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Checking in

If you read my story in today's paper you know that Etan Thomas underwent surgery yesterday morning at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Mn and is in the process of recovering. Neither the doctors nor the team provided detail about the procedure last night because Thomas had yet to provide doctors or the team the neccessary clearance to discuss his medical situation.

We do know that the situation is most likely season ending but that other athletes have come back from similar procedures and continued their athletic careers (current Lakers F Ronny Turiaf and former SF 49ers OL Jesse Sapolu underwent aortic valve procedures). More information should be made available today.

The good news is that, barring some surgical complication we don't yet know about, Etan should be able to go on and live a full, healthy life regardless of what he chooses to do with basketball. He's a husband, a father and an all-around good guy so I wish him nothing but the best. It's been stated before, but if any pro athlete is equipped to move on and do other things if he so chooses, it's Etan Thomas.

A lot of folks have asked about any potential salary cap implications related to the possibility of Thomas being declared out for the season. As I wrote in my story today, Etan has three years and $20 million remaining on his deal. The CBA has a provision which states that should a player be declared out for the season, the team could acquire a free agent or create room to accept a salary in a trade. The exception can be used only to acquire one player, and the max salary for the replacement player is 50 percent of the injured player's salary, or the average NBA salary, whichever is less. A league-designated physician would have to approve before the exception would be used.

Thing is, even if the exception applies in this particular case, there aren't many big men available. I heard that one person with the team - not someone in the front office - reached out to P.J. Brown to inquire about his possible interest but Brown, who played with Chicago last season but is an unrestricted free agent right now, said he would only consider playing for a team like Dallas, San Antonio, Detroit etc. - in other words, a team he believes can win a title this season. Can't confirm that, just passing along what I heard.

When asked about his big man situation yesterday, Coach Eddie Jordan again sounded as if he's comfortable with what he has. He likes Brendan Haywood as his starter (more on that stunning development in a minute) and likes what he's seen out of Andray Blatche, Darius Songaila and Oleksiy Pecherov as well. All three played minutes at center Tuesday night and were effective. I talked to Brendan after Tuesday's game and he said he is ready to carry as many minutes as Jordan is willing to give him. As I mentioned in my story today, Brendan had his most productive season statistically in 2004-2005 when he played a career-high 27.4 minutes.

"I can play as many minutes as they need me to play," Haywood said following Tuesday's game. "I've been waiting a long time for an opportunity to play a lot of minutes and hopefully, I'll be ready if that's what I'm asked to do."

Darius said he would also be comfortable playing some center.

"There will be games where I'll play at the five but obviously it will depend on who we are playing against," Songaila said. "If it's Shaq or Yao, then that's a different story but you know, some teams go small and I can matchup against those kinds of teams."

Blatche described himself as "very comfortable" playing center and believes that his skills as a passer, dribble and rebounder can potentially make him a tough matchup for bigger centers. "They may be bigger than me in the paint but they also have to come out and guard me when I step away from the basket and that can help us spread the floor. I feel that one of my strengths is my passing and in our offense, that's important."


Anyway, Jordan was discussing his big men in the hallway at Verizon Center when Brendan happened to roll out of the lockeroom and strolled past while waving hello to the talking Jordan.

"We only have one real, true center and he's walking past right now and it's a good relationship there," Jordan said as the media crew busted out laughing.

Eddie and Brendan getting along? Maybe there is hope for world peace.

More Eddie on the big man situation: "We're not really looking at it as if we have a center and a backup center. We're looking at having all of our big guys doing the same thing. In terms of alignments, we have two bigs and three smalls that can play together."

(Blogger's note to clarify something because some folks freaked out when I quoted Eddie saying this the other night.) When he talks about "two bigs" and "three smalls" I don't think Eddie is talking about super small lineups like some we saw last season with Antawn Jamison at center. Remember, Dominic McGuire is a small forward so he's one of those "smalls" as is Caron Butler and in some lineups, the 6-foot-11 Blatche and the 7-foot-0 Pecherov will likely play some "small' forward as well.

In fact, I think you'll see the Wizards play more "big" lineups that many teams in the league. Assuming that Blatche continues to bring it as he has so far (and we'll see about that) and given the intriguing possibilities presented by the versatile Pecherov along with the established presence that is Songaila, that bench could be very "big" indeed. Also, the 6-foot-8 McGuire seems to play bigger than he actually is. The guy has a knack for rebounding and blocking shots but can also move his feet well enough to defend on the perimeter. It's early but there is no doubt that the coaches are excited about his potential. When I asked Caron about McGuire in Richmond, tough juice noted that the rookie plays with "no fear."

"He's too young to be afraid of anything," Caron said. "He's just out there throwing his body around, making things happen. That's something we need coming off that bench."

Eddie was asked whether he felt that Tony Massenburg was now his most "physical player": "No, I wouldn't say that. I think that Darius is very physical. He may not look physical like Tony. Darius is clean shaven and doesn't have the ripples like Tony but he's very physical... We have some physical guys."

Heading off to practice in a bit and I'll update later on.


By Ivan Carter  |  October 12, 2007; 8:32 AM ET
 
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Next: Etan update II

Comments

Great update Ivan!

Can you get some insight on the Wiz uniforms this season? Are we going to wear the throwback orange again? What about the gold/black alternates?

Posted by: Juan DC | October 12, 2007 9:23 AM | Report abuse

i still think we should go after a true center. if haywood gets hurt what we going do when we play miami, houston, etc

Posted by: i | October 12, 2007 9:34 AM | Report abuse

I am glad Etan's surgery went well. I wish him a quick recovery. I am sure basketball is the last thing on his mind but do you think the Wizards are regretting letting Booth go? He would have been a good insurance backup to Haywood and all the other non-traditional centers we're depending upon this season.

Posted by: Bart | October 12, 2007 10:10 AM | Report abuse

According to Ivan's article on the Post, Willie Deane and Jamon Gordon were released, and DT is still there.

Looks like EJ likes to keep his guy!

Posted by: Sagaliba | October 12, 2007 10:11 AM | Report abuse

songaila 07-08 allstar

Posted by: gary | October 12, 2007 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Ivan didn't say that Etan's surgery went well, Bart. We don't know yet.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 12, 2007 10:37 AM | Report abuse

I'd love to see the Wizards keep the team we have and forget about adding another player. We're fine. Even if Haywood were to get injured, we'd be ok with the style of play that we have. An uptempo game with a smaller center has proven to be effective in this league. I'm convinced that the NBA is changing and the style of the future is going to be closer to the international style of play. Big men are now not required to stay in the post and play with their backs to the basket. Teams will have 4 or 5 three point threats on the court at the same time. That's why Phoenix is so good. Collapse on anyone and you're leaving an open 3 for someone else. Once the Suns win it all (assuming they do), we'll see the league turn to 'smallball'. We'll be ahead of the curve since we're already equipped with mid-sized athletic, jumpshooting players.

Posted by: mark | October 12, 2007 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Detroit? PJ Brown would rather play for Detroit than the Wizards? Does he really think that they are still contenders? Does anybody?

Perhaps I have a hometown bias, but I really think that Detroit was a one-hit wonder. Without B Wallace and Larry Brown, they have lost their toughness and their edge. I predict we take 3 out of 4 from them this year.

Posted by: Joe | October 12, 2007 11:20 AM | Report abuse

"(Blogger's note to clarify something because some folks freaked out when I quoted Eddie saying this the other night.)"

Me and Henry didn't freak out. :P

"We're utilizing an offense where we may have three smalls [[[[[GUARDS]]]]] and two bigs [forwards and centers], so they're pretty much interchangeable."

Umm, so what did we misunderstand Ivan?

P.J. Brown can kiss our butts also when the Wiz are in the finals and he's at home watching them on TV.

Personally I'd rather have them save the cap space.

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | October 12, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

well since u guys love the small ball. im 5'6 tell the wizards sign me @ center. i'll take a third of Etans salary.

Posted by: i | October 12, 2007 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Ray goes:

>>>"We're utilizing an offense where we may have three smalls [[[[[GUARDS]]]]] and two bigs [forwards and centers], so they're pretty much interchangeable."

Umm, so what did we misunderstand Ivan?>>>

You're forgetting that this coach played 6'11" Jared Jeffries as a Princeton 'small'.

Dom McGuire could fit this role, or with a ballhandling Big like Andray in the line-up Caron could take minutes at the off-guard.

The swift development of ballhawking Dom McGuire will mean the coach will try to find playtime for him. But it's no good if he only gets to play behind the all-star Caron. Might as well maximize your strengths.

D-Mac the Dominator looks like he's gonna have the kind of versatility that the Princeton hybrid system thrives with, that the Wizards thrive with. "Tweenerism" becomes a strength as opponents don't know how to guard you, what position you're playing at any given minute.

The team becomes one step closer to that mythical ideal of playing 5 6'9" guys with the skillset (inside/outside/passing/scoring) of (EJ teammate) Magic Johnson.

So. No fear. No panic.

Posted by: doclinkin | October 12, 2007 11:40 AM | Report abuse

So will EJ trim the roster to 13 or move to 15. Believe they would keep Tony as insurance.

Posted by: Gareth | October 12, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for defending us, Ray!

Ivan said:
(Blogger's note to clarify something because some folks freaked out when I quoted Eddie saying this the other night.) When he talks about "two bigs" and "three smalls" I don't think Eddie is talking about super small lineups like some we saw last season with Antawn Jamison at center.

I definitely appreciate you sharing what you "think Eddie is talking about," Ivan, but in my opinion his comments were entirely consistent with what he did last year -- play power forwards at the center position. This year he kind of doesn't have a choice with Etan out and Booth gone -- he'll have to do it at times -- but he DOES have a choice to play his one center 20 minutes/game or play him 35.

I will stop "freaking out" when Jordan says or shows that he is committed to putting a good defensive team on the floor and doesn't stick guys like Songalia at center by choice (not necessity) at times when they can't defend the opposing center because the other team is not going small.

Posted by: Henry | October 12, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

What would we do without ....Ivan Carter!!!!

Posted by: Nina | October 12, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse

When are the Wizards going to provide any information about Etan? It's unbelievable that they haven't even indicated that he survived his surgery. Ivan's article this morning said nothing about it either. (Ivan says above that his article said Etan is recovering, but his article didn't say that. But I hope that's the case).

Posted by: Anonymous | October 12, 2007 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Ivan, thanks for getting back to us about salary cap ramifications. Also, thanks to all of those in the other post that supported the fact that this is a forum on basketball, and wishing Etan well and at the effects this has on the team are not mutually exclusive entities. Political correctness, ugggh...anyway, I feel like this team is good enough. Let's ride this thing out. The chemistry seems good, the versatility seems to flow just right the way it is right now. I think Haywood can be an effective C given the proper motivation and minutes. He has both now. Blatche and Pecherov (this, I believe, WILL be a dynamic duo in the next year or two) will now have ample opportunity to be on the floor at the same time. Maybe I'm being Utopian, but I can really see the instances of this off-season as the perfect storm of events, which could lead us to a real prominence in the East. Then again, I could be dead wrong, and we'll be what Hollinger thought we were! We let 'em off the hook!

Posted by: RichBoy | October 12, 2007 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Typo: sorry!

Ivan, thanks for getting back to us about salary cap ramifications. Also, thanks to all of those in the other post that supported the fact that this is a forum on basketball, and wishing Etan well and discussing the effects this has on the team are not mutually exclusive entities. Political correctness, ugggh...anyway, I feel like this team is good enough. Let's ride this thing out. The chemistry seems good, the versatility seems to flow just right the way it is right now. I think Haywood can be an effective C given the proper motivation and minutes. He has both now. Blatche and Pecherov (this, I believe, WILL be a dynamic duo in the next year or two) will now have ample opportunity to be on the floor at the same time. Maybe I'm being Utopian, but I can really see the instances of this off-season as the perfect storm of events, which could lead us to a real prominence in the East. Then again, I could be dead wrong, and we'll be what Hollinger thought we were! We let 'em off the hook!

Posted by: RichBoy | October 12, 2007 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Will Thomas count toward the roster limit of 15 even though his salary wont count toward the salary cap limit ?

Posted by: whocares | October 12, 2007 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Detroit? PJ Brown would rather play for Detroit than the Wizards? Does he really think that they are still contenders? Does anybody? Perhaps I have a hometown bias, but I really think that Detroit was a one-hit wonder. Without B Wallace and Larry Brown, they have lost their toughness and their edge. I predict we take 3 out of 4 from them this year.

One-hit wonder? FIVE STRAIGHT EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS. Hello????

We're you even alive the last time the Bullets/Wizards were in the conference finals?

Posted by: Joe Dumars | October 12, 2007 2:09 PM | Report abuse

The Wiz now have 16 on the roster, counting Etan. I don't think Etan will count on the roster this season, which means as it currently stands Taylor and Massenburg made the team.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 12, 2007 2:31 PM | Report abuse

You know who the Wiz should have gone after this offseason (and yes, I know I'm likely to get flamed for this)?

Jason Kapono.

Hey, if we're gonna live on the perimiter -which is kind of silly anyway - we might as well have someone who can knock down the three 50% of the time. We need someone to come in off the bench and just drain 'em.

Posted by: Washington Ball | October 12, 2007 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Joe,

How can you say Detroit was a one hit wonder, or that they are done? Do you remember who the #1 seed has been in the East the past 2 seasons? True, they may not be the favorites to win the title, but are still one of the most serious contenders in the East. I think people saw Cleveland knock them out, and assume they are done. Do you realize they were the best in the East last year, and dismantled Orlando and Chicago b4 Cleveland? To dismiss them is nuts.

Posted by: Steven | October 12, 2007 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Did you say WIZARDS In THE

F I N A L S ???????????


Can I sign as backup center???

Posted by: Phil Jackson | October 12, 2007 5:34 PM | Report abuse

"The nerve of PJ Brown if that earlier post was accurate. He's a scrub/journeyman anyway."

Then why do you seem so pissed off that he spurned the Wiz's advances?

Brown is neither a scrub nor a journeyman. He's a vet with a solid career behind him who, even at his age, could help some teams.

Posted by: kalorama | October 12, 2007 9:33 PM | Report abuse

"You're forgetting that this coach played 6'11" Jared Jeffries as a Princeton 'small'."

Very true Doc, but you know he loves that smallball and will do it again if he gets the chance. ;)

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | October 13, 2007 12:23 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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