Saturday update

It looks as though the Wiz will play a fourth straight game without Caron Butler tomorrow when Kobe and the Lakes are at the VC for a rare noon tip. Butler did not practice today but did go through some shooting drills afterward. He didn't say that he was in our out, only said that he's feeling better today than yesterday and will have to see how it is tomorrow.

Coach Eddie Jordan sounded like a guy who wants Butler to miss at least one more. "He didn't do anything that was high impact and physical. He didn't get into a four or five or six minute scrimmage and that's why I'm very hesitant. I have not seen him get contact and I haven't seen him change direction in competition. As a coach, you always like to see a guy get through practice."

If Butler can't go, Andray will make his fourth straight start and man, has he played well. In 41 games as a reserve, Andray was putting up 5.9 points (45.1 percent shooting), 4.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 17.6 minutes. In four games as a starter, he's averaging 15.5 points (in 35.3 minutes), 10.3 rebounds and 3.2 blocks.

Andray: "I think that when I know I'm going to be a starter, I focus better and just come out with more energy. It's like I know that I have to come in and play well to help the team and that's what I'm trying to do whether it's rebounding, blocking a shot or scoring."

I caught the Lakers practice this afternoon at the club where I play ball (Kobe and the boys didn't want any of us) and Pau Gasol was not on hand. Coach Phil Jackson said that Gasol was flying from LA to DC tonight and will be here tomorrow but Jackson didn't say whether Gasol would be available to play.

My question of the day: who got the bigger steal? The Lakers getting Gasol for Kwame Brown, two late first round picks and a guy who doesn't play? Or, the Mets getting Santana from my Twins for three "prospects" (love that word) I've never heard of? I'm surprised that the Twins didn't throw Adrian Peterson into the deal just for the fun of it. Man. Anyway, the Lakers suddenly are championship contenders as long as Andrew Bynum comes back from that knee injury.

By Ivan Carter |  February 2, 2008; 6:19 PM ET
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Twins for now...They won't have to worry about chemistry issues at the beginning. If Gasol comes in and clicks right away however, Lakers become a championship contender

Posted by: MDBaller1 | February 2, 2008 6:51 PM

Andray needs to get better with his conditioning. He can't handle playing forty minutes per night yet. But Eddie left him in there because the alternatives were not very attractive. His activity trailed off and his turnovers went up during the 2nd half against Utah because he was tired. It was easy to notice it and Hubie Brown made mention of it repeatedly. He still had a nice game with 19 pts/13 boards. His production usually goes up when he is in the starting lineup.

Posted by: low | February 2, 2008 9:25 PM

"I'm surprised that the Twins didn't throw Adrian Peterson into the deal just for the fun of it."

Don't worry Ivan, that trade is coming soon enough. ;)

No Caron = No win

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | February 2, 2008 11:22 PM

Tall Lakers with Gasol will need a tall Wizards team (Haywood, Blatche, Pecherov, Mcguire) to counter. Message to EJ: Songaila can't jump. And uh yes please Nick Young earlier in the game. Not just when all is lost garbage time.

Posted by: rgz | February 3, 2008 12:14 AM

Better to rest CB now and have him healthy for the final push in March/April.

As far as Andray, he is doing a good job as a starter. But, he is young and needs to understand he is not a guard out there with all the spin moves when driving. When he starts spinning, he gets caught in "no man's land" and ends up with turnovers. He also jacks up some long a## shots when they aren't needed. They want him to use his speed, quickness and ball handling(for a big man) to take it to the hole, with authority.

Can't wait to see Kobe tomorrow. Once a year when he visits, he always puts on a good show. Like him or not, he is the best player in the NBA right now.

Posted by: Section101 | February 3, 2008 12:24 AM


The Mets got the bigger steal.

True Hoop had an interesting post here.
http://myespn.go.com/blogs/truehoop/0-30-6/The-Memphis-Side-of-the-Story.html

A fair case is made for Memphis....now, I'm not saying that the Lakers didn't get one over on the Griz. But it was clear that Gasol was not working out in Memphis. Yea, Gasol was an asset, but getting rid of him was clearly the right thing to do.

Of course, we don't know what else was seriously on the table from other teams.

With a salary cap in the NBA, as opposed to MLB, and the young pieces such as Rudy Gay and Mike Conley, I think Memphis is on a faster track to rebuilding than the Twins. Besides, there's probably a reason you've never heard of those "prospects".

Posted by: TruthAboutIt.net | February 3, 2008 1:33 AM

I'm still not convinced all that cap space is going to do Memphis much good in the short term. It's a bad team with no history of real success, a coach with very little experience, and a front office that hasn't show much propensity for team building so far. They're going to have a very difficult time selling any FAs that matter on the idea of going there.

Posted by: kalorama | February 3, 2008 1:50 AM

I'm still not convinced all that cap space is going to do Memphis much good in the short term. It's a bad team with no history of real success, a coach with very little experience, and a front office that hasn't show much propensity for team building so far. They're going to have a very difficult time selling any FAs that matter on the idea of going there.

Posted by: kalorama | February 3, 2008 1:50 AM

Everytime Kwame gets traded, the receiving team gets a steal. First it was Caron Butler, now Pau Gasol. It'll be interesting to see which was the bigger steal. My money's on Tough Juice.

Posted by: satch | February 3, 2008 1:57 AM

Whoops - to clarify: "..the sending team gets a steal in return for Kwame". Wouldn't want to give the impression that Kwame is a steal.

Posted by: satch | February 3, 2008 2:00 AM

Hubie Brown said the Wiz have the worst bench in the league. He didn't say based on gross points or net points, but his point registered.

Even if the Big 3 are healthy, the Wiz will go nowhere in the playoffs without decent bench play. In some cases such as D.Song and McGuire there are limitations that will not be resolved this year. In other cases such as NY and AB there is potential. There is only one way to develop potential.

Separately, there are several NBA reports that show a direct correlation between the number of injuries and minutes played. Are the current injuries to Arenas and Butler attributate to a curse? At the current utilization ratios, I wonder who "the curse" will strike next? Hint: probably not Haywood and Stevenson.

Finally, if the Wiz miss the playoffs because the Big 3 play 35 minutes a game when suited, then the bench is so bad that they would have lost the first round anyway if the Big 3 played 40 minutes a game and the Wiz made the playoffs. (BTW, even Jeter and Rodriguez occasionally take a day or two off during the season, and that's truly a non-contact sport).

The Wizards have all of the assets on this roster to be a serious contender. I guess we'll find out how well those assets will have been managed at the end of the season. But injuries and bench play are part of the game. (Sorry for pursuing this matter, Ivan. That's it for me on this topic).

Posted by: Izman | February 3, 2008 9:04 AM

Got to agree with section 101, Blatch needs to concentrate on going to the hole strong. AK47 got him twice trying to dunk one handed when he should have gone up with two.

The kid has improved his footwork greatly in recent weeks, but he does need to get making a Sports Center Highlight play out of his mind and just play solid ball.

Eddie may want to consider thinking the way Red coached the Celtics, have the team's second best player come off the bench. If he's able to get consistant production from Blatche in the starting lineup Jamison could become a sixth man and jump start the Wizards' bench.

That might be a way to get a consistant boost from the bench that the Wiz have been lacking. AJ could be the first guy off the bench for 4 out of five starters. If he came in for Haywood, Blatche could slide to center. For Blatche he could stay at the 4 or he could come in for Stevenson and slide Butler to the two and go big. Or sometimes play small forward for Butler.

Red mostly brought his 6th man in at the first stoppage in play and made his move based on the tempo and style of play. And he was always dictating matchups to the other team and forcing them to respond.

It's something to think about since the Wizards young bench is so up and down in it's production. Maybe Eddie needs to get Blatche, Young, Pecherov, and McGuire more run time one at a time with the starters.

Using Jamison as the Celtics deployed their 6th man for years could be a way to start different youngsters in games that gave them a favorable matchup.

In this age of superstar egos the use of a sixth man in the way Red designed it has fallen by the wayside. Guys are too worried about Allstar status and their next contract to embrace the role.

Jamison might be the one guy that is leader enough to make it his and be an Allstar off the bench. For Eddie to make it work I'd think that Grunfeld would have to weigh in and let AJ know that the Wizards are commited to him in the longterm.

It's just a thought...But it could work.

Posted by: GM | February 3, 2008 11:01 AM

"In other cases such as NY and AB there is potential. There is only one way to develop potential."

Yes, and that way is for the players with potential to identify their weakness and work hard in practice and the offseason at eliminating them. And once it starts to become clear that the improvement is talking place they can earn a shot at more PT in meaningful situations.

Throwing guys onto the floor for long stretches when they're not ready to handle the responsibility is not "development." It's setting players up to fail and putting the team as a whole at a competitive disadvantage.

Young has a lot of potential, but he's a couple of years away from fulfilling it (if he ever does, which is hardly a given). Throwing him out there and hoping for the best hasn't exactly worked in the limited minutes he played so far. There's really no logical reason to assume that if you play him twice as much that he'll play twice as well. That's not how it works.

Posted by: kalorama | February 3, 2008 1:46 PM

Ehh, it's hard to argue that these young guns assumed responsibility for being professionals because they opted in early and took the money. But, when you add reality into the equation, you're talking about a bunch of guys in their early 20's who can't really change or learn how to be a professional in a short time. These kids see the game as a game, not as a job.

Posted by: DC Man88 | February 3, 2008 5:25 PM

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