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Songaila expected to be ready for camp

Wizards forward Darius Songaila was unable to play with Lithuania in the Olympic basketball tournament after tweaking his back while training with the team before it departed for Beijing.

The good news for the Wizards is the injury is not serious and the veteran is expected to be fine when camp opens late next month, according to both Ernie Grunfeld and Songaila's agent Mark Bartelstein.

We all remember of course, that Songaila missed camp, the preseason and the first 45 games of the 2006-2007 season after requiring surgery to repair a herniated disk in his lower back. He suffered that injury while trying to play through back pain during in the world championships. Problem was, the Wizards gave the guy a five-year, $23 million deal that summer and then effectively lost him for the season.

I covered Songaila as a beat writer for three years now and don't know a ton about him but I do know that he loves playing for his country. He's been on the national team since 1998 and was planning on making these games his last appearance so you know the injury really hurts.

Then again, he has $23 million reasons to be healthy for the Wizards and avoiding another serious back problem is the right thing to do.

By Ivan Carter  |  August 20, 2008; 4:36 PM ET
 
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Comments

4 words.

18 million dollar buyout.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 20, 2008 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Good to hear that the back is not serious.

It may have been tough for Songaila to sit out the Olympics, knowing how much he loves playing for the Lithuanian national team...... but it may have been the best thing that could have happened for the Wizards...

Not playing in the Olympics should mean he'll have had plenty of time to rest the back and he should have fresh legs to start the season.

Posted by: Rook | August 20, 2008 6:09 PM | Report abuse

No disrespect, but I wouldn't have minded him being out for a while and see his minutes go to AB. One-less small-ball player in EJ's rotation is actually a good thing.

Posted by: Charlie | August 20, 2008 7:27 PM | Report abuse

"Then again, he has $23 million reasons to be healthy for the Wizards and avoiding another serious back problem is the right thing to do."

Ummm, Ivan...his contract is guaranteed...he'll get paid whether he's healthy or not.

Posted by: DC Man88 | August 20, 2008 10:35 PM | Report abuse

Songaila is only a "small-ball player" when he plays C, as is Blatche when he plays the 5. Songaila's size is fine for PF.

Posted by: kalorama | August 20, 2008 11:50 PM | Report abuse

I beg to differ. Songaila is a little undersized (height-wise)even for a PF. He's strong, yes. But he regularly gives up rebounds because he can't compete physically with taller PF's. I think he has the height of a SF, the shooting range and strength of a PF and the speed of a C.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 21, 2008 7:51 AM | Report abuse

(continuing the conversation from the last thread)
------------------------------------------
"Teams built around jumpshooting bigs don't win titles. And that's the whole point, right?" --Posted by: kalorama

"Kevin Garnett would disagree." --Posted by: Pradamaster
...

Right, and so would Rasheed Wallace:

Garnett '08: 73% jumpshots
http://www.82games.com/0708/07BOS11A.HTM

RWallace '04: 77% jumpshots
http://www.82games.com/03DET11A.HTM

Making the point even more plain, (SF) Paul Pierce and (PG) Rondo took fewer jumpers per attempt than KG (70% and 54% respectively).

And even Rip Hamilton and Billups scored inside on more of their shots than Rasheed did in '04.

Comparing with the Wiz, the last time the Allstar Three were healthy (06/07) about 30% of Gil's total shot production was scored inside. And 41% of Caron's total shot pts were scored in the paint. And that's irrespective of FT totals.

Remember, that incandescent December run-- before Jamison's injury-- was when the team was scoring with unparalleled efficiency.

The primary difference here is that nobody would argue Jamison is any kind of defender like 7' KG and 6' 11" Rasheed.

Which is why the Wiz hope to draft or grow a Big skilled finesse-playing defender of their own.

Opec may not be the guy. Blatche may not. JvMcGee may not. But one of 'em should pan out given hard work, chemistry, and training by the player development specialists. (Hoops Hopla and Ed Tapscott, specifically).

Or that's the operating theory anyway.

Yes defense wins championships. Yes Size wins championships, or makes defense easier. But all you're looking for offensively is easy shots, sometimes that's a lowpost presence, sometimes it's an outside-in attack.

Key is to do preserve what you do well, and shore up your shortfalls at the same time. Ernie is right to think if we add size and (hopefully) defense while preserving the spacing and offensive flow, we'll be golden. Trouble is it's tough to even match Jamison's 20/10 production and ranged shooting, much less bump him to a 6th man role with a bigger badder player.

Jumpshooting fierce defending Bigs are a rare breed. An allstar breed. Maybe if you raise'em all in the same kennel and pit 'em against each other you'll get one worth the effort.

Posted by: doclinkin | August 21, 2008 8:14 AM | Report abuse

At least EG is doing his best to combat the scourge of smallball. In total team height now we've got to have the tallest team in the league:

http://kevinbroom.wordpress.com/2008/02/27/which-is-the-nbas-tallest-team/

The addition of JVMCG can't hurt the tally. Now if we could only play them all at the same time:

PG: Bulletproof
SG: Buckets, Son
SF: JVMcG
PF: Antawn Jamison of course...
C: Big 'Wood


But yeah, apologies to Phil Hubbard, it would be nice to have a HOF-calibre Big Man specialist coach.

Hmmn maybe Songaila could recruit fellow Lithuanian Arvydas Sabonis as a highpost Bigman guru. Or Bill Walton. That would be just tremendous. The greatest ever. Never in the annals of history would there be a team that so needed what Bill Walton could give, and a man so able to give it as Bill Walton. The man. The legend. Absolute genius. It cannot be questioned.

/Walton.

Posted by: -doc again | August 21, 2008 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Wasn't David Robinson a jump shooting big also?

-----------------------------------------

"Robinson's game was at its best in the open court. He ran the floor like no 7-footer before as he could grab a defensive board to ignite a fast break and finish with an authoritative slam. And in the half-court offense, he had a soft left-handed jumper. Already recognized as one of the league's better players, the best was yet to come in 1993-94 and beyond."

http://www.nba.com/history/players/robinson_bio.html

Posted by: DC Man88 | August 21, 2008 8:34 AM | Report abuse

The Dream also had a pretty nice shot he could uncork at will. But both Hakeem and the Admiral went to the basket more often than KG and Sheed. At least in my memory they did, have no idea about the stats on that one.

Actually re-reading TheSecretKevin's blog, maybe we _should_ just dump all these young Bigs for experienced old guys. Maybe John McCain will be available after November. He's all kinds of old.

Posted by: doclinkin | August 21, 2008 8:43 AM | Report abuse

If he comes near me, I'm gonna cut that back up!

Posted by: Prison Balls | August 21, 2008 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Yeah i wish he was hurt. Not one other GM in the league would have given Darius Songalia a 5 year 23 Million dollar contract. EG is the biggest joke of a GM ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 21, 2008 9:15 AM | Report abuse

a healthy Songaila is worth 5 yrs/ $23 mil. that's a relativey modest salary for locking up a proven veteran reserve who come off the bench and produce.

Posted by: G$ | August 21, 2008 9:51 AM | Report abuse

One thing Songaila can do is stay with LeTravel on the baseline and keep him from doing his sidestep and quick layup. He's not afraid to lock arms with Letravel remember? (maybe next time he'll actually clock LeTravel in the jaw? j/k) That is assuming he is fresh off the bench and not fatigued.
The other thing he does well which Jamison can not be accused of, is pass the ball to set up teammates.

Posted by: rgz | August 21, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

doc, are you still banging this busted drum? Let it go, already.

There's a difference between a jumpshooting big man and a big man who can hit jumpshots. Both Wallace and Garnett are outstanding post players who can also hit jumpers. An argument can maybe be made that they don't spend enough time deep in the box, but when they do, they can both dominate down there. And as a Detroit native and long time Pistons fan, I can say that anyone who's followed the team during the "Wallace era" will tell you that one of the reasons the Pistons won in '04 was because Wallace made himself a presence inside in the playoffs, and one of the reasons they never won again was that he became too comfortable drifting outside.

Your boy Pecherov couldn't find his way into the post with a Google map and a GPS device attached to the rim. And even if he did, he wouldn't know what to do down there.

Posted by: kalorama | August 21, 2008 11:20 AM | Report abuse

And, I'll just reiterate:

35% FG shooting and 28% 3 pt shooting. And, pretty much, nothing else worth mentioning (other than seemingly recurring and constant injury).

Posted by: kalorama | August 21, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

And, just to recap:

So far now people have made comparisons (direct and indirect) between Pecherov and:

Nowitzki, Ilgauskas, Wallace, Garnett, and Robinson.

Incredible.

Posted by: kalorama | August 21, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

"But all you're looking for offensively is easy shots, sometimes that's a lowpost presence, sometimes it's an outside-in attack."

Wrong. At some point during any NBA game where one team is doing nothing but hoisting jumpshots you'll hear one of the analysts point out that starting the offense from the inside and working out produces easier shots than trying to initiate the offense from the perimeter. It's a simple, undeniable fact of bball.

Posted by: kalorama | August 21, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

If anyone thinks Songalia is worth 5/23 mil they know absolutely nothing about the NBA. The man sucks and would barely get more than the veteran minimum from any good GM.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 21, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

RGZ and all the other Lebron haters...LET IT GO. He is the best player in the world. We will never beat him. Quit with all the hate and the bitterness. He by himself is better than the entire wizards roster just let it go.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 21, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Hmmn.

Since I'm apparently champion of the halt and the lame (ie. longtime Wizfan) I'll do my job:

"And, I'll just reiterate:

35% FG shooting and 28% 3 pt shooting. And, pretty much, nothing else worth mentioning" -- kalo.

And Andray Blatche shot 38% FG and 23% 3FG, his first year with the Wiz in an equivalent sample size (29 games to Pech's 35). And same rebound rate too: about 7 per 36 minutes of play.

You contend the Wiz should have given up Andray too?

I'd just suggest to any fan not to be too quick to appoint themselves grand poobah of all armchair scouts and assume you know better than the people trying to put together the team.

It's fine to question, but if they're showing you a trend you don't understand (big man shooters) ask yourself the question what it is you may be missing that they been seeing.

Unless you doubt the ability of a crew that turned perennial losers into a playoff team 4 years running.

(A record in the East matched only by that team from the Midwest capital of carjackers, sweet music, and the birthplace of disgruntled displaced ball fans).

This ain't your 80's basketball anymore. Teams win even when built around perimeter players.

Yes you got to find the right pieces to supplement, and build a solid defense (and that's where your frontcourt argument may have merit) but if you check the top scorers and MVP's in the past half-decade of champions, you're not looking at unstoppable low-post forces.

Just facts there.

...
Hell, I'll beat a bucket of joint compound if that's all I got. Don't mean you can't shake yourass to it.

Posted by: doclinkin | August 21, 2008 12:37 PM | Report abuse

"And Andray Blatche shot 38% FG and 23% 3FG, his first year with the Wiz in an equivalent sample size (29 games to Pech's 35). And same rebound rate too: about 7 per 36 minutes of play.

"You contend the Wiz should have given up Andray too?

First, I've never said anyything about "giving up" on Pecherov. What does that even mean? He's got a guaranteed contract and no trade value, so they couldn't just "give up on him" even if they wanted to.

That said, what I do I contend is that, much like all of your other comparison, that one has no relevance.

(A) Blatche is not primarily a long range shooter, so his 3 pt shooting percentage isn't a big deal. Pecherov is primarily a long range shooter, so his is.

(B) Blatche's combo of size, quickness, athleticism, and ballhandling gave him a solid foundation to build his game around, even if his shooting wasn't great. Pecherov clearly lacks such a foundation. His shooting was supposedly the strength of his game in Europe and was expected to be so here. If he doesn't do that well he (unlike Blatche) has little to nothing else to fall back on.

"This ain't your 80's basketball anymore. Teams win even when built around perimeter players."

Name one team that's one a title since the beginning of this decade that didn't have a big man who could score handily in the post and/or dominate on the glass.

"Yes you got to find the right pieces to supplement, and build a solid defense (and that's where your frontcourt argument may have merit) but if you check the top scorers and MVP's in the past half-decade of champions, you're not looking at unstoppable low-post forces."

Now you're just spouting nonsense (again). Five teams teams have won NBA titles since the beginning of this decade. All of them have had big men capable of being go-to scorers in the paint, four of them surefire first ballot HoFers.

Posted by: kalorama | August 21, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

EDIT:

Name one team that's won a title ...

Posted by: kalorama | August 21, 2008 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Dear Anonymous, you have your opinion and I have mine.
Letravel may be the most incredible basketball player with the most outrageous athletic abilities. To me, he is still a YOUNG player with immature bully-boy attitudes (once again displayed at the Olympics towards an Angolan player for goodness sakes), and a CRY-BABY demeanor when the refs are looking.
Hoorah for what he does at the Olympics with the team - good for him, good for us.
In the NBA, the objective of the Wizards is to beat ANY Lebron James led team unless you have forgotten that. They may or may not be able to achieve that 4 times in a row, but I do not have to apologize for still being a Wizards fan. Make of it what you like.
By the way if you don't understand the shortcut j/k stands for JUST KIDDING.

Posted by: rgz | August 21, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

"Five teams teams have won NBA titles since the beginning of this decade. All of them have had big men capable of being go-to scorers in the paint, four of them surefire first ballot HoFers."--kal'ram

Oh in that case you're right, we should have drafted a first ballot Hall of Fame Big instead of Pecherov -- I thought we were talking about reality here, my bad.

Pech's reputation as a Europlayer in Paris and the Ukraine Superleague was as a 7 foot shooter who hustled and scrapped for rebounds and had a little bit of a mean streak, was scared of nobody. He loved to dunk, and thought he had a bit of a face-up game with the ball in his hands.

Granted we've seen precious little of that here. But we've seen damn little of the kid so far at all. Seems way early to write him off as worthless is all. You know: 'written off', as in 'given up on', ie. 'prematurely assessed as worthless'. Seems a bit quick to judge, eg.:

"he'll most likely never get to play..." [etc. etc.]

As for Blatche, you may not think he's an outside shooter, but he did. His face-up game was his pride coming in to the league. One in every 10 shots he took that year was a threeball. For comparison's sake, that's equivalent to say, a Dirk Nowitzki.

In sum: clearly the front office doesn't agree that outside shooting from back-up Bigs is not 'the last thing we need'. Seems like sorta a priority apparently. And statistics back-up the sense of it.

If Pech improves to fill the role, well good. Evidence taken from the sample size of an injured rookie year is a pretty weak basis to project an entire career on.

Posted by: doclinkin | August 21, 2008 3:57 PM | Report abuse

"Five teams teams have won NBA titles since the beginning of this decade. All of them have had big men capable of being go-to scorers in the paint, four of them surefire first ballot HoFers." -- kalo.

Oh well clearly we should have drafted a surefire Hall of Fame Big then. My bad, I thought we were dealing with reality here.

The Pech in Paris and Ukraine Superleague wasn't just a finesse jumpshooter from Eurothree distance, he was a hustling rebounder with a little bit of a mean streak, not scared of anybody. Had a bit of a face-up game (he thought) and loved to dunk the ball.

Granted we ain't seen much of that player here, but we ain't seen much of him at all.

That's the point, seems a bit quick to write him of as worthless. You know 'give up on him', prematurely assess as worthless, or state: "he'll most likely never get to play.." [among other statements].

On Blatche, you might not think of him as a jumpshooter, but he clearly did. That was his pride coming in: his face-up game and outside shooting for his size. One out of every ten shots he took that year was a threeball, that's equivalent to say Dirk Nowitzki.

In sum:

35 injured games: too quick to judge a player.

A face-up back-up for Jamison isn't 'the last thing we need' in fact it seems to be a priority of the front office, and stats suggest there's a good reason for it. It makes our best players better at what they do well.

Seems pretty sensible to me.

Posted by: doclinkin | August 21, 2008 4:15 PM | Report abuse

back when Ernie sign DSong, the FAs werent exactly lining up at the Wizard's front door. DSong was an early building block, sort of best available and willing at the price we could afford. Now DSong will continue to slip further back in the rotation each year as the young bucks continue to improve (at least that is the theory, who knows what axe EJ has to grind and what he will really do). DSong will become that reliable veteran on the bench who normally doesnt play, but if needed in an emergency can come off the bench cold and hold his own for a while.

Posted by: oddjob | August 21, 2008 4:45 PM | Report abuse

"Nowitzki, Ilgauskas, Wallace, Garnett, and Robinson.

Incredible.

Posted by: kalorama | August 21, 2008 11:23 AM "

Sorry, but you're wrong.

I didn't compare OPech to David Robinson.

I only refuted the point that a jumping shooting big man can't lead a team to victory, and David Robinson is clearly the best example of one that did.

What a pathetic backtracking technique.

Posted by: DC Man88 | August 21, 2008 5:16 PM | Report abuse

"Oh well clearly we should have drafted a surefire Hall of Fame Big then. My bad, I thought we were dealing with reality here."

Yawn.

We are, and the reality is (your weak, obvious, and wholly predictable attempt at a dodge notwihtstanding) is that you said teams in the NBA these days don't need inside presence and can win without it. Every bit of factual evidence from this decade (and everyone preceding it) says you are wrong. Every team that's won a title in recent memory (other than Jordan's Bulls) has had an inside game. So the idea that drafting a slow-footed, nonathletic 7 footer who shoots below 30% makes the Wizards a better contender is, of course, utter nonsense.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 21, 2008 5:26 PM | Report abuse

That last one was mine.

"I only refuted the point that a jumping shooting big man can't lead a team to victory, and David Robinson is clearly the best example of one that did."

Aside from the fact that anyone who actually watched him play knows that Robinson was not by any reasonable (or even unreasonable) definition strictly a jumpshooter, there's also the little fact that he didn't actually win a title until he was paired with Tim Duncan, who was the leading scorer and MVP on both of the title teams the Spurs won when Robinson was on board. So, anyway you look at it, your argument is, as usual, wrong.

Posted by: kalorama | August 21, 2008 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Inside presence sure; predominant frontcourt offense, no.

Whatever your assertion that Rasheed was a dominant low-post scorer, 1 in 4 attempts he put up in the '04 playoffs was a three point try. And his playoff FG% was .413. He only put up ~2.5 Free throw attempts per game. Not dominant by any stretch. (And no real statistical difference from the player he is today).

Rip Hamilton making lay-ups was their dominant inside scorer.

(Rip took 438 shot attempts, only 39 of them were 3pt tries. By contrast, Rasheed took __70__ 3pt shots in the playoffs that year, out of only about 280 total FG tries...)

So in short, no.

But where that team had a dominant presence down low or otherwise was defensively. Scheme, chemistry, length, superior instincts, coaching, talent, all that.

No argument if you suggest we don't have those same raw materials, defensively.

Offensively though we can not only hang with that team, we blow them the hellout the water. The team's offense hasn't been the problem ...when healthy ...and when the starters are on the floor.

I just wonder why it is fans are always trying to fix the problems we don't have. When the team is healthy we have no issues with offense. Defense, yes. And Jamison is a liability there. Which is why it makes sense to try to add some size/defense to that position without too much drop off in the offense and radical alterations of a scheme that actually, you know, works pretty well.

...And that's where the tetherball comes back 'round again.

Posted by: doclinkin | August 21, 2008 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Fact is your earlier statement is more relevant, teams don't win the championship unless they have at least one #1 #1 quality overall draft pick. One or more sure-fire first ballot lock two-way HOF player.

The exceptions being the two teams we have a prayer of emulating: This year's Celts and the '04 Pistons.

With those models in mind: You can either stockpile hightalent picks and swap 'em all to trade up for a disgruntled superstar or two (provided you have a friendly GM on the other team who'd make a bad deal if it made his old team look good).

Or you can build around a solid scheme and try to make smart moves and sharp trades to supplement what your coaching staff does well. Then develop your talent from within.

But either way somehow you have to assemble a handful of top ten quality players as a core.

(Rip #7, Sheed #4, Chauncey #3 -- hell they could afford to burn a #2 pick even; Ray #5, KG #5, Pierce #10).

Can you do that drafting at 18 year after year? Odds are no. More than 50% of players drafted in the second half of the first round are out of the league in five years. That's pretty much the definition of hit and miss.

Which means that teams either tank and tank hard, or commit to trying to become really really good, if not champions. Keep your eye open for a chance to get lucky and steal a ring. That's the cold splash of reality there.

Via continual incremental improvement, chemistry, continuity, commitment (or whatever the new slogan is) the Wiz have a chance to be, well, really really good.

If we were able to get hot late into the playoffs and go on a run like we did with that unprecedentedly torrid December (or like we always seem to do in December) then hell sure why not-- we run the table just because somebody told Gilbert he can't. Never know. Improbable things happen all the time.

(Though they might have to switch back to the old 'new' ball...)

But the only way to do that is to somehow find fresh legs late in the season. Like a player suddenly regains their form recovering from an injury, or a young player or two or three starts to suddenly get it. Or young feisty bench depth preserves the legs of the veterans.

One note of concern though: Eddie's assistants are all on one-year extensions again I think.

Seems to me one of the key motivating factors for playing with a 'win now' mentality last year (and not risking more mistakes from the bench puppies) was that EJ was coaching to save the livelihood of his fellow coaches.

This would tend to encourage long minutes from veterans, and leave little in the tank late-season. Which means less time for rookie mistakes.

All that is one reason why we'd better hope a guy like Pech (and Nick, Dom, Dray) have put in serious work and improved over the summer. We got to save some enrgy for the vets late season.

You know, so we can run the table and all...

Posted by: doclinkin | August 21, 2008 7:46 PM | Report abuse

"Aside from the fact that anyone who actually watched him play knows that Robinson was not by any reasonable (or even unreasonable) definition strictly a jumpshooter, there's also the little fact that he didn't actually win a title until he was paired with Tim Duncan, who was the leading scorer and MVP on both of the title teams the Spurs won when Robinson was on board. So, anyway you look at it, your argument is, as usual, wrong.

Posted by: kalorama | August 21, 2008 5:37 PM "

As usual, kalorama likes to get on his throne, pathetically pile on horsecrap from left field that's irrelevant to the discussion, and then flush.

The point wasn't about Opech being equivalent to DRob.

The point wasn't about Duncan being an MVP.

The point wasn't even about Duncan.

Nowhere did I say that DRob was "strictly" a jump shooting big man. You must pulled that out of your rear like you usually do.

The point was that a big man who likes to take J's, such as DRob, has won a championship, no matter how hard you try to spin it.

You can keep pushing the point that DRob didn't win a championship until Duncan showed up, or how DRob was a beast in the paint, or whatever, but if you dare to say that DRob made no contribution to his team winning one with Duncan, then not only are you wrong as usual, but you're a fool and an idiot.

Posted by: DC Man88 | August 21, 2008 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Been too busy to check in the last couple of days, a couple of points to add to the discussion.

I'd agree with oddjob's point about Songalia. First of all the guy wasn't hurt when Grunfeld signed him. Secondly the guy had a rep as a hustling, hardnosed defender, who had played in the Princeton, and had a face the basket offensive game.

Since our two centers had about a zero face the basket game, and our team was considered soft by most of the league it was a signing that made perfectly good sense.

Songalia hasn't been able to play at full speed since suffering the back injury, but I've made the point before and continue to beleive that the signing of Songalia and Daniels were meant to change the chemistry of the Wizards lockerroom.

I liked Larry Hughes, but letting larry walk and signing Songalia and Daniels, then trading Kwame for Butler was a stroke of genius. Those moves brought much needed "tough juice" to the Wizards.

Along with Jamison those guys have forged the kind of lockerroom where Ernie can bring in his young pups and teach them to be solid pros. Each step that he has made seems to have been made for a reason with sound basketball judgement behind it.

Sometimes things don't work out, injuries and boneheadedness can blow the best laid plans all to hell. But I beleive that when we flamed out agianst Miami in the second round Ernie made the judgement that he needed some tough guys in his lockerroom.

The move to let Larry go and use the money to bring in Songalia and Daniels may have set this team back on the court for awhile, but it was made to create the kind of change in team chemistry that Ernie felt was needed.

Ernie had dealt with the Knicks and a tough, tough, minded playoff team that couldn't quite get past MJ and the Bulls. In Milwaukee he had a talented big three that just never was quite tough enough to go deep in the playoffs. I think he made the early judgement that he needed to inject a little more toughness into this group and not ride for years with another soft team.

As to the ongoing Pecherov debate, at least we're having a serious discussion about basketball around here.

But as always, our newly confessed Pistons fan who hangs out here and looks down his nose at all things Bullets/Wizards, spends a lot of time and space being dead wrong.

Doclinkin as always has been right on point. Pecherov's rep in Europe was as a tough minded scrapper. He was a guy that was playing in the top leagues at a very young age and he was physically immature, but he didn't back down from tough physical play.

He had had displayed the ability to pop a sweet little jumper from time to time and had good soft hands for a big around the basket and could step away and face the hoop and displayed good court vision.

Not a top 10 pick, but the general feeling was he was a solid pick at 10-20 which is where Ernie got him. Some scouting combines felt if he'd have waited another year he well may have been a lottery slection. So he was a solid value pick.

His first summer in Las Vegas it took him a couple of games to get going(the whole team looked bad since they arrived late and were playing teams that already had played games together) But Pecherov and Blatche got going and the kid had a couple of nice games.

I know, it's not the NBA finals. But that's where rookies start. The rest of what we've seen is from a guy that missed half of a season with a foot problem.

The reasonable fans amoung us can see that 35 games from a player on a bad foot doesn't a career make, or Break. The guy needs time to show what he can do on a healthy set of legs. A smart team will give him that time, a dumb team will declare him a bust, and bury him.

I'd agree with Doc, I'd like to see the Wiz look at bringing in a "big man" coach, even if it's only as a camp consultant. Bill Walton would probably never give up broadcasting for fulltime coaching.

But Bill could be an interesting guy to bring in to work with this group of young bigs. I can hear him now when somebody makes a mistake," NO, NO, No...that's horrribbble basketalll...!"

Posted by: GM | August 22, 2008 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Again, GM attempts to distort the facts.

The Wiz did not "let Larry walk." EG gave him an offer that was not suitable and not "everything we can do to keep him" as he promised.

Cavs gave him a better offer...one that he felt better matched his market rate, and he signed. EG tried to come back with a better offer, but LH had already committed to the Cavs b/c he didn't want to play games.

Also, GM talks about DSong and AD being brought in and getting rid of the "boneheadedness" in the lockeroom. Unfortunately, they didn't because Gilby continued to be Gilby.

DSong and AD's affect on the younger players is minimal, if at all, when you see the face of the franchise continue to undermine the coach and march to the beat of his own drummer.

Posted by: DC Man88 | August 22, 2008 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Oh...

And if Micheal Jordan wouldn't have been stupid enough to give up on a young Rip Hamilton, and give away a future Allstar to Detroit, the Almighty Pistons would be a team that never quite made it.

Dumars is to be given great credit for assembling teams. One of his greatest strengths has been in picking up players that other teams haven't had the patience to develop.

When Jordan "schooling" of a young Rip Hamilton day after day MJ missed one thing, the kid kept coming back. Jordan ignored one of the basic points about his own career. MJ wasn't MJ when he came in this league, the player he became was developed by being tested by fire by the old Celtics and Pistons.

Larry Bird and Isiah Thomas and company made MJ tougher because they kept beating him down and he kept coming back. The stats mavens on here will go back and reprint MJ's early scoring titles and such. But the fact remains the guy kept working and getting better year after year. And if he hadn't, he wouldn't be the player we all remember now that has 6 rings.

Early MJ could jump through the roof, it took him a few years to get forged as a champion. "The Pearl" could could score at will as a Bullet, he needed to go to the Knicks to learn how to be a champion.

There are few rookies that come in this league and are successful from day one. Many can put up "numbers" as a rookie, but in crunch time of games they're getting schooled terribly.

As a rookie Ilguskas was a guy that the league's best scored on at will, and he looked bad while they were doing it. You can go back and quote stats, but the truth is the guy got more then a few "facials" and was "posterized" on a regular basis.

Not that much different from most rookie "bigs" in this league. Ilguskas had a lot of work to do once he got here. For him it took quite awhile because his foot really got "screwed up". But when he finally recovered he's been a reliable big man for quite awhile.

Most guys have to go back in the gym and work on their game in the offseason to make it in this league. Give Pecherov that benefit of the doubt, don't declare a wasted pick after 35 games on a bad wheel.

Joe Dumars has some of the greatest patience in the league as a talent evauluator. He's picked up guy after guy off the scrap heap and they've turned into solid ballers as a Piston. A Pistons fan ought to be able to see that.

Posted by: GM | August 22, 2008 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Jordan alone can't be blamed for Detroit's success.

Don't forget how the Wiz gave up on big Ben, and how the Wiz gave up on Rasheed.

Also, the year the Wiz drafted Jared Jeffries (11) and Juan Dixon (17), a low key guy by the name of Tayshaun Prince was drafted at 23. He's not an NBA champ and Olympian.

That's why they call it the "Curse of Les Boulez (BouleS)."

BTW, get over your argument about Big Z being posterized or dunked on. A dunk is just 2 points. A big man who hasn't been dunked on isn't playing defense.

You of all people should not be overhyping a dunk, since you and the Wizard of Westwood (John Wooden) are from the same era.

Posted by: DC Man88 | August 22, 2008 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Fact is Grunfeld knew perfectly well what he was doing when he "low balled" Larry. As you have said here repeatedly Grunfeld didn't really make an attempt to keep Hughes if it meant outbidding a team that overpaid him.

Offering an offer to meet or exceed Cleveland's offer was a face saving measure after it was clear Larry had walked for the dollars. Fact of the matter is Cleveland badly overpaid for Larry.

I like Hughes as a player, I think that being paired with another combo guard was the best fit for him and he really should have taken Grunfeld's initial offer to stay.

But he didn't. I think Grunfeld was determined to bring in some tough minded Vets to the team after that season. Making an over market bid to Larry wasn't going to allow him to do that. It's a free country, Larry went for the money and he has ever right to do that.

I've heard Larry interviewed more then once since going to Cleveland, he sure has sounded like a guy that wished he'd have taken Grunfeld's intial offer and stayed a Wizard. I wish him luck in Chicago, he might find a better pairing with their rookie. Him and Hinrich don't really seem to click yet.

But the fact is Grunfeld has made move after move to bring tougher minded, more hardnosed players to this team and let guys that are more concerned about "minutes and points" or pre-game buffets fall by the way side.

Butler, Songalia, Stevenson, and Daniels are all solid vets who play the game the right way. Stevenson needs to cut down on the talking, but everybody in this league talks now. It's as basic as dribbling to these guys.

And, Hey and if we didn't have Gil, who would 88 have to love for the next 6 years?

Posted by: GM | August 22, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

"Fact is Grunfeld knew perfectly well what he was doing when he "low balled" Larry. As you have said here repeatedly Grunfeld didn't really make an attempt to keep Hughes if it meant outbidding a team that overpaid him."

Which goes to show you that EG can't be trusted. He said the Wiz would do everything to retain him. He thought it ws a multistep process, but it wasn't.

When did I say "repeatedly" about EG? I didn't. EG proved that he wanted to keep Larry after all when he came back with a similar offer after LH signed with Cleveland. If they didn't want Larry, EG would have left it at that, not present a "too late" offer.

"Offering an offer to meet or exceed Cleveland's offer was a face saving measure after it was clear Larry had walked for the dollars. Fact of the matter is Cleveland badly overpaid for Larry."

You only have to make a "face saving" measure when you've lost face as the Wiz did.

Also, your post game analysis about Larry being overpaid is meaningless. That was Larry's market value at the time just like how EG "overpaid" for ET but was the market value at the time.

"I like Hughes as a player, I think that being paired with another combo guard was the best fit for him and he really should have taken Grunfeld's initial offer to stay."

He's making more money now than if he had signed with the Wiz, about 10 mil more. That's a lot of ice melt to sell to make up that kind of money.

"But he didn't. I think Grunfeld was determined to bring in some tough minded Vets to the team after that season. Making an over market bid to Larry wasn't going to allow him to do that. It's a free country, Larry went for the money and he has ever right to do that."

And the Wiz haven't been to the 2nd round since Larry left. Whooppee.

"I've heard Larry interviewed more then once since going to Cleveland, he sure has sounded like a guy that wished he'd have taken Grunfeld's intial offer and stayed a Wizard. I wish him luck in Chicago, he might find a better pairing with their rookie. Him and Hinrich don't really seem to click yet."

Sorry, but that means nothing.

"But the fact is Grunfeld has made move after move to bring tougher minded, more hardnosed players to this team and let guys that are more concerned about "minutes and points" or pre-game buffets fall by the way side."

And Gilby isn't obsessed with his personal stats? Get real. That's the only thing he cares about.


Posted by: DC Man88 | August 22, 2008 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Coach Wooden is 40 some years older then I. But in any way shape or form being compared to the "Wizard of Westwood" would be considered amoung the highest compliments anyone in basketball could ever receive.

I'm not "in the game", but I grew up watching many of the alltime greats play. Watching guys like Wooden coach and assemble great team after great team was a pure marvel. What many people forget about Wooden because he had Hall of Fame Centers like Jabber(Alcinder back in the olden days)was his ability to win an NCCA title with a team that didn't have a starter taller then 6'5".

When 88 trys to write insults using basketball legends like Wooden or Lefty, who famously wanted to make Maryland "The UCLA of the East", I only have to chuckle.

Posted by: GM | August 22, 2008 11:02 AM | Report abuse

"Coach Wooden is 40 some years older then I. But in any way shape or form being compared to the "Wizard of Westwood" would be considered amoung the highest compliments anyone in basketball could ever receive.

I'm not "in the game", but I grew up watching many of the alltime greats play. Watching guys like Wooden coach and assemble great team after great team was a pure marvel. What many people forget about Wooden because he had Hall of Fame Centers like Jabber(Alcinder back in the olden days)was his ability to win an NCCA title with a team that didn't have a starter taller then 6'5".

When 88 trys to write insults using basketball legends like Wooden or Lefty, who famously wanted to make Maryland "The UCLA of the East", I only have to chuckle.

Posted by: GM | August 22, 2008 11:02 AM "

Once again, GM misses the point...and the point was that Big Z being "posterized" means absolutely nothing.

Posted by: DC Man88 | August 22, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

According to this news
http://www.talkbasket.net/news/songaila-out-of-olympics.html

Songaila's back problem is suspected to be spine hernia. This is not a good thing consider that he already had surgery on his herniated disk.

Posted by: Sagaliba | August 22, 2008 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Gil's got his contract and security,now we get to see what he cares about. These guys are all intensely competitive, can't tell me that Gil doesn't care about winning.

Let him get back on the court with this team fully healthy and we'll get to see if Ernie's putting together a winner or not.

Posted by: GM | August 22, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Scariest hing about that 'spine hernia' citation was this quote:

"Washington Wizards medical staff made more test and the final decision was that Songaila will have to miss Olympics. Doctors advised him to rest for a couple of weeks."

The __Wizards doctors__ say he's okay and just needs a little rest? Poor guy is doomed. Out for the year.

Posted by: doclinkin | August 22, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

"Gil's got his contract and security,now we get to see what he cares about. These guys are all intensely competitive, can't tell me that Gil doesn't care about winning.

Let him get back on the court with this team fully healthy and we'll get to see if Ernie's putting together a winner or not.

Posted by: GM | August 22, 2008 11:32 AM "

You're right.

I guess making 65 mil off his second contract (not including turning down the 1 year option or the 2 year extension) or the shoe contract money, or the video game money isn't "security."

..especially since Gilby said he's paying big money to feed his kids from Mickey D's and that he's so worried about the costs of college that he said "...I mean college is expensive, but it ain' that expensive.."

I mean, who could live off a hardware store stockboy's 65 mil salary?

A smart guy posted a cliche on this blog awhile ago that "a leopard never changes its spots"...and it wasn't GM.

Excuses, excuses....

Posted by: DC Man88 | August 22, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Any thread more then 50 posts long always gets steered back to the endless Gillbbey...lovefest.

Think I'll pass...

As the resident poster that's been under the knife twice for herniated disks. A herniated disk is never good news. But there are many that never require surgery, rest and rehabb do quite often work.

Some athletes have recovered and played quite well even after disk surgery. Joe Montana is one that comes to mind. But a back injury takes away the hops quicker then a knee injury. Not good news at all for a guy that was vertically challenged to start with.

The protocal today is to always try rehabb and a variety of non surgical options first. We will probably know by early in camp which way this will go. Doctors are really reluctant to operate on a back the second time these days.

But I wish Darius the best of luck, hope he can recover and play well. He's a guy that has a lot to teach the Wizards' young guys. Pecherov in particular could learn from a wiley vet like Darius.

From years of experience after taking a nasty fall. Back injuries are no picnic and even the best doctors in the world are often left quessing what to do sometimes.

Posted by: GM | August 22, 2008 1:19 PM | Report abuse

You're right "a Leopard doesn't change his spots" that's why any Gillbey..! debate is pointless with you.

Not going to waste 87 posts on the same ole, same ole, from the same ole about the same ole...

We'll see what this team looks like when Eddie gets Etan and Gil worked back into the rotation along with a bench full of young talent.

You have a nice day, ole and by the way, I just booked 12 more tons of ice melter today for a customer... got to get back to work, it's soon time to order spring seeds...

Posted by: GM | August 22, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Hindsight is always 20-20, but most people on this blog thought D-Song was a nice fit as a backup PF in Eddie's Princeton offense. Evaluating a guy who had back surgery his 1st season and now appears to have a related injury makes it look like EG made a bad move. I'll bet Toronto fans who think trading for J. O'Neal was great move will moaning the first time he's out with his chronic knee or shoulder woes.

Bottom line is that D-Song was signed to a fairly modest 5-yr. deal and is earning below the MLE available today. If his back was healthy and he was able to give us consistent production, we would say EG was a genius. Regardless, D-Song is savvy veteran, a good lockerrom influence and does not complain about his PT. At times last year, he played very little. When CB3 was out hurt and AB started to tail off as a starter, Songaila stepped in and played well. Let's hope his back isn't a permanent condition.

I hope we've heard the last of how and why EG didn't re-sign Larry Huges back in 2005. We'd be a worse team with a guy who always misses 20-30 games a year and needs to be paired with a combo guard like GA to be effective. He's never come anywhere near his production here in Cleveland or Chicago. Anyone that thinks he was even worth the $9M/yr. offer that EG made at the time is crazy; there isn't a team in the league who would give him more than the MLE if he was on the market today.

Be glad he was Cleveland's mistake and they had to absorb both Ben Wallace and Wally World's contracts to unload him. It took 3+ years for Cleveland to get out from under the contract before they could even make a trade for a decent PG. Chicago will be trying to move him unless Hinrich can be traded.

Posted by: wizfan89 | August 22, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

"a low key guy by the name of Tayshaun Prince was drafted at 23. He's not an NBA champ and Olympian...That's why they call it the "Curse of Les Boulez (BouleS)."

OWN3D!!!!!

Posted by: prescrunk | August 22, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad you agree that a leopard ain't gonna change its spots, which directly translates to more "me ball," whether there's security or not.

Posted by: DC Man88 | August 22, 2008 3:13 PM | Report abuse

People can poo poo the Cav's signing of LH, but it doesn't matter, because they still have a dude by the name of Lebron...at least for now.

LH's first season with Cleveland, they went to the conference semifinals where they lost to the Pistons.

LH's second season with Cleveland, they went to the NBA finals where they lost to the Spurs.

Which finals or even semifinals have the Wiz been to since LH left?

BTW, people can hem and haw about how LH is injury prone, but here are the regular season stats:

LH (10 seasons): 618 games played/820 possible games = 75.4%

Gilby (7 seasons): 431 games played/ 574 possible games = 75.1%

People on this blog seem to forget how injury prone Gilby is with his abdominal strain, his dislocated clavicle, 2 knee surgeries, etc.

Posted by: DC Man88 | August 22, 2008 3:27 PM | Report abuse

a low key guy by the name of Tayshaun Prince was drafted at 23. He's now an NBA champ and Olympian...That's why they call it the "Curse of Les Boulez (BouleS)."

Posted by: DC Man88 | August 22, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

prescunk, Picking NBA players is in many ways a crap shoot. Even more so since when the high schoolers flocked in. At least making these guys go to one year of college has sorted it out a little.

It has especially helped with the International guys, trying to judge guys before they were 20 led to teams scouting guys that had only Jr. League experience. Some of those guys hadn't even played against what was equal to mid-level High School talent and scouts were trying to project them playing in the NBA.

That led to some major league Euro busts in the draft, if you have noticed the number of Euro's getting picked at the top of the draft has dropped off some since the 20 and over rule came in effect. And so has the number of outright busts.

We can sit here all day and talk about guys that this team or that team missed. Karl Malone has to be the all time gaffe for the Bullets, but look at how many other teams missed him too.

Arenas was a second rounder and is now a three time Allstar...But we better not go there, you know were we'll be 87 posts from now.

I'd agree with Wizfan89, picking up Darius was a smart move at the time, injury aside he's still a solid vet that is a good influence on the younger guys.

Posted by: GM | August 22, 2008 3:38 PM | Report abuse

There will be pages after pages if we list down all the bad picks by the Wiz. But who do you think is there best pick in the last 30 years? Rip or Jeff Malone?

Posted by: Roy, | August 22, 2008 3:46 PM | Report abuse

If your point is that Gil is injury prone, then why resign another combo guard that's injury prone as well?

I'd rather have the combo gaurd that's a three time Allstar to build around. And it's pretty clear Golden State had no hesitation in offering Arenas the maxium that they could so it didn't appear they had injury concerns.

Please explain how the Wizards could have left Arenas walk AND improved right now as you demand that they do. Your previously stated intent to let Gil walk and then trading Jamison to Charlotte for Okafor was no improvement at all.

That would have left us still over the cap and unable to sign another free agent. In effect you would have gave up Jamison + others, and then let Arenas walk, ALL for Okafor.

John Wooden was just a lowly college coach, but I bet he'd have never made that deal. Bet he still wouldn't even at 90 something...

Posted by: GM | August 22, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

There is no curse on this franchise.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2008 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Roy, my question is how did we ever let either one get away? They were both really solid players.

What I like about Rip is the fact that he's learned to score in so many ways, the sucker's like trying to chase down Reggie Miller. He's really expanded his range, and he doesn't hesitate to go to the hoop.
And he's become a much better defender.

I'd have to say Rip has the edge over Malone, but Malone was a really tough player too.

Posted by: GM | August 22, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse

"prescunk, Picking NBA players is in many ways a crap shoot. Even more so since when the high schoolers flocked in. At least making these guys go to one year of college has sorted it out a little.

It has especially helped with the International guys, trying to judge guys before they were 20 led to teams scouting guys that had only Jr. League experience. Some of those guys hadn't even played against what was equal to mid-level High School talent and scouts were trying to project them playing in the NBA.

That led to some major league Euro busts in the draft, if you have noticed the number of Euro's getting picked at the top of the draft has dropped off some since the 20 and over rule came in effect. And so has the number of outright busts.

We can sit here all day and talk about guys that this team or that team missed. Karl Malone has to be the all time gaffe for the Bullets, but look at how many other teams missed him too.

Arenas was a second rounder and is now a three time Allstar...But we better not go there, you know were we'll be 87 posts from now.

I'd agree with Wizfan89, picking up Darius was a smart move at the time, injury aside he's still a solid vet that is a good influence on the younger guys.

Posted by: GM | August 22, 2008 3:38 PM "

Must be nice if you can get it.....a GM job for an NBA franchise and paid millions to shoot craps in the lottery, and all the fans forgive you as scuh....at least in GM's world.

No wonder it's easy for GM to have so much trust in EG...there's plenty of cushion for him to make mistakes.

Posted by: DC Man88 | August 22, 2008 4:34 PM | Report abuse

"There is no curse on this franchise.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2008 4:07 PM "

Maybe...

Just a dumb basketball owner hiring dumb managers who hire dumb coaches who draft and teach dumb players.

Can't be more simple than that.

Posted by: DC Man88 | August 22, 2008 4:55 PM | Report abuse

duh

Posted by: Anonymous | August 24, 2008 1:24 PM | Report abuse

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