Monday update

Forward Caron Butler, who missed the last five games and Sunday's all-star game, practiced at full speed tonight and will likely play tomorrow night against the Knicks if that left hip is feeling fine in the morning at shootaround.

Also, center Etan Thomas, who has not played or practiced all season and underwent open-heart surgery on Oct. 11, has been cleared to fully participate in practice. He wasn't in the gym when it was opened to the media this evening so I didn't see what Etan was and was not doing but Coach Eddie Jordan said he was going through some 3 on 3 and 4 on 4 contact stuff. No timetable has been set for Etan's return to game action but Jordan has been speaking as though it's a certainty.

Gilbert Arenas also appears to be moving closer to a return and today he was going through some five-on-air drills and also did some full court one-on-one stuff with Nick Young. He's moving well on that left knee and says he is gaining strength. When we were in Oakland on the recently completed roadie, I watched as Gilbert went through an intense on-court workout with athletic trainer Eric Waters. Arenas both ran forward and did lateral movements while dragging Waters with resistence cables.

Gilbert again said that he has set the March 2 game against New Orleans as a possible date of return to game action but he added that it could be before or after that date depending upon how the knee responds to increased stress.

By Ivan Carter |  February 18, 2008; 8:53 PM ET
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gotta a feeling we might see Etan on that 3-game road trip next week... if Gil can go March 1st what's the problem with leap day @ da bulls? bring him off the bench for a little lift (ass whoopings @ NO & HOU might make this a necessity).

Posted by: D double | February 18, 2008 9:26 PM

hey gilbert should come back on march 8 because we have 5 straight home games that would be good for him because he does not have to travel

Posted by: brandon | February 18, 2008 9:48 PM

Failure of the Wiz to bring in a couple of serviceable players is an indication that the management/OWNERS are not ready to sacrifice to go for a Championship. Areanas foolishly {?against medical advice?] tried to come back too fast and now he is living in Fear. Thomas can not psychologically take a Blow to the chest before next season [if then]. WE NEED HELP. SEASON TICKET HOLDERS TAKE NOTE.

Posted by: Charles | February 18, 2008 11:56 PM

When Etan comes back, do we have any playing time for him? It's good to have as many bodies as possible and good to have him back healthy again but as it stands, Pech is getting little time and BTH is still not playing as many minutes as he could.
While I understand the need to have a full squad for practices and all, Etan should rarely get off the bench.

Posted by: mark | February 19, 2008 6:58 AM

I still think Gilbert should rest untik April. He's gonna hurt the knee again, watch.

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Posted by: Preklyfetle | February 19, 2008 9:13 AM


Getting back Caron and Gilbert will indeed help this team make a playoff push. Thier goal between now and come playoff time is to stay health, last year the players broke down and the Wizards got bounced outta of the first round; if this team can focus on staying health, along with getting wins, they can do some serious damage in the playoffs. We've seen that the Wizards can play soild team defense and that there not afirad to play the top teams in the east, ie Boston...so if they can get Caron and Gilbert healthly, this team can perhaps make it to the Eastern Conference Finals, heck maybe end up in the NBA Finals, never know...Boston isn't as solid on their bench and the Pistons always collapse the in the Eastern Conference Finals, they've done so the last 4 years

Posted by: Robert C. | February 19, 2008 9:21 AM

Best news for the Wiz is that guys seem to be regaining their health. Better to have had the injury jinx early then down the stretch like last year.

IF healthy this can be a dangerous team come playoff time. If all of the big three are hurt at one time or another in the second half like last year it's going to be tough to watch.

Though they struggled to win the youngsters continued to show some good signs during the recent short handed road trip.

Mark, can't ever have too many healthy bigs rolling into the playoffs in the NBA. If Etan gets in game shape Eddie will find some spots for him.

About the blows to the chest, I think I read they were going to have Etan fitted with some kind of chest protector in order to play. Ivan will he play with a chest protector or is that just for practice until he's cleared for games?

Posted by: GM | February 19, 2008 10:07 AM

Ironic that the guy most likely to crack someone else's sternum is going t o have to protect his sternum til it heals completely. The one thing I liked about Etan is his attitude when he knew a rebound was within reach. If you happened to get in the way of his swinging elbows, oh well.
It's a good think big Gheorghe is no longer on the team. His turnaround elbows-out move used to routinely crack people in the head, neck, or whatever body part was within reach.

Posted by: mark | February 19, 2008 11:21 AM

By Les BouleS medical staff clearing Gilby and ET to practice, that really means they are about 5 weeks from actually being ready. Be scared, very scared.

Posted by: DC Man88 | February 19, 2008 11:34 AM

ET has a spot on the bench. I'm sure he will get limited minutes against certain match-ups. It will be nice when we get healthy and players resume their original roles.
DS goes back to his defensive role and 5th option.
RM comes in as a 2 guard.
AD plays 15 to 20 minutes as GA's backup.

I think it was you mark, but someone mentioned bringing AJ off of the bench and starting AB. That might work, it certainly would be worth a try. AB has shown he prefers to start, at least his stats say so and bringing AJ off of the bench creates bench scoring. This only works if BH continues to make his opportunities count.

Posted by: JSchon | February 19, 2008 11:39 AM

Well I am back in DC from Poland for a week and will be a, um, ah, witness to both tonight's home game and Saturday's.

Glad to see that Caron is back and apparently healthy!

I think this is as critical a homestretch as any Wizards/Bullets team has encountered for years.

My fingers are crossed that we can hold the six spot in the East and integrate Gilbert into the high quality team-first play that developed in the first half of the year (despite the recent hiccup).

If we can do this we have a shot at making some real playoff noise for once.

Posted by: khrabb | February 19, 2008 11:57 AM

Any word on AD?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 19, 2008 12:34 PM

I mean, I am glad Etan is healthy and all, but am I the only one who does not care if he ever came back to play for the Wiz? He's just not very good in my opinion.

Posted by: Ryan | February 19, 2008 12:53 PM

JScon, I actually wanted to see that at the beginning of the year (AB starting with AJ off the bench) but the way AJ has played this year, I would not take him out of the lineup. I reasoned last year that the reason he came off the bench in Dallas was because he wa identified as a poor defender and he would be better off just coming in and shooting. His improved rebounding and solid play made me eat my words. Though we'd no doubt be better defensively with AB starting, the dropoff on offense might be too great. I can't imagine the team leader and captain agreeing to it, either. I'd like to keep this team the way it is and roll with what we have once everyomne is healthy. Hopefully it's clear that AB needs playing time and flourishes with it, though. That's the blessing in disguise to CB's injury.

Posted by: mark | February 19, 2008 12:56 PM

AD played over minutes in the Wiz win over the Clippers. I'm sure he is fine, for now.

ET contract is awful, I'm sure if they could move him they would. But he isnt really good and his contract doesnt expire for 3 years?

Posted by: JSchon | February 19, 2008 12:56 PM

Ryan, you are not the only one.

Posted by: mark | February 19, 2008 12:57 PM

Over 40 minutes... anon

Posted by: JSchon | February 19, 2008 12:57 PM

Given all the health issues, the Wiz will in all likelihood finish 6th in the East. They are too far behind Orlando (7 games) to win the division and they most likely will not catch Cleveland or Toronto for 4th or 5th. They should focus on holding off the Hawks, Nets and 76ers for 6th. If they finish 6th, they would play the Magic in the 1st round, which is not a bad match-up, except for DH vs. BTH. By the playoffs, they will have a legit 10-man rotation, with BTH, AJ, CB, Gilbert and DeShawn backed up by Etan, AB, DS, Roger and AD, with Nick, Pech and McGuire in reserve.

Posted by: Rockville | February 19, 2008 1:08 PM

I say, play for the eights seed and play the Celtics with a healthy team including Gilby and ET.

Posted by: DC Man88 | February 19, 2008 1:20 PM

I agree with mark and Ryan wholeheartedly about Etan. He's just a guy- and a short guy, for the 5, at that.

I'd much rather have Blatche backing up Haywood and Song/Pech backing up Jamison (Pech in actuality, but Song is this year's Jarvis for Eddie).

Whatever happens this year, I think we've seen enough to know that Blatche is the future at PF. I love Jamison and everything he brings to the team - his intangibles are critical - but I hope that Ernie agrees that he has some leverage in his negotiations with Antawn, since he has a ready replacement.

He can't wreck the cap structure for a 31-year-old player who could start to decline at any time.

We won't be able to move Etan until he's in expiring-contract territory.

Posted by: Keithinator | February 19, 2008 1:34 PM

"Mark, can't ever have too many healthy bigs rolling into the playoffs in the NBA. If Etan gets in game shape Eddie will find some spots for him".

Posted by: GM | February 19, 2008 10:07 AM

You are right GM. This is what worries me the most. Nothing against Etan, but he is not the player (i.e. Ruffin) EJ tries to make him be. EJ already skims Haywood's minutes with Songalia, so just imagine when he has Etan back as an option? EJ can now stick it to EG now for getting rid of his other two security blankets (Ruffin and Hayes).

As I have said before, I do not have a problem with Songalia and Etan as "basketball players, I just have a problem with EJ playing them at the "5" instead of the "4" where they belong.

Because EJ likes to do this, he takes away those minutes from Haywood and AB at the "5". This looks like this will never change, so I guess we should all get ready for a "heavy dose" of "slow-small-ball"!!!

Posted by: Bullets Fever #1 | February 19, 2008 2:10 PM

Small ball rocks !

Posted by: muggsy bogues | February 19, 2008 2:42 PM

I'm not sure where Etan is going to fit into the rotation at this point, since both BTH and Blatche have been playing pretty well for the most part. He might get some of Songaila's and/or Pecherov's minutes. Or maybe not. I wish Etan had some ballhandling skills and a 10-to 15-foot jumper, because at 6'9" or so, he's really better suited height-wise to play the 4.

Posted by: John Brisker | February 19, 2008 2:44 PM

Odom for Butler??? Why has this trade rumor started???

Posted by: Josh | February 19, 2008 3:11 PM

"Mark, can't ever have too many healthy bigs rolling into the playoffs in the NBA. "

Exactly. Etan's return gives the team options and flexibility that they currently lack. For instance, for all of the hoopla over how much better Blatche plays a s a starter, certainly it must have occurred to someone that the reason he does so well in the starting lineup may not be just because he's starting, but because when he starts he plays his natural forward position, rather than playing out of position at C. With Etan out, Jordan had no other viable option coming into the season than to play Blatche at the 5. With Etan back, Blatche can get more minutes at the 4 where he's clearly more comfortable.

Having too many guys who can play is always better than having too few.

Posted by: kalorama | February 19, 2008 3:26 PM

EJ said at the all-star game last year that Washington management was never going to be serious about winning a championship (i.e., maneuvering for a player who could put them over the top). So it makes sense that they won't give him any help no matter how many people go down. If they can limp along into the playoffs and advance to the second round, Pollin and Grunfeld would be happy enough. Sadly, the East is weak enough for this to be a realistic expectation.

Bringing back Arenas before next year is a mistake. We're not a serious threat for the finals, and the cost could be another year without him. I think Arenas' only motive is that it's a contract year, and he feels like he needs to prove he's worth the BIG, BIG contract without the question mark of "the injury." He can actually see how much money slips away with doing the smart thing, and it's killing him almost as much as the earlier "team play" successes without him.

We need Jamison. A lot. He's really the only consistent rebounder over the past four years. And he scores 20 with ease. We can't afford to take that for granted. I love Blatsche, but he's still not there so far as consistency and leadership are concerned. And I think this team without Jamison is much, much more suspect.

Thomas is a bust--nice guy, but not good enough to justify his salary. But if Ernie could trade Kwame for Caron, I'm pretty sure we'll end up with something pretty nice for Etan. To get anything, though, Thomas has to play and play reasonably well. (On second thought, the same is pretty much true of Gilbert.)

In the end, what will make the biggest difference whether Pollin decides he really wants to win it all; and to be fair to him, what he needs to see is that the DC fan base can justify the expense. God knows the Caps may never recoup what they've spent on Ovechkin.

Posted by: Joe | February 19, 2008 3:30 PM

"About the blows to the chest, I think I read they were going to have Etan fitted with some kind of chest protector in order to play. Ivan will he play with a chest protector or is that just for practice until he's cleared for games?"

For whatever it's worth, Rony Turiaf wore one during games after he came back. In fact, in the last Lakers game I saw, it looked like he still had something black on under his uniform jersey, but I couldn't tell if it was a protective garment or just a t-shirt.

Posted by: kalorama | February 19, 2008 3:50 PM

C'mon guys, you know damn well that if Eddie is coach next year, I'll be starting at the 5...

HAHAHAH!

Posted by: Etan Thomas | February 19, 2008 3:57 PM

ima gilbert fan but look...I TOLD YALL WE SHOULD OF TRADED HIM FOR KOBE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! too late now

Posted by: i | February 19, 2008 4:03 PM

Lets wait and see how gil does before we crucify him. the man took us to the playoffs 3 years in a row, we owe him at least that much

Posted by: Burg w/ a U | February 19, 2008 4:17 PM

Like Kalorama mentioned, the biggest plus Etan can bring to the roster is allowing Jordan to give Blatche minutes at the 4 without worrying so much about him and Haywood both getting in foul trouble.

Sometimes having a veteran backup changes the way a coach will ride with a player. It doesn't always mean less minutes for the starter. It should be pretty clear that Haywood has claimed the starter role and Etan will be viewed as a backup this year.

I'd really be surprised if Etan's ready to go more then short bursts for quite awhile.
Sure, Etan's overpaid for what he is, but I don't think there's a team in the league that doesn't have one or two guys eating up cap space with a bad contract.

But for the guys that wanted to "retire" him and claim the allowable cap excemption, it's pretty hard to do that when the guy's doctor announced that he'd play again this year.

Looks like the Doctor knew what he was talking about, what remains to be seen is how well he can play. Etan is more of a center then Songaila, but frankly I'd rather not see either one of them in the 4th.

But it will be nice to see Eddie have more then 3 healthy bodies on the bench for a change.

Posted by: GM | February 19, 2008 4:21 PM

"Lets wait and see how gil does before we crucify him. the man took us to the playoffs 3 years in a row, we owe him at least that much

Posted by: Burg w/ a U | February 19, 2008 04:17 PM "

It gets funny when people start heaping all the credit on Gilby in how they only give him credit for getting Les BouleS into the playoffs. Ok, so what did Gilby do during the playoffs?

Posted by: DC Man88 | February 19, 2008 4:35 PM

I'd venture to say ET won't be making any contributions of significance to the team on the court until probably late next season..assuming he's still here.

Posted by: DC Man88 | February 19, 2008 4:36 PM

...the biggest plus Etan can bring to the roster is allowing Jordan to give Blatche minutes at the 4 without worrying so much about him and Haywood both getting in foul trouble."

Which, by extension, increases the likelihood of being able to rest Jamison some, since Jordan won't have to worry as much about how fouls or minutes Blatche plays at the 4 will affect his availability in the C rotation.

Posted by: kalorama | February 19, 2008 5:23 PM

Starting AB at the 4 makes sense. I've been making this point since last season. AJ has also been willing to come off the bench, as I think he was the 6th man of the year in Dallas.

Problem is that AJ, coming off this great numbers all star year, will want as much money as he can get. Anybody who thinks any NBA player will take less just to stay with a mediocre organization is being silly, and I'm using a very nice word to describe it.

Therefore, if anyone in Les BouleS organization decides that AJ should come off the bench for the betterment of the team, don't expect him to take less money for this. Better pay him market value regardless.

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