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Monday update

The Wizards did not practice today and will fly to Portland this afternoon for tomorrow night's game against the Blazers. The contest opens a five-game trip that includes stops at Seattle, Sacramento, LA for the Lakers and concludes in Salt Lake City next Monday night. Can't speak for the players but the idea of such a long trip this late in the season is exhausting to me. But, on we roll......

Gilbert Arenas will make the trip but I wouldn't look for him to play at any point before the April 2 home game against Milwaukee. He's scheduled to have the knee re-evaluated at some point "next week."

He desperately wanted to play against the Pistons last night but the doctor who performed his Nov. 21 surgery didn't clear him. The window for Arenas coming back, getting his legs and establishing any kind of flow before the playoffs is closing rapidly. Clearly, the medical staff is taking a cautious approach and considering that the guy had two surgeries on the same knee in an 8-month span, that's a good thing. I'll be writing an in-depth story on the Arenas situation for Tuesday's paper.

Meanwhile, the Wizards (36-33) have won six of their last seven and are suddenly sneaking up on fourth-place Cleveland for home court in a potential first-round playoff series. The Cavs currently hold a three-game lead over the Wiz, who lead Philly and Toronto by a game and a half. Philly faces a potential loss at Boston tonight and Cleveland hosts New Orleans on Wednesday night.

Needless to say, this trip is huge.

Interesting stat concerning the Wizards and Pistons: Since Flip Saunders took over as Detroit coach at the start of the 2005-2006 season, Eddie Jordan's Wizards are 6-3 against the Pistons. That got me thinking about what an Eastern Conference scout told me last week when I asked him for his take on potential first round matchups.
"I know Detroit wouldn't mind missing the Wizards," the scout said. "Jordan kills them. Bad matchups."

By Ivan Carter  |  March 24, 2008; 12:43 PM ET
 
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Comments

Thanks for the update, Ivan. Was at the game last night, then caught NBA Fast Break on ESPN2. Wow! Jalen Rose and Stephen A. Smith could only talk about how poorly the Pistons played -- "mailed it in," "embarrassing play, " "going through the motions," etc. not one word of praise for the Wizards -- not one!!!

Check out this quote from the NY Daily News. First time I have seen Ernie's name linked to the Knicks:
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
Candidates to replace Isiah
Posted: Monday March 24, 2008 05:22AM ET

With Donnie Walsh out of the picture, James Dolan has plenty of names to choose from. Jerry West, who according to sources has not been contacted by the Knicks, remains a strong possibility. Jerry Colangelo wants the job and Nets assistant GM Kiki Vandeweghe is also in the mix. Dolan may even take a look at Nets president Rod Thorn and Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld. Former Knicks Greg Anthony and Mark Jackson are possibilities, as is former Sixers GM Billy King, a Walsh disciple.

Ivan, do you think EG would entertain leaving the Wizards?

Posted by: Rockville | March 24, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

With a few games for Gil to get his legs, the Wiz can beat anybody in the East.

It's interesting that one can make a case that they can end up anywhere from .500 in the regular season and go one and out in the playoffs(sound familiar), or they can go all the way to the NBA Finals.

Will they be ready to rule? Let's hope we play against the scout's team in the Finals.

Posted by: Izman | March 24, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

After looking at the standings this morning I was wondering how long it would be before we started talking about overtaking Cleveland for home court.
Ivan's right; this west coast trip is huge. I expect we'll go 2-3, but I'd consider it a success to come away 3-2.

With that said, Cleveland seems to have a fairly soft remaining schedule so I think overtaking them is unlikely.

Posted by: wisc ave | March 24, 2008 1:32 PM | Report abuse

At least Hubie Brown had alot of positives to say about Wizards last night during ESPN's broadcast. The Wiz are sneaking up on Cleveland, this road trip will be key to any chance of catching them. It sure would be nice to get home court, but that's still a longshot.

Better to take the conservative approach with Gil's knee. Any word on Etan? I noticed he was on the bench last night in street clothes, is he going to travel with the team this time out?

Posted by: GM | March 24, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the update Ivan.

....good questions by Rockville too that I'd definitely like to see answered.

My prediction: Wizards go 3-2 in the next 5.

Last night's game was a combo of great Wizard ball movement.....but the Pistons looked very uninterested on defense. There were a lot of passing lanes open.

Posted by: TruthAboutIt.net | March 24, 2008 1:42 PM | Report abuse

GM, I feel the same way as you do bout overtaking Cleveland and getting home court ad. I only wish the Wiz had taken care of the Pacers, Knicks and Bobcats (and other such teams) earlier on. Oh well, next time around they will know that every game counts.

Posted by: rgz | March 24, 2008 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Even that boob Hollinger says that we are the one team that can (based on previous games) give Boston and Detroit a hard time in the playoffs. They want no part of us even without GA. I'm thinking the Eastern Conference might collectively shart in their shorts if GA comes back resembling anything close to the player he's been for the past few years.

Posted by: mark | March 24, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Big trip. 3-2 would be very reasonable outcome... No reason for GA to come back against Portland, Seattle or Sacto... but if the Lakers game is on national TV, hmmmmm.

Posted by: khrabb | March 24, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Washington is on ESPN next Sunday night, but it'll be the Nats opening up the ball park against the Braves (not the Bullets at Lakers)....

Posted by: CN | March 24, 2008 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Wouldn't you think that the longer Gilbert is out, the more likely he'll have to come off the bench when he returns? If he returns in early April, that's too short a period of time to make him the starter -- too disruptive to the flow the first team now has and not enough time to iron things out. (Unless he has been running with the first team in practice and they can hit the ground running with Gilbert.)

Just bring him off the bench -- that will be a huge boost to the bench, and will cause problems for the opposing team.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 24, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Can anyone tell me where nick young has been? I didn't see him play in miami nor last night against the pistons. Is he hurt? In EJ's doghouse?

Posted by: M.E.G. | March 24, 2008 4:25 PM | Report abuse

M.E.G.,

Hurt. Right thigh bruise.

Posted by: Keithinator | March 24, 2008 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Re. the unpredictable team the top teams don't want to meet in the playoffs. Against the Western Conference, the Wiz whacked the Mavs and New Orleans twice. But lost to San Antonio and Houston twice. Lost to Utah and Lakers once so far.

If we can get past Cavs in the first round, there's a chance against Orlando. Then after the Celtics and Pistons kill each other in the second round, we will have something of a chance against either for the conference title. But probably lose if we got to the finals against Lakers, Spurs or Rockets. Even chances against Dallas or New Orleans. How's that for hoping?

Posted by: rgz | March 24, 2008 5:11 PM | Report abuse

rgz, that goes waaaay beyond hoping, well into fevered dreaming territory.

Posted by: kalorama | March 24, 2008 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Why would the Celtics and Pistons play each other in the second round? They are 1 and 2.

The Wizards would likely face Cleveland, then Boston, then Detroit.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 24, 2008 5:21 PM | Report abuse

I don't think Boston or Detroit want's to see us.

Posted by: Janitor | March 24, 2008 5:48 PM | Report abuse

can we have another post of Michael Lee making fun of speech impediments?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 24, 2008 7:04 PM | Report abuse

that kalaroma rgz interchange: hilarious. Someone has commented before, but the peaks and valleys for the home town fans on this comment site are even more extreme than for the team.

But, hey, we love our home team. and we wish them the best. It's funny how when real life drama happens, coaches and players always say, "It puts things in perspective. We're only playing a game after all." Yet it means so much....

Posted by: duk | March 24, 2008 9:51 PM | Report abuse

I love to watch GA, but I hope he stays out all year. No need to mess that knee up again. I know he wants to play, but keep his butt out. Don't clear him for this year at all. Let him rehab and get it stronger for next year.

Posted by: Section101 | March 24, 2008 10:13 PM | Report abuse

"I love to watch GA, but I hope he stays out all year. No need to mess that knee up again. I know he wants to play, but keep his butt out. Don't clear him for this year at all. Let him rehab and get it stronger for next year.

Posted by: Section101 | March 24, 2008 10:13 PM "

Amen. Les BouleS don't need him now.

Posted by: DC Man88 | March 24, 2008 10:56 PM | Report abuse

y'all heard it first here:

wiz get 7th seed and get stomped on by the pistons in the first round. sike it will probably go 6, but point is 7 seed is most realistic.

check the schedule for the sixers and the raptors and then compare that to the wiz. 5 games (out west) in the next 7 days. chalk up 2 in the L column on the back end of that trip with utah (4 home losses this year) and lakers (playing hard for the 1 seed out west). then 2 more back to backs in april, the second of which is sandwiched in a 5 game finish that includes: vs boston wednesday, at detroit friday, home vs sixers saturday, vs indy monday and finally at magic wednesday. best case scenario is that boston, detroit and orlando are all locked into their seeds at that point.

good news is that they catch the blazers on the second night of a back to back tomorrow, then on the wiz's back to back they get a weak seattle squad. then get a night off before a tricky sac team.

so lets pencil in (pessimistically i admit, but not unrealistically) a 2-3 west coast trip plus a 4-4 finish to leave them at 42-40. will that be enough to keep the 5 seed?? and will AD, CB3 or antawn not miss any games the rest of the year??

tell me i'm wrong.

Posted by: oh hey | March 24, 2008 11:33 PM | Report abuse

Portland is the designated trap game on the schedule. If the Wiz don't go in focused and ready to play from the tip, the Blazers can take advantage of them.

Posted by: kalorama | March 24, 2008 11:34 PM | Report abuse

And Philadelphia is still rolling, how about that 17-0 run they put on Boston in the 4th quarter tonight at the Celtics' play. Forget the Wizards, the 76ers might be the team nobody wants to play in the East.

Posted by: George Templeton | March 25, 2008 12:18 AM | Report abuse

Roses are red, violets are blue, I love Arenas and want to drink his goo.

Posted by: Bullets70s | March 25, 2008 12:27 AM | Report abuse

Please Gilbert, pose in Playgirl!

Posted by: Bullets70s | March 25, 2008 12:30 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone know if Gilbert is straight? Is he possibly bi? I am just curious, because, like most of you, I really like him av lot.

Posted by: Bullets70s | March 25, 2008 12:43 AM | Report abuse

Although I'm a Wiz fan through and through, I'd like to take a contrarian view and submit a conspiracy theory: Is it possible we're seeing a formulated plan being carried out by the Wiz management? Could they be waiting to see where the team ends up in the playoff seeding without GA in order to determine whether to re sign him or trade him this summer? If this team can get into the playoffs and make some noise without him (which is entirely possible) would the Wiz be looking at unloading him in order to save 100 million?
Let me state unequivocally that I think the team is much better off with GA on the floor. However, a 'big 2' all star core of CB and AJ with solid complementary players in BTH, DS, AD and improving youngsters NY, AB, Pech and McGuire is as solid a team as you'll find in the league in terms of talent.
I'm not trying to drum up some anti Gilbert, 88-like sentiment but just wondering whether the Wiz doctors are holding him out for reasons that are not entirely health related. Even though it's been documented that some surgeries like Microfracture take a while to come back from 100%, at some point GA should be able to take the floor without the danger of further damage. He could be at that point now but the team might be holding him out for a couple of reasons. One reason is to assess the team's success without him. The other is to make him more attractive as trade bait. Without playing him now, he'd be more likely to completely recover with no possible setbacks. Realistically, if CB had not gotten hurt, we'd have a few more victories and might be in the third or fourth spot. That's not bad. I think the team with GA has us kissing the cup but maybe management would prefer to save some $$ for a 'solid' playoff shot rather than a 'relatively certain' playoff shot. I haven't looked to see whether a trade possibility is even doable (that's Rook's specialty) but I wouldn't put such a plan beyond team management. It IS a business, after all.

Posted by: mark | March 25, 2008 7:38 AM | Report abuse

Why would the Celtics and Pistons play each other in the second round? They are 1 and 2.

The Wizards would likely face Cleveland, then Boston, then Detroit.

Posted by: | March 24, 2008 05:21 PM

anon, I got confused. So for 2nd round, the winner of 1 vs. 8 plays which team? The winner of 2 vs. 7 or 3 vs 6 or 4 vs 5?

Posted by: rgz | March 25, 2008 7:45 AM | Report abuse

anon, I got confused. So for 2nd round, the winner of 1 vs. 8 plays which team? The winner of 2 vs. 7 or 3 vs 6 or 4 vs 5?

Posted by: rgz | March 25, 2008 07:45 AM


Reginald Gary Zimmerman, 1v8 winner plays 4v5 winner.

2v7 winner players 3v6 winner

Posted by: I make brackets, son | March 25, 2008 8:56 AM | Report abuse

anon, I got confused. So for 2nd round, the winner of 1 vs. 8 plays which team? The winner of 2 vs. 7 or 3 vs 6 or 4 vs 5?

Posted by: rgz | March 25, 2008 07:45 AM


Reginald Gary Zimmerman, 1v8 winner plays 4v5 winner.

2v7 winner plays 3v6 winner

Posted by: I make brackets, son | March 25, 2008 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Mark, you've really hit the nail on the head. Grunfeld has devised a vast, right-hand conspiracy to keep Gilbert out this season. Because even after last year's playoffs, when Gilbert didn't play, and after almost every game this season, Grunfeld still needs more time to evaluate how well the Wizards play without Gilbert.

First, he got the team doctors, who end up in that position because they are so well-respected, to lie to a patient. Next, he convinced Abe Pollin to forgo the money his team likely would make in extra playoffs games if Gilbert were playing and playing well. Then, he told Eddie Jordan about his plan, promising that if Eddie played along, he would trade Haywood to Milwaukee for Michael Ruffin.

(Actually, your own e-mail explains why Gilbert isn't back yet: "Without playing him now, he'd be more likely to completely recover with no possible setbacks.")

Posted by: Anonymous | March 25, 2008 9:30 AM | Report abuse

If this team can get into the playoffs and make some noise without him (which is entirely possible) would the Wiz be looking at unloading him in order to save 100 million?

Posted by: mark | March 25, 2008 07:38 AM

I'm not going to comment on your conspiracy theory, but I will comment on "unloading" Arenas.

Unless Ernie Grunfeld can get a top 10 player in return, I doubt Arenas will be going anywhere.

This Wizards team, as it's constructed right now and without Arenas, is only good enough to get to the Playoffs and perhaps win ONE round. This is NOT a Championship team.

To get to that level, the Team needs to be a much better defensive team. Say, top 5 in the League. Although they've made strides this year, they're still not a top defensive team.

They need a defensive stopper. (First or Second All-NBA Defensive team) Someone that can change the game from a Defensive standpoint. Stevenson may be that player... or perhaps Blatche. Certainly, when Haywood is playing well, and properly energized, he can be that player.

They also need a top-10 player - preferrably a top-5 caliber player (MVP candidate, First Team All-NBA). Someone that can dominate a game.

All the recent NBA Champions, with the single exception of the Detroit Pistons, have had these ingredients.

Caron is good, but he'll never drop 60 on the Lakers. AJ is amazing in his consistency, but he can't take over a game by himself. A healthy Arenas, assuming he continues to develop, MIGHT be the player that can take the Wizards to the next level.

By the way, that's why I'm picking the Lakers to be NBA Champions this year - they have ALL the ingredients.

Posted by: Rook | March 25, 2008 10:21 AM | Report abuse

I like everything you said, Rook, except that last sentence (shudders).

Posted by: Anonymous | March 25, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

You guys are off your rockers. Do you know how big the local backlash would be against the Wizards if they let Arenas go? It would be pretty damn big. We would need a legit superstar in his place to make up for it.

Keeping Gilbert out on purpose would be absolutely ridiculous.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 25, 2008 10:41 AM | Report abuse

I'd agree with Rook, no way Gil walks unless a top line player is in the cards in return.

It's been gone over here repeatedly, allowing Gil to walk doesn't create enough CAP room to sign anything over the MLE. A sign and trade seems to be Gil's only ticket out of town. For that to happen I'd think the Wiz would want Gil on the court before the season's out.

But Gil at way less then 100% isn't going to attract many suitors, so it's best for Gil and the Wiz for him to take the time to be right when he gets on the court.

The way the team has played recently takes alot of pressure off of pushing him to get back. Butler seems to be finding his Allstar level game again after struggling to get in the flow for a few games.

As long as Gil's been out he may take some time to get in a groove with the team, he may help the most by becoming a scoring option off the bench for awhile til he can gat in a rythem with the starters.

Posted by: GM | March 25, 2008 10:55 AM | Report abuse

"You guys are off your rockers. Do you know how big the local backlash would be against the Wizards if they let Arenas go? It would be pretty damn big. We would need a legit superstar in his place to make up for it.

Keeping Gilbert out on purpose would be absolutely ridiculous.

Posted by: | March 25, 2008 10:41 AM "

I doubt it.

Posted by: DC Man88 | March 25, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

"You guys are off your rockers. Do you know how big the local backlash would be against the Wizards if they let Arenas go? It would be pretty damn big. We would need a legit superstar in his place to make up for it.

Posted by: | March 25, 2008 10:41 AM "

I doubt it.

Posted by: DC Man88 | March 25, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

LOL!

It's the same technique Les BouleS used last year with AB. EJ held him out for most of the last few weeks of the season, if not month, b/c everyone knew AB was going to get PAID in the offseason if he got to show his skills.

Now, with Gilby, EG probably wants to limit Gilby's chances to go to another team, while using Gilby's lack of activity against him. The Skins let Bubba Tyer talk about player injuries, but Les BouleS firmly prevent their doctors from speaking to the press. Now Gilby doesn't have enough games to get his "swagger" back.

Too funny!

Posted by: DC Man88 | March 25, 2008 2:29 PM | Report abuse

It's the same technique Les BouleS used last year with AB. EJ held him out for most of the last few weeks of the season, if not month, b/c everyone knew AB was going to get PAID in the offseason if he got to show his skills.

Posted by: DC Man88 | March 25, 2008 02:29 PM

[puff, puff]
Yeah- you're right 88... Never thought of it that way. The Wizards hold out Arenas...so they don't have to pay him... Make the Doctors lie to him. The Coach has to be in on it too, along with the GM. The idea had to come from that cheap owner Abe Polin.

[toke, toke - cough cough]
Good idea, hold him out, instead of playing him to get in sync for the Playoffs - where, they could possibly go to the second round, or even the Conference round (with all those extra home dates)... It makes perfect economic sense.

[hey, where'd all my reefer go?]

Posted by: Anonymous | March 25, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Yes, as I said before, Les BouleS do not need Gilby right now. They are winning games, playing loose, have good chemistry, and have shown that they CAN beat the top teams in the East without Gilby. Such teams include Boston, Detroit, and Orlando.

Les BouleS are playing a new style of ball on both ends. If Gilby returns, it'll be like Shaq crashing the party in Phoenix, or JKidd crashing the party in Dallas. Just don't need that nonsense right now.

Les BouleS should be able to exploit the mediocre East well into the 2nd round of the playoffs without Gilby.

Wouldn't that be a huge statement and a great headline, if Les BouleS do better in the playoffs without Gilby rather than with?

"LES BOULES GO DEEP INTO THE PLAYOFFS WITHOUT GILBY AND ENJOY THE MOST SUCCESS SINCE GILBY HAS BEEN OUT"

To keep Gilby's name in the papers so that he won't throw a diva tantrum, maybe Robin Givhan (Pulitzer winning style writer) should do the post game analysis on Gilby's outfits/ensembles so that Gilby won't feel left out.

Posted by: DC Man88 | March 25, 2008 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Washington DC... BIRTHPLACE OF CONSPIRACY THEORIES...

Posted by: khrabb | March 25, 2008 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Mark for throwing that bone to a hungry dog. Now we can all watch him chase his tail for awhile.

Posted by: GM | March 25, 2008 5:51 PM | Report abuse

That was my skull! I'm so wasted!

Posted by: Jeff Spicoli | March 25, 2008 6:13 PM | Report abuse

People on 'ludes should not post.

Posted by: Jeff Spicoli | March 25, 2008 6:16 PM | Report abuse

"Thanks Mark for throwing that bone to a hungry dog. Now we can all watch him chase his tail for awhile.

Posted by: GM | March 25, 2008 05:51 PM "

Are you calling out your boy Lefty as a hungry dog chasing nasty tail in that barn again? Betcha still wondering why the mrs. came home with all that straw on her dress and smelling like a barn.

Posted by: DC Man88 | March 25, 2008 8:53 PM | Report abuse

DC Fairy88, aka DC Man88, is posting again, pretending to be Bullets70s.

Posted by: DC Man88 | March 30, 2008 2:37 AM | Report abuse

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