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The Wait Is Over, Media Day Is Here

While an angry mob of Redskins fans prepares to toss everyone associated with the organization off the plank -- after three weeks!?! -- the mood around fans of the local professional baskebtall team is filled with optimism and excitement with training camp set to begin today.

No matter how this season works out, it cannot be any worse than last season, so that's already a great start. But the Washington Wizards have the look a playoff team, and on paper, they are deeper than any team Washington has fielded in several years. Does that mean that the Wizards will advance to at least the second round? Maybe. I'll be filling you in every step of the way.

The Wizards will hold media day today and for the first time in six years, the players will start training camp under the guidance of a new coach in Flip Saunders. Also, for the first time in five years, the Wizards are coming off a season in which they failed to make the postseason. The Wizards are antsy to put that miserable 19-63 season in the rear view.

After talking to reporters from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the players will hustle on down to Richmond, where they will learn a new system on both sides of the ball where they will learn a new system, on both sides of the ball, at Virginia Commonwealth University. The Wizards will have two practice sessons on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Oct. 4. They will have single practices on Thursday and Saturday and then play Memphis on Oct. 6.

I already went over five key issues for the team in Saturday's paper. I said the primary concerns are 1) Gilbert Arenas's health; 2) who wins the starting shooting guard position; 3) if Saunders can teach this team to play defense; 4) which players make Saunders rotation; and 5) if the Wizards have enough size and depth up front to contend with the other elite teams in the league. I'm sure you guys have your own concerns, so feel free to drop me a line and tell me what you think.

It will interesting to see if Arenas actually talks or if he decides to disappear and pay another fine like last season. Whether or not Arenas discusses his summer rehab in Chicago with Tim Grover or his frustration with the Wizards' medical staff over his previous two failed returns, the team is already in better spirits because the guy is healthy and ready to play, unlike last season when he was a few weeks removed from another surgery.

There also is still a lot to talk about with the other 13 players on the roster. The Wizards have three new players in Mike Miller, Randy Foye and Fabricio Oberto. I finally caught up with Foye on Saturday and helped share his triumph over some early hardships and the significance of him wearing the No. 15. Miller, Foye, Oberto, Brendan Haywood and Dominic McGuire will also be free agents next summer, with Foye and McGuire both being restricted.

DeShawn Stevenson is back healthy. Caron Butler has reportedly lost weight and is talking championship. Antawn Jamison is also talking about winning a championship. Nick Young, Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee each worked hard to improve their games this offseason. Javaris Crittenton shuttled back and forth between here and Atlanta to get better. And, Mike James surely worked on making sure he won't be forgotten under the new regime.

You guys have any questions you think I should ask? And what player other than Arenas do you most want to hear from?



By Michael Lee  |  September 28, 2009; 8:04 AM ET
 
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Next: Media Day Wrapup

Comments

Mike,

Considering AJ claims he wants to win a championship, I would like you to ask him (since the perception is he doesn’t play defense) if he is going to step up on the “D” end of the court this year?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | September 28, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Are we getting new uniforms??

Posted by: prescrunk | September 28, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse

My question is, we've heard and seen Eddie Jordan tinker with the lineup during practices and preseasons(he always talked about a big lineup but NEVER used it), but failed to do it during the games that count. So is Flip gonna do the same thing and actually use some creativity in the lineup since he thinks this team is deep at every position? (like a big lineup of Gil, Caron at the 2, Dray, Blatche and Haywood at the 3,4 and 5)

Posted by: CBell29 | September 28, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Are we getting new uniforms??

Posted by: prescrunk | September 28, 2009 9:24 AM

Yeah. Great question! I'm sick of the black and gold. Bring back the Bullets!

Posted by: CBell29 | September 28, 2009 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Just an FYI, the FIVE KEY ISSUES link takes you to the story about Foye.

Posted by: CDon | September 28, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: prescrunk | September 28, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Are we getting new uniforms??

Posted by: prescrunk | September 28, 2009 9:24 AM

Yeah. Great question! I'm sick of the black and gold. Bring back the Bullets!

Posted by: CBell29 | September 28, 2009 9:29 AM

It was my understanding that last season was it for the Black and Gold uniforms.

Posted by: zxhoya | September 28, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

How is Deshawn's post-surgery game? Is he still our best defender? Is he back to Mr. Fifty?

Posted by: prescrunk | September 28, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

I'm so excited about the upcoming season I can't stand it but I get this way almost before every season. I had high expectations about the Skins and look what's happening.

Oh well, I believe the Wiz will have a great season and I will (with a couple of friends) be making my way down to Richmond for the 1st preseason game, hope to see some of you guys down there.

Posted by: zxhoya | September 28, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

You will know before the first scrimmage how far this team will go by two factors:

1) is Blatche in game shape, having worked out 7 days a week all summer, as promised;

2) is McGee over 250 pounds, having lifted weights all summer.

We know what the rest of the squad can do. These two guys (and Nick Young in a new Rip-like mode) need to step up.

Posted by: Izman | September 28, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

I'd love to know how Blatche and McGee's summer went after summer league.

Particularly McGee's invitation to Team USA, and if that changed his approach the rest of the offseason.
GM

Posted by: flohrtv | September 28, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

How is Deshawn's post-surgery game? Is he still our best defender? Is he back to Mr. Fifty?

Posted by: prescrunk | September 28, 2009 9:49 AM

Who in the Blue Blazes anointed DS as our STOPPER!?!?! He's the worse Defencsive stopper since Reuben "the Kobe Stopper" Patterson!

Posted by: CBell29 | September 28, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Who in the Blue Blazes anointed DS as our STOPPER!?!?! He's the worse Defencsive stopper since Reuben "the Kobe Stopper" Patterson!

Posted by: CBell29 | September 28, 2009 10:38 AM

That's an insult to Reuben Patterson to compare DS to him.

Posted by: zxhoya | September 28, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

2) is McGee over 250 pounds, having lifted weights all summer.
Posted by: Izman | September 28, 2009 10:15 AM

I think 250 may be too big for him and his style game.(quickness)?
I'll settle for his summer league weight with improved strength and the continual development he has shown.
He's our immediate future and his play is important to our success.

Posted by: zxhoya | September 28, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

My question for McGee would be the following: Did you learn how to play basketball this summer?

Posted by: ZardsFan1 | September 28, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

The big question is what kind of improvement is there in Nick Young, McGee & Blatches game?
Their development will determine the season.

Posted by: VBFan | September 28, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Yep...I'm really worried about the uniforms too. I mean who cares if they win or lose as long as they look good.

If they are going to use the old Bullets uniforms, do they get to wear the "hot pants" short shorts, too?

I'll be at the game next week, so I'll let you know what I see. Might see if I can sneak into a practice.

Posted by: Blurred | September 28, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Another question is, what does the future hold for Brendan if he has a good season? Are the wiz gonna do everything it can to keep him or will he settle for less just to remain here? Or will they let him walk and pass the torch over to Javale (providing he proves that he's ready)?

Posted by: CBell29 | September 28, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

My question is: Antawn has played a lot of heavy minutes the last couple years. I think it's hurt him a little. Is Flip going to monitor those minutes and make him sit more, not to punish but to preserve?

Posted by: jweber1 | September 28, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Blatche, NY, and McGee are *not* the keys to our season. Will you guys stop that garbage? The key to our season is Arenas, the remaining "big three" members, Haywood, and even our two new acquisitions more so than those previously mentioned players. If they all have top notch seasons, NY, JM, and AB will be bit players. They are the future of the franchise. Not the present.

Posted by: rphilli721 | September 28, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse


My question is: Antawn has played a lot of heavy minutes the last couple years. I think it's hurt him a little. Is Flip going to monitor those minutes and make him sit more, not to punish but to preserve?

Posted by: jweber1 | September 28, 2009 12:18 PM


If the Big 3 have to play the minutes that they have been accustomed to, we're in trouble. As many have stated, it's the reserves that will determine the overall success of this team this season and seasons to come.

This team is deep but the reserves for the most part are young and it's time for them to step up.

Posted by: zxhoya | September 28, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

rphil, you're talking some sense now. Lots of guys on this blog are convinced that the season's success is closely tied to the production of McGee and Blatche. If that's the case then we're in for a long season b/c neither one of those guys, especially McGee, are going to make a significant impact.

Posted by: ZardsFan1 | September 28, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse


Blatche, NY, and McGee are *not* the keys to our season. Will you guys stop that garbage? The key to our season is Arenas, the remaining "big three" members, Haywood, and even our two new acquisitions more so than those previously mentioned players. If they all have top notch seasons, NY, JM, and AB will be bit players. They are the future of the franchise. Not the present.

Posted by: rphilli721 | September 28, 2009 12:41 PM


The Big 3 at their best has proven that we are a 1st round out.
They need help and if you believe that the back-ups for BH and AJ are not important to the success of this team, I believe you are delusional (with all due respect)

It would be nice if NY had a break out season but it's not important because of the depth at the guard position.

Posted by: zxhoya | September 28, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Yes, the angry mob has Danny Snyder on the plank and the sharks are in a frenzy! For now uncle Abe is resting safely in is quarters (I cant imagine rolling old Abe off the plank...God bless him).

Wow...another fresh start for a D.C. team. Except for the Caps, we D.C. fans have been to "Sports Hell" and back over the last 10 months. After a summer of fishing with the TNT Boyz (Charles, Kenny & Ernie) the Wiz seem ready to win 47-52 games...if healthy. Hope the Wiz don't overlook their (arguably) best defender Domonic McGuire (a.k.a "Mr. Intangible").

Posted by: Stevie-J | September 28, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

rphil, you're talking some sense now. Lots of guys on this blog are convinced that the season's success is closely tied to the production of McGee and Blatche. If that's the case then we're in for a long season b/c neither one of those guys, especially McGee, are going to make a significant impact.

Posted by: ZardsFan1 | September 28, 2009 12:52 PM


I believe that Mcgee will have more of an impact than Blatche.

Posted by: zxhoya | September 28, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Hope the Wiz don't overlook their (arguably) best defender Domonic McGuire (a.k.a "Mr. Intangible").

Posted by: Stevie-J | September 28, 2009 12:52 PM

I love Dom, but I believe he is one of the odd men out along with DS. I could be wrong, let's hope that Flip S. will play his best practice performers and not let politics or seniority rule.

Posted by: zxhoya | September 28, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

"[McGee]'s our immediate future and his play is important to our success. Posted by: zxhoya"

He might be our future, but probably not the immediate one. I wouldn't worry about his numbers, just that he provided solid minutes whenever he got in the game. If I'm not carried away by his promise, I see the weaknesses in his skill set and conclude it will take him another season (and off-season) to blossom.

Of course, I'd be happy to be wrong.

Posted by: Samson151 | September 28, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Blatche, NY, and McGee are *not* the keys to our season. Will you guys stop that garbage? The key to our season is Arenas, the remaining "big three" members, Haywood, and even our two new acquisitions more so than those previously mentioned players. If they all have top notch seasons, NY, JM, and AB will be bit players. They are the future of the franchise. Not the present.

Posted by: rphilli721 | September 28, 2009 12:41 PM

This statement would be true in the past but not this year. I agree with you. I think folks around town got hooked on the future once Arenas went down and we got to see how young those guys really were. BUt we're deep at every position now. Although, I will say this, Nick has the potential to win a game by himself. If he can consistently give you 15 points a game, I think he can have a significant impact on this year's team overall success more than any other "Wiz Kid"

Posted by: CBell29 | September 28, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

It hasn't been just three weeks of frustration that has 'Skins fans calling for peoples' professional heads on a platter, its been a steady diet of boring, mediocre football from this coaching staff since the middle of last season, and 10+ years of Snyder wringing every last penny out of the fan base while simultaneously running the franchise into the ground with poor management and lousy personnel decisions. Makes me look forward to the Wizards' and Caps' seasons more, with (I think) justifiable optimism surrounding the Wiz's health and roster additions, and with the Caps being the best-run, and probably the most-talented, professional sports franchise in the area.

Posted by: rbpalmer | September 28, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

^^^
+1

Posted by: zxhoya | September 28, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Every summer we hear the same lip service from Blatche about anew start and dedicating himself, and this being the year. It never is. I'd be shocked if this one is any different. Blatche's problems are attitudinal, and that's not something that's likely going to suddenly change. McGee's problem is educational. He simply didn't know what the hell he was doing. With the right guidance he should be able to f, eventually.

Posted by: kalo_rama | September 28, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

I think McGee is BH back-up day one even over Oberto.

Posted by: zxhoya | September 28, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

If Young, McGee & Blatch have improved their games then they will help win games. Games that were lost in the past because of foul trouble to one of the starters or someone just having an off game. Improvement by them will also push the starters in practice and keep them focused in games knowing that there is someone on the bench who can come in and eat into their PT.

Posted by: VBFan | September 28, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Oops! INadvertant deletion.

Should read: "With the right guidance he should be able to figure it out, eventually."

Posted by: kalo_rama | September 28, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

The fact that Gilbert is healthy to me is no longer the number one priority. The number one priority is the Wizards learning how to play defense. If we can bebetter at protecting the perimeter and rebounding and blocking shots well. We can definitely have a turnaround season.
I really see Gil improving on the defensive end. I believe he will be one of the league leaders in steals. My gut says the best fit with Gil in the backcourt is Randy Foye. Outside of the defense my biggest concern is can Andray Blatche finally break out and be the player that his teammates and coaches say that he can be. Now if Deshawn is healthy there could be some trade possiblities being generated. Outside of that this should be a very competitive camp.

Posted by: raystitt810 | September 28, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

One thing everyone seems to miss is how better shot selection improves a defense. If Flip can get the offense more disciplined and less like Eddie's the players won't be put in a bad position off of the rebound. This must include the Big 3 stopping the insane practice of putting up bad 3's, which inevitably lead to breakouts and bad floor balance. Flip's offense might automatically lead to better defense because of this.

Posted by: jwizard | September 28, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

If Young, McGee & Blatch have improved their games then they will help win games. Games that were lost in the past because of foul trouble to one of the starters or someone just having an off game. Improvement by them will also push the starters in practice and keep them focused in games knowing that there is someone on the bench who can come in and eat into their PT.

Posted by: VBFan | September 28, 2009 1:42 PM

VBF, I agree with you 100%

Posted by: zxhoya | September 28, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to know what improvements McGuire has made to his game over the summer, and if Flip will use him at PF this year. Unless Blatche comes into camp in phenomenal shape I'd rather see another guy as Jamison's backup.

From NBA.com: For the first time ever, NBA.com will stream live the 2K Sports NBA Real Training Camp, providing fans unprecedented access to five teams' training camps, including the defending NBA champs, the Los Angeles Lakers. Offering fans an exclusive first look at team practices, along with interviews from their top players and staff, 2K Sports NBA Real Training Camp lineup will include the Denver Nuggets (Sept. 29), Lakers (Oct. 1), Boston Celtics (Oct. 3), Washington Wizards (Oct. 5) and Atlanta Hawks (Oct. 6).

Posted by: djnnnou | September 28, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Could someone tell me where I can get time and location of next weeks scrimmage? I think I might take the drive down to Richmond.

Posted by: sbowie1 | September 28, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

To my knowledge, unlike previous years there is no scrimmage but on Oct. 5th is the Wiz 1st preseason game against the Mem Grizz in Richmond. I plan on being there.

Posted by: zxhoya | September 28, 2009 5:58 PM | Report abuse

i think the starting 5 should be gil caron mcgurie aj and haywood. cuz mcgurie is da best d-fance player on our team he cud block and rebound very gud. so if they dont let me start he shud have alot of mins to play

Posted by: rupert3 | September 28, 2009 11:13 PM | Report abuse

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