MMPG: Team of the Weak

Aw, man. That's going to leave a mark. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Washington Wizards

The Wizards (0-5) are the only winless team in the NBA after the Los Angeles Clippers knocked off the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday. The week started with a 112-104 overtime loss in Milwaukee in which the Wizards blew a 14-point fourth-quarter lead and led Coach Eddie Jordan to say, "That was not NBA basketball out there."

They followed up that loss by going down in a shootout with the New York Knicks at home, then they laid an egg in Orlando. The ailing roster took another hit when point guard Antonio Daniels was forced to miss the game because of sore right knee. He will be examined today. Coupled with injuries to Gilbert Arenas and Brendan Haywood, the Wizards are in a hole with 77 games remaining.

The players say they won't panic, but the problems might be too large to overcome just by ratcheting up the effort on the floor. They overcame an 0-5 start last season to win six in a row, so anything is possible. But realistically, how is this sinking ship going to be rescued with Arenas is still a month away - at least - from being ready to contribute?

They are relying on several young players, some who either aren't ready for major minutes or wouldn't be getting them if Eddie Jordan had other options.

The Wizards have been incredibly patient the past three seasons, sticking with continuity and holding on to that period in early 2007 - before Arenas initially hurt his left knee - when they had the best record in the Eastern Conference. But the league changes quickly, windows close in a flash. Think Dallas is still feeling great that it won 67 games two seasons ago?

The Wizards appear to be waiting on a magic switch, but the more likely scenario will involve Ernie Grunfeld shaking things up with a bold move. Hey, if Arenas is willing to take drastic measures to show how much he embraces change, Grunfeld might have to make a dramatic deal before the team grows stale.

By Michael Lee |  November 10, 2008; 11:02 AM ET MMPG: Week 2
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Yep it's time. Time to blow up this mess. Consistency is good but not even if it doesn't win you games. With the exception of AJ and Caron, none of the Wizards starters should be starting. Etan sucks and he's coming off heart surgery. AD can handle the ball but you need some points from the PG position. And Stevenson looks like he's contractually mandated to *not* shoot even though he plays *shoot*ing guard. That leaves only 2 players that can score reliably in the starting 5. Can't win too many games like that. The bench is littered with too many immature players whose output varies night to night.

Posted by: tundey | November 10, 2008 11:32 AM

I'm not sure what 'bold move' can be made with this team by the GM. The only one who might attract interest is CB because he's relatively young and still possibly underpaid relative to other all star sf's. AJ and GA are here to stay because of salaries. Any move involving a player not amomng those 3 isn't really bold.

The bold move must be made by the coach. A starting lineup of NY, CB, DM, JM and Etan with Juan, AB, AJ, DS and Pech off the bench is intriguing. The defense should be be better with this bigger squad. NO more doubling down. We'd be woefully inadequate at 3 point shooting and interior scoring with those starters but it IS bold. It would be bombs away when the second team gets in the game.

We need to be creative at this point. Standing pat isnt getting it done.

Posted by: original_mark | November 10, 2008 11:33 AM

Remember everyone, "Character, Commitment, Connection". It was never these other things everyone seems to be making a big deal about... "Championship", "Playoffs"... or even "Winning" games...

Posted by: lameotron | November 10, 2008 11:51 AM

I am a diehard Wiz fan and as much as I hate to admit this, I have to: The Wizards suck right now. It is quite painful to watch them on TV. I try, I really do but they give me a headache. I can't quite figure out how this team sucks so much. It's the same players minus Haywood(Areanas doesn't count because he wasn't around last year either) so why are they playing so poorly. I will continue to root for them but I am not sure how many games I want to pay for to watch them lose. This really sucks!

Posted by: ivyleague | November 10, 2008 12:08 PM

Every single game is the same. The offense grinds to a halt and one of two things happens- NY creates off the dribble, or Caron hits a jumper with someone in his face. We never produce open looks, and short of a few amazing ally oops by McGhee, we do next to nothing in the paint.

On defense, it's the same thing we've seen for years. Everyone scrambles around, chasing the ball along the perimeter. Opposing team works the ball around to an opener shooter who drains a three. The guys are working hard on defense, but the scrambling doesn't work, and it's disheartening to work so hard only to give up an open three. Team then hangs its head, and the next offensive possession is terrible.

Eddie restored this team to respectability. He's a local guy and he's done a fine job. But his systems, ultimately, do not produce. Three straight first round losses, and now headed for the lottery. As much as I hate to say it, Eddie has to go. Now. At this point, what the hell have we got to lose?

Posted by: bryc3 | November 10, 2008 12:23 PM

A poll is in order:

When will Wizards win their first game?

Posted by: sagaliba | November 10, 2008 12:30 PM

Answer to the poll: The Wizards will win their first game after Eddie Jordan leaves. Time for a new voice. We appreciate what Eddie has done but he has reached his ceiling. Four years in a row (at least) the Wizards have been the worst 3point defensive team. It's almost as if coaches tell their teams "Alright we got the Wizards tonite, No layups allowed and shoot as many 3's as you want" They problem is, they have shown us better, so we expect better.

Posted by: SkinzNWiz | November 10, 2008 12:45 PM

First, get rid of STEVENSON and Daniels, and maybe Eddie Jordan since he likes using the two bums a lot which hindered the development of Nick Young.

Posted by: iamdawalrus | November 10, 2008 12:46 PM

I watched them up close in Orlando Saturday night. The vaunted Princeton offense isn't clicking with this personnel. Three weaves and passes along the top of the key before an isolation for C Butler, Antawn or a dump down inside. It's ugly to watch. Nobody is attacking the rim or the boards. Nobody is protecting the rim. Nobody is luke-warm from the outside. The team has no real threat from 3 point land and they all seem to be in a lull. It's flat-out disgusting to watch right now. Not sure what its going to take to get a 'W' out of this group. UNC might even beat this team by 10.

Posted by: gregskins | November 10, 2008 1:15 PM


Posted by: forbid | November 10, 2008 1:21 PM


Posted by: forbid | November 10, 2008 1:24 PM

i do not think that firing the coach will help them win. Getting their players back will help them win. The Wizards were never such a deep team that they can go without their full staff and still win. How will firing Jordan address that? It will just help fan frustration thats about it. A month after you fire Jordan and are still without key players and still losing then you fans will want to fire EG for not picking the right players. Then you will want to fire the coach that replaces EJ. Then you will want to trade the players. Finally you fans will have what you ask for. The old Bullets. Typical wizards fans, your solution to every problem regarding the wizards is to fire or get rid of someone. I hope you fans get your wish. Yes, lets gut the team, start over then throw the next coach and players under the bus when they dont fair any better.

Posted by: gdavis4 | November 10, 2008 1:25 PM

the list of guys who cant ply in our team r or not good enough:

stevenson, daniels (way past prime), pecherov, mcGuire, brown, songaila (maybe).


Posted by: forbid | November 10, 2008 1:30 PM

What kind of fans are you all? The season is not even 3 weeks old and you are already calling for the coaches head? The coach who is being judged without the benefit of using some of his best weapons. Two of five starters are injured people. Which team in the NBA can play competitve basketball without their best offensive and defensive players. Take Kobe and Bynum from the Lakers...are they competitive? The Wizards are playing without their offensive and defensive floor leaders...and you think the coach is to blame.

Eddie Jordan is doing his job. It is time for players to step up and become accountable. When he saw Andray giving less than 100%, Andray got a chance to watch basketball from the bench.

Breaking up the core of this team is not the answer. Developing or moving some of the young guys may be.

Posted by: cabeverly | November 10, 2008 1:39 PM

A bold move is deffinetly in order, A Haywood and Thomas trade for another big man would be a good start. And as much as I dont want to say it Yes Eddie has to go. He has run his course and its obvious he cant take the team to the next level!

Posted by: wizardsfan | November 10, 2008 1:39 PM

Hey Forbid, I appreciate that you want people to hear you, but this is the internet and typing in all caps MAKES YOU LOOOK LIKE AN ASS. Everyone will be much more likely to actually read what you have to say if take a serious look at your life and your priorities, and finally reach that point of emotional maturity where you no longer feel the urge to reach for that caps lock key.

Posted by: mgm2rr | November 10, 2008 2:27 PM

All I have to say is....I knew this was going to happen. Look I love Arenas to death, but the guy as an injured knee that has been opperated on so many times I lost count. And Haywood has had one good season since he's been with the team, Etan is coming off heart surgery, and like others had mentioned we are relying on alot of young guys to play major minutes, that frankley they shouldn't be playing.

We shouldn't have resigned Arenas, we should have gone after someone else, like Elton Brand or whom ever else was available. This team needs size in the worst way, it has been obvious every time we match up against the Cavs in the playoffs, we don't have the size to defend them.

Maybe when Arenas comes back healthy...(I hope), things will get better, but I'm not sold that we are a playoff team this year. You would think, looking at our roster we are a playoff team, but we have alot of issues, and Butler and Jamison are not carrying the team like they did last year, when Arenas was hurt.

I guess this is what we have to live with, I can't imagine our team, with this much talent, being in the cellar of the Eastern Conference for too long....I hope they have a better Dec, than they have had Nov.

Posted by: avbanig | November 10, 2008 2:27 PM

Eddie Jordan does NOT have to go. It'd be a mistake to fire him. What retread or untested coach would be better in his place? When would that move pay dividends, even in a best case scenario? It'd be writing off this entire season. It's too early to make that move. Making a change in the offseason would make more sense, particularly if Arenas comes back and the team still cannot get anything done.

I agree with posters who would like to see the starting lineup changed. Nick Young deserves a shot starting at shooting guard. Stevenson hasn't been a lock down defender, and he hasn't scored either. Give Young a chance to become more consistent and see if he can learn to play some defense. Hard when the whole team's defensive effort isn't that great, but at least he's a runner who fits Jordan's system.

I'd also like to see somebody else starting at center. Etan can't do it. Not sure if that's because he's not back into game shape from his surgery or if he's just never going to be the player we hoped. Haywood, for all his detractors, had a great season last year and was one of the reasons Washington kept it together without Arenas. Even Haywood's free throw shooting was dramatically improved. McGee looks like our center of the future, but he's not ready yet. Blatche is a natural 4, and he's not going to get time ahead of Jamison (nor should he at this point). I might even think of Darius (another 4, but one who has been a bit more consistent when asked to play bigger guys at center).

Washington needs bodies - a move with some of the role players in trade could pay bigger dividends than people think. Trading Caron would be a mistake unless he could be packaged with other players to get two proven starters... even then, I'd prefer to keep him.

In my heart, I still want to see what Washington can do with Butler, Jamison and Arenas all healthy and a supporting cast of young guys (Etan and Stevenson should not be the other two starters with those three).

Posted by: gophercrow | November 10, 2008 2:30 PM

forbid and gdavis... enough already! Eddie has done as much as he will do as the coach of this team. He won't do any better because he has not shown an ability to adjust what we (the Wiz) do in order to be competitive. The teams body language says they have quit. The Princeton offense is High School and is about as dumb as having a 700 page playbook. Get him out now... Van Gundy, MJackson, AJohnson. Can't get any worse

Posted by: SkinzNWiz | November 10, 2008 2:32 PM

I join gdavis4 and cabeverly in their assessment that it is unwise to call for EJ’s head.

Put simply, the Wiz are without the team’s key scoring threat in Arenas (28 ppg) and inside presence in Haywood. Subtract those elements from any other team and you’ve got a very pedestrian squad. Unless you’re the Pistons, teams don’t go far without their stars.

That the Wiz posted a 43-39 regular season record last year without Agent Zero should warrant kudos for EJ, not cries for his termination.

As I’ve posted before, Coach Jordan has his weaknesses. But he should be judged based upon his performance over the season(s) and with his starters on the court.

Posted by: postmike | November 10, 2008 2:40 PM

cabeverly, I just don't know how you can say that about Jordan, he's the best coach this team has had in 30years since we won a couple of championships in the 70's. I would hate to get rid of a coach that gets the wizards to the playoffs 4 years in a row, when they had only made it once in 25 years and it got swept in that series.

Eddie is not the problem, the problem is that our best player keeps getting hurt every year, and if he's not hurt, then its our second best or 3rd best guy, or even our mediocre center that is now out for half the season! You can't blame Eddie for that!

But you can blame Grunfield! I know he loves Arenas, heck we all love Arenas and what he did for this franchise, but I wanted to see us move on without him last offseason. We could have gotten E Brand, and had a bigger front court and at the same time had a bigger back court, by moving Butler to the 2.

This would have made us a much better team overall, and would have helped us when we play bigger teams such as Cle and Det.

I think Grunfeld should go!

Posted by: avbanig | November 10, 2008 2:40 PM

For four years Eddie has played the healthy Vets 42 plus minutes a game. He never knew how to develop younger guys. Therefore we have 2, 3 and 4 year guys who cannot step up and at least keep the team a float. Therefore EJ is the real issue and has been for years.

Posted by: ericmc1998 | November 10, 2008 3:03 PM

Maybe the Wizards (and all professional athletes) need some incentive?

Maybe athletes should negotiate their best annual pay then multiply that by the team's winning percentage?

The savings go to lowering ticket prices for disappointed yet loyal fans.

I'd renew my Nationals tickets if I received a "performance rebate."

Posted by: clandestinetomcat | November 10, 2008 3:19 PM

every team plays their starts 40minutes a game, last time I checked Kobe, Lebron and guys that are that good play 40 minutes a game.

And let me think, ummm the Wizards didn't have a first round draft pick in 2 of those what young talent is he supposed to develop? Last time I checked Kwame was a 1st overall pick by another Mr. Jordan...are you going to blame that on Eddie also?? I think Eddie has done a good job in developing Haywood, Blatche, N Young, McGuire, and Peterov so far, other than that the Wizards haven't had much talent to work with because of horrible trades they made in the earlier part of the decade!!

So I don't know what to make of that comment...hmmmmm??????

Posted by: avbanig | November 10, 2008 3:19 PM

Look, this is a league of “What have you done for me lately!” I think most will agree EJ has done a good job on most nights in the past but he’s just not getting it done now. He is in charge of reading the body language of his team and playing players who are performing. He’s not doing that. There is NO reason why N1 isn’t starting. He has been the most consistent player this year thus far. Also can anyone explain why EJ continues to take McGee out of the game after he makes a great oop or blocks a shot. What kind of message is he sending to that youngster? People keep saying it’s still early but this performance trend started back in training camp. EJ has had ample time to adjust this roster. Plus it’s his job to find ways to motivate his club and win ball games. He’s just not getting the job done.

Posted by: dhbond | November 10, 2008 3:36 PM

avbanig, I'm not sure what you read, but I said that Eddie should stay. Going further, I think that your take on Grundfeld is ridiculous. Coaches and GMs can't prevent injuries. Eddie is doing a good job with the talent that he has and Ernie is doing a good job finding talent and keeping it together.

Posted by: cabeverly | November 10, 2008 3:52 PM

can we bring in McDyess to play center?

Posted by: gregskins | November 10, 2008 4:06 PM

Anyone talking seriously about dumping EJ and/or Grunfeld at this time should have their heads examined. Quickly.

This looks much more like a chemistry problem right now than a coaching or coaching philosophy problem. Stevenson's got NO fire. Start Young and use Dixon a lot, to take some of the pressure off AJ and CB. Dixon's assists are way up, and even though D is a problem, he's got more fire than half the other players combined. Put the screws to Blatche with some built-in deadlines for consistent play.

Use McGee as much as possible, without getting him hurt or too intimidated. He IS the future of this team, and a bright future it should be, indeed. Get him in the weight room, and then go hire Bill Russell, pay him whatever he asks, and bring him here to coach and counsel McGee about D and about hustle. It would be a great investment in the future of this team.

Beyond that, pray. No franchise could survive the injuries that have swamped this team. We all need a break from this injury curse, and we need it soon.

Posted by: loulor | November 10, 2008 4:12 PM

Everyone always blames EJ! I think this guy has gotten more out of this team than anyone could have.

I like the team but Jamison is not the type player to be a key cog and win a championship. folks talk about gilbert's defense, but jamison is a close second. To be a power forward he offers little if his jumper is not falling.

I think our hope rest on McGee being a dominant player in 2-3 years, and beyond. I have to give Grunfeld credit for the pick.

Posted by: oknow1 | November 10, 2008 4:17 PM

Etan Thomas doesn't have much skill and he never has. He was all effort but now he doesn't even have that. He's 6'8" at the most and cannot keep up with the bigger players down low. Sorry about his heart but he needs to go.

Eddie Jordan's problem is his substitution patterns. He puts us in terrible matchup issues for too long and we can't recover.

Antwan isn't hitting big shots and Caron has lost a step (which I think is due to what I see as extra pounds around his midsection). It's time to let the young boys play at the beginning of the game. Nick Young is a special scorer and the rest will only get better with the confidence experience brings. These veterans played scared against Cleveland for three years, lets put some people in there that don't know what that means and even if this is a bad year set us up to be competitive again next year.

Posted by: raybell84 | November 10, 2008 4:23 PM

We should have gotten rid of the 3 point shooting, constant ugly finger rollin, no defense playing.. Antwan Craperson!! I mean I do have a man crush on Hibachi but I too know his time is done and he doesnt fit Eddie's princeton offense. This team is built for mediocrity at best. 1st round playoff contenders.

Just imagine if we would traded Hibachi back to the Warriors for Baron Davis and picked up Elton Brand and instead of re-signing Craperson... You would BD, Elton, and Tuff Juice as your big 3. I dont know about but I think your Defense just got 1000 times better.....

But now we suffer for at least 3 more years of this middle of the pack team.

Posted by: getoffmahnutz | November 10, 2008 4:24 PM

Come on people, is anyone really surprised? The Wizards have had 0 inside game for the last 10+ years and still can't play defense. Who's going to scare anyone attacking the basket? Haywood? Thomas? No sir! I like what EG has done, but you can't keep letting the center position go. There's some good young talent here, but Jamison isn't getting any younger and Blatche hasn't taken the next step. The fact that for the last 5 years it's been Haywood & Thomas is a joke. We need defensive minded players and guys that can rebound; we have a bunch of scorers and that equals another 1st round bounce!(If they can make it to the playoffs!)

Posted by: Toochilled | November 10, 2008 4:55 PM

Antawan Jamison: Old, No D
Andray Blatche: Young, No O
Etan Thomas: Great story. No skill.
Darius Songailia: No D, No O, No reb.
DeShawn Stevenson: No O.
Juan Dixon, Dee Brown, Doninic McGuire, Oleksiy Pecherov: Are you kidding?

Nobody can pass the ball.
The front line makes me actually miss Brendan Haywood.

If anyone actually thinks Gilbert is going to make any difference when/IF he get back -- and IF he is ever the same again -- then you are not paying attention.

9-20 is sounding pretty good right about now.

Posted by: noslok | November 10, 2008 4:55 PM

The anger I have here is that this is somehow a surprise to those that are paid to make decisions. The dysfunction of Gilbert getting surgery 2 weeks before camp, the mix-matching of not ready for primetime kids with some aging veterans, this is a team without an identity. We're trying to rebuild and win with vets at the same time. Sad really. We're wasting the best period in Caron Butler's career by having him carry a team of aging role players and immature kids.

Posted by: ArtMonkToTheSticks | November 10, 2008 4:59 PM

I think Grunfeld should go!

Posted by: avbanig | November 10, 2008 2:40 PM

I agree that Ernie is more to blame for this mess than Eddie. The Arenas deal was awful, and will handicap this organization for the foreseeable future. They should have let him walk and added some other pieces to build around Caron. They missed any opportunity to deal Blatche when he still has some perceived value - now he is an overpraid, unmotivated bum who will never be more than a decent role player. Maybe Nick Young matures and improves his overall game, and McGee looks like he could develop nicely, but other than that they have no young talent. Pech sstinks. Blatche stinks. McGuire hustles, but has no offensive game. The core of this team is old, overpaid and therefor unmovable. So some "bold" move is pretty unlikely. Watching them struggle every game on D is frustrating and maybe a change at head coach would help; but the blame for this [athetic team belongs to Ernie for maxing Gil and havig too much faith that it was coll to go into this season with Blatche, Daniels and Stevenson continuing to pay prominent roles.

Posted by: burgundyandgold21 | November 10, 2008 5:23 PM

Start Juan, Nick, CB, AJ and McGee- We need our starting guards scoring more, and McGee at least provides a longer body and hustle to defend the rim and rebound...With this being said, any trade would be beneficial for a big man- lets see what we can get for dsteve, daniels, etan or blatche! And although a coaching change would be best now, when it is relatively early in the season, i feel like it would just make us worse- if thats possible.

Posted by: bbachrac | November 10, 2008 5:41 PM

Also, they play no defense. one game they lose by a team hitting 3-pointers at record levels. The next day, a big man on the post kills them with uncontested inside play. Defense is a serious ingredient missing.

Posted by: oknow1 | November 10, 2008 5:44 PM

Starting line up:

Blatche - block shots, post up, rebound

Etan - rebound, try and make your layups and dunks

CB3 - do what you do

Juan Dixon - defend, score, be the champ that you are

Dee Brown for now, followed by dixon at PG






whoever at PG.

losing Haywood hurts; he was improving. To win they must play D first.

Posted by: Realness1 | November 10, 2008 5:49 PM

The next time somebody says the Wizards don't need any more jumpshooters or 3 pt. shooters, I'm going to bark.

Is anyone paying attention to Hopla? Jamison needs some refresher lessons.

Posted by: rickgonz | November 10, 2008 6:07 PM

This team will be lucky to win 20 games. Why did them sign somebody with 3 knee operations in 17 months to a six year deal costing $111 million?

Posted by: robinficker | November 10, 2008 6:29 PM

The Wiz shell out major coin for Jamie and Agent Orange and start the season sucking pond scum. Sob, sniffle.

Posted by: AntonChigurh | November 10, 2008 6:57 PM

the wizards play lousy defense;EJ does a lousy job substituting and a lousy job coaching and motivating his players.All teams experience injuries but they don't look as bad as the wizards.When the team was at full strenth a couple of years ago they could not play defense and it's still the same.that is coaching or lack thereof.It is time for EJ to hit the road.Get him out of here and bring someone who can at least coach defense and motivate players.A new coach will not need to stress offense because the current players think basketball only involves shooting

Posted by: joyron52 | November 10, 2008 7:13 PM

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