Wizards Minicamp Kicks Off Today

The Washington Wizards will start minicamp this morning at Verizon Center in preparation for the Las Vegas Summer League next week. The Wizards will have two-a-day practices today and Sunday and one practice on Monday before heading off to Las Vegas, where the summer league squad opens against Cleveland.

The Wizards young players -- Nick Young, Javaris Crittenton, JaVale McGee and Dominic McGuire -- will be the focal point for this team, which will be coached by assistant Randy Wittman. Flip Saunders will lead the practices and establish his system, although most of the young guys have been getting familiar with it and learning it the past few weeks in voluntary workouts.

I touched on the skills of McGee (a.ka. bigdaddywookie) with video equipment in my story today, but TruthAboutIt.net recently pointed out another surprising side of the 7-foot center. He's actually a decent beat maker. I clicked on his page on ReverbNation, a website for music and social networking, and McGee has been uploading some music under the name, JMAC. The music is raw, some of the beats are okay.

It seems like a decent hobby, but I'm sure most of you would rather see him dunking on somebody or developing a go-to move in the post than hearing him become the next Kanye West or something.

Ernie Grunfeld told me earlier this week that the Wizards will keep an eye on several of the big men they've invited to camp, including Gonzaga 6-foot-11 forward/center Josh Heytvelt, who went undrafted after some boards had him going in the late first round. I also heard that former Wizard James Lang, who played 11 games in 2006-07, has lost some weight since he was last here.

The funny thing about the Wizards' summer league roster is that it wouldn't be much different had they decided to keep the No. 5 pick and drafted Ricky Rubio. Rubio's complicated buyout situation with his Spanish team has his NBA future in limbo and may force him to stick around for a while. The Minnesota Timberwolves seem okay with waiting on him, but the Wizards didn't have that luxury. I know it doesn't matter anymore, but also I found out that the Wizards had Oklahoma City's James Harden ahead of Rubio on their draft board.

I'll have an update after practice, but for a good chuckle, you can check out McGee's video for "Transformers 3: Rise of The McGee."

By Michael Lee |  July 11, 2009; 9:09 AM ET
Previous: Free Agency Update | Next: Minicamp First Day Wrapup

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I got first.

I am very interested to see how JC pans out. JC to me with his height and skills will end up being a point guard that you will not be able to keep on the bench.

It seems that he is the odd man out, but once this mini-camp and the summer League is over, the Wizards will have a pleasant surprise.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | July 11, 2009 9:51 AM

J Critt did show some signs last year.
Just a few tweaks to his game and he could make a big difference.
I hope that the other youngens show that they are serious about playing at this level. I'm gonna miss Pesh tho.

Posted by: VBFan | July 11, 2009 10:04 AM

Patience is key I say also. But are we sure that the Wiz will sign someone. I am not sure that they will. They may not Need Too.

Can somebody give me a lesson? If we sign someone, does whatever we pay the guy, we have to pay the same to the League for Cap reasons?

LarryInClintonMD.

I heard Mike on the Lockeroom yesterday with Sheehan and this was indicated I think.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | July 11, 2009 10:07 AM

Ernie Grunfeld told me earlier this week that the Wizards will keep an eye on several of the big men they've invited to camp, including Gonzaga 6-foot-11 forward/center Josh Heytvelt, who went undrafted after some boards had him going in the late first round.

This looks like Ernie's guy?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | July 11, 2009 10:39 AM

Mike, no post on LeBron gettin' stuffed-faced?

I've been cracking up at the comments posted on other blogs where "LBJ Dunk-Gate" is the subject.

I thought it was only Wizard fans that couldn't stand this guy. I remember Steve "Dagger" Buckhantz making a comment on the 'Sports Reporters' basically saying that while he's a great player, he doesn't get everyone's fascination with his personality. He said when the cameras aren't on him, he's a d0uche.

It appears it was in the dark for son many for a long time, but y'all know the saying... it's good to see this fraudulent bama exposed.

Posted by: RedDMV | July 11, 2009 11:17 AM

"Rubio's complicated buyout situation with his Spanish team has his NBA future in limbo and may force him to stick around for a while. The Minnesota Timberwolves seem okay with waiting on him, but the Wizards didn't have that luxury. I know it doesn't matter anymore, but also I found at that the Wizards had Oklahoma City's James Harden ahead of Rubio on their draft board."

The buyout, plus the fact Rubio regards Minnesota as the North American equivalent of Greenland. The Wolves must have known that or they wouldn't have taken Jonny Flynn. They seem to have their sights set on 2013 and a chance at one or more top lottery draft picks between now and then.

I thought Harden was the most NBA-ready of the guards. A legit candidate for ROY if Griffin struggles. He's the guy the Wiz might have missed on, not Rubio. But in the long run, I doubt Harden will be a major star. Rubio might be, in his twenties.

IMO the Wolves gave away way too much for Rubio, and the only justification is they were thinking ahead. It's far from certain he'll ever wear a MINN uniform. Grunfeld made a sensible trade, given the limitations he faced.


Posted by: Samson151 | July 11, 2009 11:29 AM

Pretty good article today from Michael on McGee. Also, after what happened last year, some interesting quotes from EG:

"With JaVale, I think everybody sees the kind of potential he has and the only way to improve is with game-time conditions," Grunfeld said. "We want to bring JaVale along and give him some consistent minutes and see how he can develop."

Posted by: cannontl | July 11, 2009 11:29 AM

Does anyone know if these practices are open to the public, or if any of the Vegas games will be televised?

Posted by: phijs | July 11, 2009 11:33 AM

I believe at least some of the games were "televised" last year on the internet thru nba.com.

Posted by: cannontl | July 11, 2009 11:39 AM

Check out the nba summer league link on this web page:

http://www.nba.com/#nbaVidchannels_nbatv

Posted by: cannontl | July 11, 2009 11:42 AM

Josh Heytvelt is considered to be among the best of the undrafted players available. He was inconsistent in his college career, and injury concerns probably had an influence on his poor showing on drafted night. But he's shown he can play. See, e.g., http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InqJS6ONXPE

Posted by: satchmore | July 11, 2009 11:52 AM

Some of the games were on cable last year.
They looked like uptempo college games. Everyone trying just a little too hard. Every now & then you'd see a flash.
The Wizzies should do good because of the experience of the 4 players they are sending. If not then it may give Ernie some reason to get rid of someone.

Posted by: VBFan | July 11, 2009 11:58 AM

From nypost.com

Portland, one of the few teams still with cap space to court Lee without a sign-and-trade, reportedly discussed a three-way deal for Chicago's Kirk Hinrich. The deal would wipe out that space, taking them out of the mix for Lee.

One scenario is the Knicks trading Jeffries back to Washington for guard Mike James, who's expendable following the Wizards' additions of Randy Foye and Mike Miller. The contracts of James and Jeffries match.

Posted by: Ronnie5 | July 11, 2009 12:08 PM

Picked up a bit of the Warriors-Rockets summer league game. Stephon Curry played a lot, looked poised on offense, but turned the ball over a bunch of times and missed most of his shots. Defense was the problem; if it had been a regular season game, he'd have fouled out. Be interesting to watch him develop.

Posted by: Samson151 | July 11, 2009 12:35 PM

It's funny how Mike Lee refers to JaTravel as "a kid."

A lot of 21 year olds these days are just finishing college and going into the workforce while paying back loans. These are not "kids," but responsible adults. Let's stop referring to 21 year olds as "kids."

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | July 11, 2009 12:47 PM

satch: "Josh Heytvelt is considered to be among the best of the undrafted players available"

thanks for the clip. You can see how big he is. According to the measurement-obsessed folks at draftexpress, he's a better leaper than Taj Gibson and Tyler Hansbrough, and strong for a big guy. In the clip he blocks a couple inside shots, but it's hard to tell about position defense when somebody's facing Hansbrough because Tyler is so relentless and never stops moving.

Posted by: Samson151 | July 11, 2009 1:04 PM

Drew League Javale highlights from week 1:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgWAWiyziFg

Nick Young highlights:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-g9l2GOtlc
Nick and Javale were on the same team. Of course it's only an amateur summer league, but their performances were encouraging.
http://www.drewleague.com/Players%20of%20the%20Week.htm

Posted by: rickgonz | July 11, 2009 1:07 PM

I just read the article on JaVale in the Post. I thought the most interesting or should I say the most disturbing part of the story was this quote from EG.

Team President Ernie Grunfeld plans on adding an inexpensive veteran player to shore up the front line. But he added that Antawn Jamison and Brendan Haywood will account for at least 65 of the available 96 minutes per game at power forward and center.

First, how can EG say before the season starts who's going to get what minutes. Isn't that for the coach to decide? Also, isn't that the same sh** we had to deal with last year. Playing certain older players regardless of how well other guys are playing. I hope we're not going to have to watch what we saw last year.

Posted by: 33dgriffin | July 11, 2009 4:06 PM

I just watched the JaVale Transformers video------all I can say is I hope he has some other talent he can fall back on after basketball.

Posted by: VBFan | July 11, 2009 4:42 PM

Yeah, JaVale should stick to his day job, but he's got a good bead on that. I like Heytvelt a lot, but I also like the possible trade of Mike James to the Knicks for Jeffries. Don't forget that Jeffries was starting for the Wizards when he left, as the "2", and he can play the 1 through 4. The Knicks were starting him at the "5" (with David Lee at the "4").

The Wizards have a lot of nice pieces, and it won't take much to put them in the Catbird's seat.

Posted by: zinger1 | July 11, 2009 7:08 PM

I agree with 33dgriffin. If we play the same old tired Jamison story like we did last year I'll stop coming to the games. We have a new coach with a new philosophy. Let him let the best players play. Dallas had it right Jamison is a 6th man. I guy who can come in at the 3 or4 and score pts. Heytvelt has a good game. He would be a beter bench player than he 7' 3pt artist we had last year. He likes being in the post and he has a decent shot. Go get them McGee, Nick and Blatche.

Posted by: rnbrown4 | July 12, 2009 8:36 AM

Finally.... Rumors are circling around Marcus Camby, appartently he is getting alot calls about his services from contending teams and has recently spoke with Clippers GM about his situation... Yes Yes Yes Yes.... I hope were one of those teams... Again these are rumors... but thats a start... its about time... I just could not imagine going through the summer without his name mention in some type of trade talk...

Ernie make that call if ya haven't already...

Posted by: DaGuru | July 12, 2009 10:57 AM


I think McGee has unquestioned potential, but I wish he was using that that time he spent acting STUPID instead in a gym somewhere working on a hook shot. Be a PROFESSIONAL! That's what you're getting paid to be....And yes, the right move would be to pursue a Marcus Camby, but Abe won't ever let EG do that--it might cost them the mid level exception money which they have foolishly and cheaply vowed not to spend.

Posted by: NothingButTheTruth | July 12, 2009 11:56 AM

"Dallas had it right Jamison is a 6th man."

Yeah, on a team with two all-stars (one of them a future first ballot HoFer) starting in the front court. On this Wizards team? Not so much.

Posted by: kalo_rama | July 12, 2009 2:59 PM

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