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Back in the mix

Sorry for the lack of posts the last two days but my trusty computer, a companion that has made numerous road trips, filed hundreds of pieces on deadline, avoided countless cups of joe and posted thousands of blog posts for your reading pleasure (or, displeasure depending on the post) is out indefinetely after being steamrolled by a fan at Sunday's Wiz/Hawks game.

It played injured long enough for me to file my gamer Sunday evening and get a blog post up Sunday night but obviously couldn't handle the pain upon arrival back in the district yesterday morning. It underwent an MRI this morning but Post techies haven't given me a timetable so I'm writing this on a newly acquired loaner. I'm teaching it the offense and figuring out just how coachable this hungry scrapper is. We'll see. We're off to a good start.

From today's practice:

-The mood was upbeat and it's pretty obvious that this team feels that a load has been lifted off of it with Sunday's win. That said, they also know that they need to build on Sunday. The schedule will help: starting with tomorrow night's game against Indy, the next seven opponents were a comined 12-27 going into tonight's game.

-Gilbert said he underwent an MRI yesterday just to be safe and the results were good. "I'm fine," he said.
He didn't practice for the second straight day but did do some shooting and ballhandling work. I think the biggest affect on his game has been his dribbling. There were times on Sunday when he made a quick move but didn't cleanly get the ball where he wanted it to be. He also got ripped late in the game by Joe Johnson and that rarely happened last year.

-I watched Sunday's game while sitting next to an NBA scout who has worked in the league a long time. We sat at the scorer's table and while he jotted down the usual stuff: inbounds plays, defensive calls, signals for running a particularly play etc., he was also watching the body language of the team and Jordan.

His take was telling: "They are off to a bad start but you can tell that they respect Eddie and like playing for him. They respond well to him in the huddle and when he makes a call. He's still got that team. Believe me, I've seen teams quit on a guy and this team hasn't done that."

Later, after the Wiz put it away, the scout remarked: "Gilbert isn't himself yet but that team is going to be fine. They have guys who know how to play and they played well together today. And they can put the ball in the hole. That's key."

A few folks on the blog believe that I, along with Mike Wise and Mike Lee, "defend" Eddie or otherwise refuse to criticize him. Foks are welcome to make that read based on my reporting and/or the opinions written by Mr. Wise but I think I've been critical in my analysis of how this team has played at times over the last three seasons and I will continue to do so this season. I've asked Eddie pointed questions about his rotations, late-game decision making, use of matchups etc., in order to provide you folks good answers via my stories in the post and in this blog.

My only thought on the man's job status is this: we're six games into the season and Jordan has taken this team to three straight playoff appearances. He lost a chance to build on what happened in the first half of last season because his top dogs got hurt. The guy coached in the All Star game in February. I don't think it's crazy to reason that the guy deserves a large chunk of this season to coach this team before he should be thrown out of the job. That's just my read. Folks are free to their own views. Maybe they are right. Maybe they aren't. I guess we'll all see.

-Folks on the previous post were commenting on Tom Thibodeau, speculating that the situation wasn't broken down in the Post. Actually, I did break it down in the blog though I didn't hit it as hard in the paper. As you remember, Thibodeau took the job but before signing the paperwork, he changed his mind and broke camp.

Now, he made that decision for a number of possible reasons, among them:

1) He got here, read the lay of the land and decided he wanted no part of it. As was reported here first, Eddie's assistants got one year extensions and they had to wait all summer to get them. Mike O'Koren, one of those assistants, carries the title of Associate Head Coach. So, how awkard would it have been for Tom Thibodeau had he signed a deal for two-years or longer? (which is what I heard it was).

Perhaps he sensed that tension exists or existed between Eddie and Ernie Grunfeld and wasn't cool with that. Remember, Thibodeau and Grunfeld were in New York with the Knicks at the same time. Had he been perceived as a "Ernie guy" would that have made Eddie uncomfortable? (Eddie said he had no such concerns). I know this: few coaches want to be in a position of being seen as a guy who is going to undermine the current assistants and/or head coach.

2) He changed his mind for other reasons, reasons he's never discussed publically. Maybe he knew the Boston job would be there later. Maybe he didn't like DC. Maybe he saw the players he would have to teach defense and decided he had a better chance elsewhere. Who knows? The fact is, I heard theories from several "sources" and much of it was conflicting. Thibodeau himself has never said what went down while Ernie and Eddie simply said that he changed his mind and that was that. I made the decision to not throw reporting out there when I couldn't confirm my information through solid sourcing.

-We're conducting an online chat tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. (Not here. Look for the tab on the front of the sports web page with the info on the chat.) I promise to get to as many questions as I can, including questions about what I just posted above. Now, I can't get to every single question because we get a ton, but I'll do my best.

Check you foks out later.....

By Ivan Carter  |  November 13, 2007; 7:40 PM ET
 
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