem with Jordan having a lot of options is that it means he will either resort to small ball or have an inconsistent starting lineup. There are a lot of questions going into the season, namely:

* Can Gilby play D and learn to share the ball/set up others?

* Who's the starting center? What makes people think the feud is over?

* Is AB mature enough and will he prove himself to warrant more PT?

* What can Caron do against some of the quickest, athletic, and explosive SG's in the east, namely Ray Allen, DWade, Rip, Larry Hughes, GWallace, RJeff, AndreI, LDeng, etc.?

* How will NYoung and DMac be used?

* Is there enough time in training camp for the new D coach to work in some solid schemes and have the players buy into it?

* What can DS do besides hit the open shot once in awhile?


Posted by: DC Man88 | September 20, 2007 12:24 PM | Report abuse

I keep thinking about Pacman Jones for some reason when I read the "Reign" slogan.

Posted by: Larry | September 20, 2007 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Caron not able to jump over people? Gawd, man, he dunked on Yao Ming last year!

Stop smokin' what your son was sellin'.

Posted by: iceberg | September 20, 2007 2:51 PM | Report abuse

PLEASE IGNORE DC MAN88. DO NOT RESPOND TO HIM OR ACKNOWLEDGE HIM. HE IS RUDE, VULGAR, AND HIS POSTS ARE NOT APPROPRIATE TO THIS BLOG.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

i think the wiz will be around 45 wins again (maybe 47). people said that if there weren't injuries, our team would pretty much be among the top of the east; however, we aren't much of a "great" team anyway at the beginning before the injury hit. i like to see them reach 50 wins and don't have to worry about all the teams behind us.

Posted by: nv | September 20, 2007 3:03 PM | Report abuse

"we aren't much of a "great" team anyway at the beginning before the injury hit."

Amen to that. I say Les BouleS hit .500.

Posted by: DC Man88 | September 20, 2007 3:43 PM | Report abuse


Boston improved, obviously, but I don't think New York is going to get that much better with Randolph, since he doesn't play any more D than Eddy Curry does. Rashard Lewis isn't going to help Orlando that much, either, since they already had a big man (Hedo T.) who loves to jack up threes. Milwaukee might be a little better with Yi, but not right away. Cleveland, NJ, and Detroit basically stayed in the same place, while Miami lost a key player (Kapono) and may not have a healthy D. Wade for awhile. So I'd say that the Wiz have a good shot not just to make the playoffs again, but to finish in one of the top four spots.

Posted by: John Brisker | September 20, 2007 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Charlotte should be much better.

Posted by: DC Man88 | September 20, 2007 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget Atlanta too. They have the famous Les BouleS killah. Zaza, nevermind all the existing and new thoroughbreds on that team.

Posted by: DC Man88 | September 20, 2007 4:15 PM | Report abuse

wooohooo!!

Posted by: son of DC Man88 | September 20, 2007 4:21 PM | Report abuse

"I say Les BouleS hit .500" Posted by DC Man88

Going to bet another 7 grand on that?

Posted by: GM | September 20, 2007 4:24 PM | Report abuse

"Going to bet another 7 grand on that?

Posted by: GM | September 20, 2007 04:24 PM"

Not even if you're wife's the winning "prize." I'll pass on that filly.

Posted by: DC Man88 | September 20, 2007 5:02 PM | Report abuse

GM, no insult to your wife, 88's just more of a "fella" guy than one that likes the fillys!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2007 5:21 PM | Report abuse

The only action I ever get is with my right hand and my left thumb at wankers.com and only when Mom is downstairs. I can't afford her walking in on me again. Last time she made me go down to the job training center to apply for jobs and then wouldn't let me watch America's Next Top Model with her.

Posted by: DC Man88 | September 20, 2007 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Bwahahahahaha!!!

The more things are proposed to change, the more they stay the same. I love it. Nobody can stick to the rule that someone preaches here, and that is to ignore me.

You got GM taking a stab at me, you got another loser saying I like fellas, and finally you have someone posting using my name to make a post. I'm glad I bring out the best in ya'll.

SOOO Funny!

Posted by: DC Man88 | September 20, 2007 5:37 PM | Report abuse

thanks all, I'm loving it!! keep on posting!!

SOOO Funny!

Posted by: DC Man88 | September 20, 2007 7:42 PM | Report abuse

"Why don't you spend some time figuring out why the NBA is 95% black and why the EEOC isn't spending time trying to make owners make their teams reflect the US population percentages a bit better."

Posted by: DC Man88 | September 16, 2007 11:12 AM

"DSong is probably the only guy on this team (he's white) who understands the criticality of passing, playing team D, and taking smart shots."

Posted by: DC Man88 | September 15, 2007 09:27 AM

Hey DC, how bout you and a bunch of us get together at a bar in Southeast?

http://www.rivals.com/rfFan.asp?User=238612&Post=

That's DC Boy88's website. It has his sorry photo, too.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2007 8:54 PM | Report abuse

"Hey DC, how bout you and a bunch of us get together at a bar in Southeast?

http://www.rivals.com/rfFan.asp?User=238612&Post=

That's DC Boy88's website. It has his sorry photo, too.

Posted by: | September 20, 2007 08:54 PM "


Only if the Lexus club was still open and your moms was dancing that night.

Posted by: DC Man88 | September 20, 2007 9:23 PM | Report abuse

You didn't mention how Haywood did during this game.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 21, 2007 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Mike Lee - Great Articles..

To the very unenlightened.....

Is everybody on this blog 19 or 20 yrs old?

Many NBA players "ENJOY" playing on concrete - year round. Iverson is King @ that been doing it for years - Will play anytime anywhere day or night. You guys get excited about Caron and Gil cuz your view is small.

Trust me...loads of these guys love street ball. These two guys aren't special But they want ot be respected by the brothers in the hood. For Arenas - who had NO hood in him being from LA - LA, LA Land and Arizona??? Phew!! he constantly needs the baptism of playing with "real black brothers" For Caron? After seeing Butler out & about..his posse is truly from the hood. Black Hartford Hood"
They might be millionaires - but who'd know it? Besides Jamison - The rest still dress and drag along like slugs, hoodlums and bums! Etan? thought the brother needed a handout with his dirty runover earth sandles...Does he have muscles under his dashikes?...You might remove Stevensons' gold teeth..it might give him a little leverage to the hoop..

"READY TO REIGN"? over what and who? Thats the question..

Thomas


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Posted by: wwqwqrlkzj | October 1, 2007 3:29 PM | Report abuse

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